Barm

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy
Could someone (John, Boris) Give us a short Barm 101 sort of brief or lesson!


Very humbly yours,
Jeremy
Category: 
up
216 users have voted.

Replies

Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 February 22
I'll have to decline adding any comment on this thread for the time being and defer to greater minds on this subject, but as I said earlier, I'll be reading with great interest.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 February 23

The best source to read on barm,in my opinion,is Elizabeth David,in her brilliant "English Bread and Yeast Cookery", one of the best books available on the subject of bread, largely because she treats bread as food,not a scientific or technical object. Also she doesnt claim to be the sole arbiter on subjects like barm.

Briefly, barm is the term used to refer to the yeast scooped from the surface(NOT the bottom) of a freshly brewed wort. The wort is a  liquid made from crushed malted barley, rye, wheats(including spelt and durums) or millets and water. Barm is not made with beer.The best barms come from the traditional ales, not a lager.

Depending on the skill of the brewer (often also the baker),the barms varied considerably. Apocryphal reports of unreliability or explosions are due to unskilled procedures,much in the way sourdoughs vary with skill.

The barm was usually washed to remove contaminants and bitterness, and can be stored as a "stock" to innoculate bread doughs,or added directly to the dough as a "maiden". A skillful baker could cycle a barm infused dough for long periods without recourse to a re-inoculation.

Barm is a polyculture of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae families, and "rouge" yeasts were excluded by careful management. Modern "bakers yeast" was isolated from  barm in the 19th century, and monocultured.

doughman 2008 February 23
Jeremy,

I don't know anything about barm, but I've heard about Monica Spiller preaching about barm over the years.  Her site is www.barmbaker.com.  She has barm kits you can purchase from her.  Maybe you can ask her for more info.
Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 February 23

Saw that barm baker site, thanks!

I have a local brewery, maybe I can ask for some wort?

Or I should try home brewing again, did it once in the 80's, beer sucked taste wise but looked like the real thing!

 

P.S. could you produce your own wort at home? The Koreans make roasted barley tea and sell the roasted barley in bags?

Cheers

JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 February 23

Thanks so much for that link doughman,i cant get it to download yet! The barley has to be perfectly sprouted and roasted for a proper wort. The mugi cha of which you speak,(made from hato(naked) barley)is very roasted,and may make a wort for stout,but i dont think it is sprouted correctly. You can just use malt extract,and its easy to make a wort, although the specific gravity has to be correct. Also,the appropriate malted barley can be purchased from brewing stores, ready ground or whole.

Finding the correct innoculant yeasts is the problem,as worts do not spontaneously ferment easily,and can  spoil,or be inhabited by rouges. As barms are a polyculture of the Sacc C family,simply using your brewerys yeast wont work,because they all use monoculture innoculants. I cover this extensively in a forthcoming book.

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 February 23
Looking forward to the book! hmmm so your saying malt extract could work, I have a beer making book around here somewhere, perhaps I will give it a go? What about beer as a straight levain or reinoculate for a levain?
The mugi cha is actually tasty and I never thought of it as a stout producer? Wow , your opening this  clogged brain of mine, thanks  again  John!
I wish I had some wise thing to say but, hell I am just a cook!


Jeremy
Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 February 23
So you could use the dregs? Or am I not on the same sheet of music?
I did look through Elizabeth David's book last night! Will have to hit the library and do some perusing!


Just had a nice pilsner from Czech republic, cheers!
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 February 23
Thanks doughman,got it...and enter the web of confusion! They reckon its a sourdough lol.The whole aim of using barm is to not get the "twang"(celtic onomatapoeia) or sourness, which that cultural group did not appreciate.
Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 February 23
I guess that last bottle I swallowed all of the left overs anyway that is why I forgot about the dregs, hicccup!


Ta!
Panevino 2008 February 25
Hey John, where does one find the correct yeast to innoculate a barm wort?  I know that brew shops have many types of liquid yeast culture - could they have a polycultural innoculant? or are they all mono.  Maybe Lallemand makes one that would work as they seem to make all kinds of yeasts and bacteria for the food and beverage industry.

Cheers

Tony
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 February 25
Hi Tony, Lallemand?, you in France? What i do is buy ALL the "old" English ale yeasts i can,particularly from different makers,and pitch all of them.It takes time...sourdough is a piece of cake( not bad pun eh?) compared to barm brewing and making. If you are successful in spon fermenting a wort you will have a polyculture. But to get a correct one is SO hard! And then you have to husband it like a neurotic...nobody wants that sort of wife!!!. Walter Banfield said barm was of a past age and should be left there because it was so fiddly. In the right hands though,it makes awesome bread.
Panevino 2008 March 1
Hey John, I have a question that's been picking at me for days now: how does one know that the barm one has is in fact polycultural and not monocultural?

