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Is it "cheating" to use bread yeast for sourdough?

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 23 January 2018 at 13:54
...asking for a friend....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2018 at 17:40
Cheating? No, but . . . 

I'm no expert but I have started cultures a few times including once by using domestic yeast. As I understand things, the wild yeasts are quite different from the cultured strains. I know that the culture I started with tame yeast tasted and acted considerably different from the wild developed ones I started. Bread from the wild strains is far tastier though less reliable and slower to develop. The tastiness may well have been because of the slow rise times of sourdough rather than the actual yeasts involved. The best one I ever had used grape skins from a vine just up the street included in the original mix. I think it may have been successful because the grape skins contributed a native yeast that was already adapted to local conditions. I remember reading on a bread site (The Fresh Loaf, maybe?) about people using a wide variety of natural products in their starters. Rye flour is often used as it is a less refined flour and thus retains wild yeasts in the flour itself. I have also found good info from The King Arthur Baker's Companion and The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. Growing your own starter is fun when all goes well, frustrating when it doesn't.

Once I started a culture from a strain that had originally been carried west on the Oregon Trail. As far as I know it is still available for the cost of a SASE. Unfortunately, I understand that if you import a culture in this way it will soon be overwhelmed by local wild yeasts--just kinda from out of the air.

One caveat: If your culture develops a foul smell or turns odd colors, toss it and start again. Do NOT use it!

Good luck.
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Tom

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2018 at 17:43
Oh, one more thing. Occasionally I have seen recipes that use an SD culture and then add domestic  yeast. The aim in such a recipe is to speed up the rise by using the tame yeast while (hopefully) maintaining the characteristic taste of the sourdough.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2018 at 08:52
Originally posted by Tom Tom wrote:

Once I started a culture from a strain that had originally been carried west on the Oregon Trail.


I actually have one of those envelopes, somewhere in the house. I got it quite a while ago, and never got around to it. I wonder if it would still be viable?

If I am reading correctly, Tom, it sounds as though even if a sourdough is started with domestic yeast, the "wild ones" eventually creep in? If that is the case, then I won't be too concerned about it.

Or, I could go ahead and start from complete scratch; I've done it before here:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/sourdough-starter_topic504.html

The results were fair, as I recall, but I never really kept up with it. That will probably be the case here, as well, but it would be nice to have some on hand. My son and I go to the mountains to fish and cook breakfast now and then, and it would be great to make some sourdough pancakes or biscuits with him over a fire.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2018 at 15:28
I would think the O-Trail culture should still be good as long as it hasn't been exposed to high heat.

Yeah, that's my understanding--the wild yeasts slip in and eventually take over.

My experience is that a good starter stays good by regular feeding, so even if you don't bake with it whenever it's ready you should still feed it on regular schedule for best results.

For camping, I would consider using starter plus domestic yeast recipes. Unreliable times and temps for rising might be a problem.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2018 at 15:30
One more thing:  A starter can be slowed down by refrigerating, but still needs to be fed occasionally. I lost my best one by not tending it for a couple months.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2018 at 15:54
>>>For camping, I would consider using starter plus domestic yeast recipes. Unreliable times and temps for rising might be a problem.<<<

That makes sense - I'll see what I can come up with, and report back as I can.

Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gunhaus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 February 2018 at 10:57
If you make your initial starter with store bought yeast, initially it will be a "milder" flavor. But if you store in the fridge, and once a month take it out, remove half, and feed it with and equal replacement - then leave the newly fed jar of beasties out over night before returning to the fridge the wild things will eventually move in and begin to dominate. Over time your starter will develop its own character and mellowness. I kept one for about ten years like this and it evolved nicely. I think, there may even be an advantage to making your starter with store bought, in that it gives you a solid start and removes the randomness of wild yeast. Just as with liquid fermentation, not all wild yeasties are so pleasant to the taste buds. And although i can't prove it empirically I think that by starting with the stable store bought yeast the inevitable influx of wild yeasts are forced to "conform" to more pleasant flavor profiles. Kind of like when you start a beer/wine/cider, and you find yourself needing to add a second pitch - and the new yeast takes on most of the character of the original that has already started the fermentation.

As an aside, I have been toying with the idea of making a new starter, using cultivated yeast from the dregs of a bottle finished brown ale i have on hand. I have used this beer as the liquid component for that slow fermented/raised no-knead bread recipe that has been around forever, and it adds an excellent flavor. My thought was to harvest a few bottles worth of dregs, feed it back to frothy for a day or two, and then use that liquid to start the starter - I can;t really go anywhere or do all that much so it might be a fun project to try and a great excuse to drink a few beers - For the scientific good and all! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 February 2018 at 11:24
I think that might work pretty well; I've heard of a couple of folks doing it, but don't remember anything about the results. It stands to reason that you should end up with something, though. And, as you say, the research process would be nice enough, in any event!

Let us know how it goes, if you give it a try ~
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