Sourdough (rec.food.sourdough) Discussing the hobby or craft of baking with sourdough. We are not just a recipe group, Our charter is to discuss the care, feeding, and breeding of yeasts and lactobacilli that make up sourdough cultures.

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Old 20-02-2008, 05:30 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Has there been anything in terms of laboratory research about whether
a sourdough starter, when moved to a different locale, eventually
becomes dominated by the "local" microorganisms?

The logic of that happening seems fairly compelling to me, but people
continue to sell "regional" cultures as if they can be propagated like
plant cuttings.


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Old 21-02-2008, 12:29 AM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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"Sledge Hammer" wrote in message ...

Has there been anything in terms of laboratory research about whether
a sourdough starter, when moved to a different locale, eventually
becomes dominated by the "local" microorganisms?


There is ongoing scholarly research, leading, I believe, to various
opinions. One opinion (I believe that Michael Gaenzle expressed it
recently) is that long-term sourdough cultures tend to drift towards the
microorganisms that have been identified (by T.F. Sugihara and coauthors
in 1971) with the so-called San Francisco culture. Rye sourdoughs are
very interesting to read about if German and Russian are among of your
languages.

The logic of that happening seems fairly compelling to me, but people
continue to sell "regional" cultures as if they can be propagated like
plant cuttings.


Caveat emptor!

A serious reader might start at http://samartha.net/SD/docs/DW-post1-4.html
See also http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/sourdoughfaqs.html


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Old 21-02-2008, 04:19 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Feb 20, 5:29 pm, "Dick Adams" wrote:

The logic of that happening seems fairly compelling to me, but people
continue to sell "regional" cultures as if they can be propagated like
plant cuttings.


My experience is that culture drifts with flour source and one's
maintenance practice. If you store cold, if adjusts to critters that
thrive in cold, etc...

But I would think, that if you had a "pure" source, like a sample from
Acme Bakery for example, and if you maintained it on cooked cereal,
you might have a shot at maintaining it's uniqueness.

An aside... I often use a (small) cooked cereal stage, when I want a
"sourer" result. You can ferment for acid, and not degrade (as much)
the eventual gluten potential of your dough. It's sort of like using
an old dough, or what Hamelman calls a pre-ferment, except the sour
results are more pronounced.
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Old 21-02-2008, 05:22 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Thu, 21 Feb 2008 07:19:41 -0800 (PST), Will
wrote:

My experience is that culture drifts with flour source and one's
maintenance practice. If you store cold, if adjusts to critters that
thrive in cold, etc...


Hi Will,

If we think of the issue in terms of emphasis of one or
another characteristic of the starter, I agree with what you
have written above, but...

I know that I have two starters that have lived side-by-side
in my refrigerator for about since about 1990.

They are fed identically, but have remained distinct for all
these years.

I've thought about it this way:

Say you have a herd of water buffalo somewhere in Asia, but
you move 'em to Colorado and start to feed them cracked
corn.

After several years of breeding would we expect them to have
become a flock of chickens?

Admittedly, the sourdough critters don't have horns, but
they do have DNA, and that would seem to me to be the
primary determinant of their characteristics, providing, of
course, that modifications of the environment are not so
extreme as to kill off the "breeding stock" of one or more
of the "subspecies."

All the best,
--
Kenneth

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Old 21-02-2008, 05:30 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Feb 21, 10:22 am, Kenneth
wrote:

They are fed identically, but have remained distinct for all
these years.


Kenneth,

Are these starters maintained on white flour, or are you using a whole
grain?

Will


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Old 21-02-2008, 06:54 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Thu, 21 Feb 2008 08:30:15 -0800 (PST), Will
wrote:

On Feb 21, 10:22 am, Kenneth
wrote:

They are fed identically, but have remained distinct for all
these years.


Kenneth,

Are these starters maintained on white flour, or are you using a whole
grain?

Will


Hi Will,

King Arthur AP...

But say something more about why you asked.

All the best,
--
Kenneth

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Old 21-02-2008, 08:39 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Feb 21, 11:54 am, Kenneth
wrote:

But say something more about why you asked.


