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What is SOURDOUGH STARTER? Let’s discover it together

Sourdough or Natural Yeast is one of the most popular ingredients today, mainly when used to make homemade bread, pizza, or other pastries.

As opposed to fresh yeast, Sourdough is a biologically complex system in which they coexist:

  • Lactic Bacteria: so-called because they produce lactic acid, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide due to the fermentation of sugars.
  • Yeasts (Saccharomyces Exiguus, Cerevisiae, and many others): They feed on sugars (such as glucose and fructose) and transform them into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). Moreover, they can produce other substances necessary for the color and the aromatic note of the baked product.

VARIOUS WAYS TO PRESERVE SOURDOUGH

TIED UP SOURDOUGH

This is undoubtedly the most widespread method, originating in the Milan area (Italy) and still very common in the bakery sector.

 Its preservation is done through regular cycles that consist of the Sourdough’s soaking and the subsequent feeding with water and flour. After the refreshment, the yeast is wrapped in a heavy cloth and tied with a string or a rope to contain gas development until the next refreshment (typically after 16 hours).

According to my experience, this method is more challenging to manage at home than the one in water that I will explain in a moment. This is because it requires a good experience in knowing how to read the “signals” to maintain a correct acidity.

SOURDOUGH STORED IN WATER

Preserving Sourdough in water is a method that originated in the Piedmont area (north of Italy). It is definitely the method I would recommend to you!

According to this method, storage between one refreshment and is done by soaking the Sourdough in water.

I recommend following this method because:

  • It is Easy to Manage;
  • The aqueous environment ensures a Control of the Acidity;
  • The result is a less acidic sourdough, more suitable for the production of pastries.

Even if up to now you have managed your sourdough starter with a different method, you can easily switch to keeping it in water without any problem. In this case, allow about 1 week to adapt to the new “environment” before using the Sourdough for your recipes.

I reply to your QUESTIONS about Sourdough

I was given the Sourdough Starter as a gift. How do I store it?

You can choose to store the Sourdough wrapped in a cloth and tied up or soaked in water. Both methods are widespread, but I believe the second one is easier to manage even for those with little experience. How to Store the Sourdough Starter

How many days should I refresh the Sourdough?

If you store your Sourdough at room temperature, then you have to refresh it every day. If you decide to keep it in the fridge, you can feed it every 5/7 daysHow to Store Mother Yeast

How do I store Yeast in Water?

First, you have to feed it (as usual) and soak it in a bowl of cold tap water (19°C -66°F). Then you can store it at room temperature for 24 hours or store it in the refrigerator at +4°C (39°F) for 5/7 days. How to Store Mother Yeast

I have a Liquid Sourdough stored in a pot. Can I store it in the water?

Yes, just feed it by progressively decreasing the amount of water. The liquid Sourdough is usually fed with an equal weight of water and flour (100% hydration). Starting from this ratio, decrease the percentage of water each day by 10% until you reach 30% (1kg of yeast +1kg of flour +300gr of water).

I'm storing Sourdough tied up. Can I keep it in the water?

Yes, just soak it in the water at 38°C (100°F) for about 20 minutes and then feed it with an equal weight of flour and 30% water over the flour's weight (1kg yeast +1kg flour +300g water). Once it is ready, you can soak it in cold tap water and keep it 24 hours at room temperature. The next day you will start with the usual refreshments. How to Store Mother Yeast

Is it better to store Sourdough tied up or in the water?

Storing Sourdough in the water is easier. It allows you to better control the Sourdough's acidity (because it is dissolved in the water).

How much water should I soak the Sourdough in?

The ideal proportion is for the water to be about 3 times the amount of Sourdough: 1kg of yeast should be soaked in 3 liters of water.

How can I measure the pH of the Sourdough?

Measuring pH at home is not very meaningful. This is because the data we would read in the pH-meter will be the sum of the 2 acidities: Lactic (produced by lactic acid bacteria) and Acetic (created mostly by yeast).

The critical factor is the proportion between the 2 acidities. We could have a sourdough with a correct global acidity (e.g., ph 4) but with an excessive lactic or acetic acidity.

Can I knead the Sourdough Starter without a Stand Mixer?

Absolutely, you will just need a little more enhanced strength to work the dough!

What is the difference with Liquid Sourdough Starter stored in a pot?

Compared to traditional Sourdough, Liquid Sourdough Starter is much easier to manage and feed. However, it has a much lower "leavening power."

For this reason, it is suitable to be used in "lean" doughs such as bread, pizza, or some pastries with little fat in the dough, such as croissants.

STILL CURIOUS ABOUT SOURDOUGH?

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