Cheers,

Tony
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 1

If you procure different strains of English Ale yeasts from different manufacturers,and start "pitch" a wort fermentation with them, (say 3or 4) they will interbreed and begin"families",which will produce new families and so on. Dominant strains will emerge. Its life,and as such,not static...yeasts morph rapidly from environmental stimulants. You can have mutations as well,and if they are dominant,whole new strains.Its just a matter of time.....time enables this development. You may have to reculture to get more diversity.

So to answer, in time with the approprate medium,you will definitely get polycultures...even if you start with a monoculture......its life....and the same as human interbreeding and genetics,except an a vastly shorter time scale. From what ive seen,yeasts can morph into a variety (or a strain can predominate) which suits a new substrate in about 12 hours....if the yeasts are a "virile" strains. Most modern bakers yeast is not virile and will die out suprisingly rapidly.

you can see and smell the changes in the biology of the medium..the artisans clues and cues to as to how a fermentation is progressing.


 

Panevino 2008 March 2
In some ways then it's less predictable than a sourdough culture?

Do you keep it as a liquid and if so what is the feeding made of - malt?  Or do you turn it into a flour based medium and then feed it flour?

Have you read The Life of Yeasts. by H. J. Phaff, M. W.
 Miller, E. M. Mrak?  Older book but really interesting.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 2

A sourdough forms a self-protective ecology of yeasts/bacteria/and other agents, and in the true sense it is a culture...a whole. A barm is,as ive said,far more difficult to maintain than a sourdough, and periodically needs a new injection of yeasts,or a complete overhaul. It can easily become infected by rouge yeasts...and demands a high skill level. Barm bakers were proto-chemists as well as alchemists...verging on witchcraft. The barm is a polyculture of yeasts, but thats all. There is no bacterial component.

Barm is continually brewed in a wort. A good family of yeasts is maintained as a "stock" in sterile water,the yeasts having been "washed". The dough is innoculated,and a long ferment, 12 or more hours is needed to get it to reproduce in the dough. I grow it in a sponge of flour water and non-di malt, before adding to a dough,which was common practice. Some used a "parisian" barm,which was scalded flour and malt.

Dough is kept to re-seed subsequent batches.but can lose its vigour easily if not maintained scrupulously. In that event,a wort or dough can be reseeded with the stock,to grow more yeast....or barm can be sourced from a brewer,or another baker. Some bakers kept their barms going indefinitely by maintaining their stock. Its really hard to get the right culture from a spontaneous ferment of a wort, unless its in a bakery where the yeasts are part of the woodwork, and that is how the "spon" ferment worked.

Havent read that book, but looks very interesting. thanks.

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 March 2
So how does one get a wort going, roasted barley that is sprouted, malting then?
Bloody hell of a lot of work, especially for a city marm like me! lol!
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 2

What a sleuth you are.....thats interesting isnt it,theyve called it a barm,but its a sourdough culture....(barms dont have Lb,and they have maltose dependant yeasts)..... with the right type of yeast and lactobacillus...which they want to patent!!...its like a sourdough "monoculture". A conventional baker could just start it up and away he/she goes with a "sourdough"....but probably going to use the term "barm" to get a commercial point of difference.

 Ive used some U.S.dried sourdough ,and a German one,and they were both really inferior to my culture,the German one made really strange bread...like a sourdough,but all the dynamic was missing, the flavour was compromised,and like it was a "replicant" sourdough. Its clear too that it would be less nutritious, and maybe less digestible....but in perspective potentially a "better" bread,but allied with chemical equations as most breads are,who the f knows? It would be good to trial it within accepted sourdough parameters and see what it did. 

Theyve isolated a brute strain of saccC that isnt a maltose feeder. I`d like to give it to my leaven and watch!

Yep i rave on abt it in the book.I dont really know a lot,i still havent done it commercially,which would be the test, (walk the talk)...and what used to be done...but will take it up when ive got more time. You have to be possessed................................. 

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 March 3
John,
I want to send you a sample of my sourdough, I will dry it and you ought to ask Teresa of Northwest Sourdough for a sample too, can you mix two starters together or is that considered contamination or hybrid!

JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 March 3
Why do you want to send me  your culture...drying it is not really worth it??....thanks,it would be interesting if i had more time,but im up to my neck in bizziness!!! it would languish im afraid....

Post Reply

Already a member? Login