If you remember, a couple years back you sent me some of your Acme
starter. It was excellent and quite different from the starters I was
using. I put it on a regimen of white wheat flour (Montana gold), fed
it regularly, which was not a chore as I was using it a lot. And it
changed. I have always harbored the suspicion that if I'd kept to
regular AP flour I would have been better off. I have had little
success in developing new starters with AP flour and 100% success with
whole wheats or ryes. Which is to say... AP has less critters. At the
time though, I was under the impression that a dominant culture stays
dominant.

And it probably does if you're using AP.

Will
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Old 21-02-2008, 08:57 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Thu, 21 Feb 2008 11:39:58 -0800 (PST), Will
wrote:

On Feb 21, 11:54 am, Kenneth
wrote:

But say something more about why you asked.


If you remember, a couple years back you sent me some of your Acme
starter. It was excellent and quite different from the starters I was
using. I put it on a regimen of white wheat flour (Montana gold), fed
it regularly, which was not a chore as I was using it a lot. And it
changed. I have always harbored the suspicion that if I'd kept to
regular AP flour I would have been better off. I have had little
success in developing new starters with AP flour and 100% success with
whole wheats or ryes. Which is to say... AP has less critters. At the
time though, I was under the impression that a dominant culture stays
dominant.

And it probably does if you're using AP.

Will


Hey Will,

Is that your way of asking that I send you some more
ACME...?G

If so, I would be happy to.

All the best,
--
Kenneth

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Old 22-02-2008, 06:58 AM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Being new to the group and a relative novice I'm a bit hesitant to
chime in, but I do have A LOT of experience with yeast having
maintained many yeast cultures (home brewing) for several years now.

Among homebrewers, there are several prevalent myths:

First is that yeast can only be "re-used" for 4 or 5 generations and
then only if you are going to reuse them in a short time. The concern
is mutation of the yeast which will ultimately alter your beer. I
have several cultures that I've maintained for over 4 years and none
of them have exhibited any change in characteristics.

Second is that if one is going to attempt a Lambic the entire house
must be sterilized afterwards as the "wild yeast" will take over and
all of your follow-on brews will take on the unique characteristics of
a lambic. Again, I've maintained and brewed with "wild" lambic yeasts
(and are they really wild if you order them from a laboratory?)
without any migration into subsequent fermentations.

The only conclusions I can draw is that yeast strains are as unique
and individual as the rest of us and while susceptible to mutations
and migrations, these things take time and proper care will if not
prevent, at least forestall significant changes. Some strains prefer
different conditions (lager vs ale yeasts) to perform at their peak
and all produce different results (flavors) depending on their
environment and diet.

Again, I'm new to sourdough, but if brewing yeasts are that varied, I
can't imagine that baking yeasts would be all that different. The
questions that beg a

Has anyone done any research on wild yeast strains by region? i.e.
Are there unique qualities associated with starters grown with 'local
wild yeasts?"

and:

How many different starters (strains) do people maintain at any given
time?

and lastly:

Anyone ever try brewers yeast? It thrives in an acid environment but I
think you'd have to inoculate the batch with the bacteria to complete
the process.

Just a couple of random thoughts...


All the best,
Bill P.
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Old 22-02-2008, 11:31 AM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Hi Kenneth,

Yes I seem to remember using almost the same analogy a while back, but
I think mine was sheep and cattle, anyway, I think the point is, the
buffalo aren't going to change but if you have a competition for food
and a resident population of chickens, if the chickens are more
efficient at eating up the food then you'd have more chickens than
buffalo, eventually having no buffalo. But what if the buffalo are
more efficient than the local population of chickens?

The truth in all this is we just don't know on either side of the
argument but I think common sense and what research we have seen is
that the flour is what is important not where you live. All that
smacks of Mal-aria or miasma of the 19th Century. I always site fungal
spore spread across vast areas and how the Amazon is fertilized by the
Sahara, so if sand can be transported vast distances then little yeast
and bacteria floating in the air certainly can be, so any idea of
local from an air standpoint is ludicrous.

I used to assert that my starters all run true but now I've realised
that what I've done with the bake has so much more of an effect on the
flavour that it's almost impossible to tell without good side by side
tests, I'm not suggesting for a second that I don't believe your
starters hold true, Ed Wood's starters all were or seemed different to
me too, all grown on the same flour and in the same area. He certainly
gets no complaints about that at least.

Jim

On 21 Feb, 16:22, Kenneth wrote:
On Thu, 21 Feb 2008 07:19:41 -0800 (PST), Will
...
Hi Will,

....
Say you have a herd of water buffalo somewhere in Asia, but
you move 'em to Colorado and start to feed them cracked
corn.

After several years of breeding would we expect them to have
become a flock of chickens?
....
All the best, *
--
Kenneth



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Old 22-02-2008, 01:19 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Fri, 22 Feb 2008 02:31:08 -0800 (PST), TG
wrote:


I used to assert that my starters all run true but now I've realised
that what I've done with the bake has so much more of an effect on the
flavour that it's almost impossible to tell without good side by side
tests


Hi Jim,

I agree with what you have written above, but was not
assessing the differences between the two starts I mentioned
by taste or by baking characteristics.

The two about which I made my comment are ACME and Poilne.

I know with certainty that if I refresh them and carefully
weigh out equal amounts the ACME rises faster.

I have done this simple test many times over many years
using an identical pair of graduate cylinders and the
difference is always quite dramatic.

Though, of course, we could debate the reason, I feel
certain that these starters have remained different.

Also, when you wrote:

but if you have a competition for food
and a resident population of chickens, if the chickens are more
efficient at eating up the food then you'd have more chickens than
buffalo, eventually having no buffalo.


I agree completely, but mentioned in my comment:

provided that modifications of the environment are not so
extreme as to kill off the "breeding stock" of one or more
of the "subspecies."


and finally, you said:

Ed Wood's starters all were or seemed different to
me too, all grown on the same flour and in the same area. He certainly
gets no complaints about that at least.


but I am curious about why you think he gets no such
complaints. Do you think he would tell us?

All the best,
--
Kenneth

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Old 22-02-2008, 02:59 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On 22 Feb, 12:19, Kenneth wrote:
On Fri, 22 Feb 2008 02:31:08 -0800 (PST), TG


but I am curious about why you think he gets no such
complaints. Do you think he would tell us?

All the best,
--
Kenneth



No but I'm sure I'd have heard here or in one of the groups after all
this time. He certainly got no complaints from me. Like I said also,
I'm sure what you've observed is accurate, that is my feeling I just
haven't done any side by side tests in years to compare two starters.
I'm really not worried though, whatever starter I use I get good
tasting bread from it, the flavour varies more with the same starter
because of temps and times than I've noticed from changing a starter.
So I just use the starter that's in the fridge till something comes
along that causes me to change.

Jim
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Old 22-02-2008, 05:33 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Feb 21, 1:57 pm, Kenneth wrote:

Is that your way of asking that I send you some more
ACME...?G


Kenneth,

You are a generous soul. And I would certainly appreciate another bit
of that Acme starter whenever it's convenient.

My logic last time around was faulty. I have always had good success
with starters on white wheat and "assumed" it would make the Acme even
better. In hindsight, that was risky. The better practice would have
been to keep a version on AP and "trial" a separate effort on the
wheat.

But you know how it is, to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld: there are the
known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. He should
have fooled with starter. Sometimes you simply don't know what you
don't know g.

Will
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Old 22-02-2008, 06:24 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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On Fri, 22 Feb 2008 08:33:51 -0800 (PST), Will
wrote:

On Feb 21, 1:57 pm, Kenneth wrote:

Is that your way of asking that I send you some more
ACME...?G


Kenneth,

You are a generous soul. And I would certainly appreciate another bit
of that Acme starter whenever it's convenient.


Hi Will,

Please email me with your address...

All the best,
--
Kenneth

If you email... Please remove the "SPAMLESS."


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