What does a Biga become if you feed it over weeks and weeks....?

Steini
Hi guys,

I've just recently discovered this site and have to say I'm super impressed at the volume of information here ... and with the results shown here too.

I've baked breads before and used to bake mainly yeasted ones but have also experimented with sourdough ... I decided to make my own bread again a few weeks ago and saw this simple "quick" starter recipe somewhere in a cookbook using only a sprinkle of dry yeast, which would be a Biga starter from what I can gather from the forums ....
My question now is would you still call it a Biga starter after feeding and refreshing it over weeks? .... it works great actually and has a beautiful smell too.
I use 100% light rye flour for refreshing....
I guess the yeast strains in it would be different from "wild" strains but it definately has developed a good bacteria/lactobacilli...

Thanks
Steini
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Replies

Graham's picture
Graham 2008 October 7
Hi Steini,

I expect that the acidity of your biga would largely determine if any/how much baker's yeast remains in your brew. Saccharomyces cerevisiae does not like acid environments, whereas there are wild yeasts that do.

Your system of storing and refreshing the biga has promoted the right environment for the growth of bacteria/lactobacilli that you are enjoying. Can it ever evolve to a pure sourdough or are you perpetually cultivating baker's yeast or a hybrid? Hopefully one of our 'professors' will provide a more concise answer.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 October 8
Hi Steini, the short answer is that yeast morphs very quickly. You have morphed the Sacc C into a strain which is acid tolerant (but i bet your culture isnt very acid). Usually dried yeast just dies under culturing, but you are lucky enough to have found a few cells which are robust.. So what you have is akin to what was called a "barm". However, it will probably morph even more and  become "contaminated" with wild yeasts which will dominate. Your yeasts will simply become more feral, and morph into dreadlocked rastas....a sourdough....given time.
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 October 8
Saccharomyces cerevisiae does like an acid environment.  This is the yeast that we use at work to ferment wine with.  The pH of wine is normally between 3pH to 4pH.  We even try to keep the pH in even a little bit tighter range, 3.2pH to 3.8pH. Now in the winery we don't like to let the pH get to high because it is an environment that Latobacillus will thrive in so many winemakers will acidify the wine to keep Latobacillus from spoiling the wine.  Yeast also once they are fermenting produce by products that are toxic to other yeast so once a yeast is established it is very hard to get another yeast to even start growing.  Now all of the above is in a wine environment but what happens in a bread environment?
This is one of the reasons I make bread and use sourdough.  I want to find out what the similarities between the two disciplines.  I think it might be very possible that the strain of yeast that is dominate in your starter is what you inoculated it with.  You seem to indicate that it has some bacteria that is doing well in the starter and I don't see any reason why  Latobacillus or some other bacteria wouldn't develop a nice culture in the starter over a few weeks time.  Personally I wouldn't worry about what to call it if it is making good bread.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 October 8
Using the term" Saccharomyces Cerevisiae" is like using the word "people". Sacc C comes in myriad forms and is highly mutagenic (it morphs easily).An acid tolerant variety of it is known to live in an authentic sourdough culture, but is kept in its place by the more robust wild yeasts, and the acidity. As you continue this culture Stieni, it will change, is what im saying.
Steini 2008 October 9
Thanks for the replies guys,

it's very interesting to hear some opinions from some more experienced bakers on this... of course will I be using this starter since I'm pretty happy with the bread it produces .... the starter has actually changed quite a bit since the beginning, I have no idea about the pH levels but from the smell I'd say it's become more acidic over time also the bubble structure on the top has changed ...

I might start an other "pure" starter just as an experiment and compare the two and see if the first one has morphed into something close or is distinctively different ...
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 October 10
John and Graham I'm still curious about what I see posted lots of times that Saccharomyces cerevisiae doesn't like acid environment.  I have looked around the net a lot trying to find any information I can on the subject but haven't found anything yet.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 October 10
As i said to Steini,there are acid tolerant strains of Sacc C, and it will (as a virus will ), revert to appropriate forms in order to survive. The static view of microbes is unreal.However, the acid tolerant strains arent the types which replicate rapidly and aerate a bread dough well.

 Think about people in order to develop a dynamic view.Generally we prefer the French in the kitchen and the Germans making machinery...theres a common joke about that....and when the roles are reversed, we get a Citroen car and sauerkraut, as opposed to a VW/BMW/AUDI and creme caramel...but we are all "humans"...yeasts are even more dynamic in their variations and ability to mutate or selectively survive stress. So to think there is a discrete entity called "Saccharomyces cerevisiae" is a mistake....there are many variations of it...Italians/chinese/africans.
jacklang 2008 October 10
Martinez-Anaya in "Handbook of Dough Fermentation" edited by Kulp and Lorenz, ISBN 0-8247-4267-8 or available electronically, for example if you have an Athens login, on p 65 state
"In starters where the bacterial population is composed of L. Brevis spp Lindneri and or L. sanfrancisensis the addition of S.Cerevisiae either commercial or maltose grown, at levels of the order of those of the resident sourdough yeasts results in the elimination of the baker's yeast after two refreshments"

They reference (but I've not checked)
J Rossi Adv Food Sci 18/5:201 (1996)
and
M.J.R.Nout and T Creemers Molnaar Chem Mikrobiol Technol Lebensm 10:162 (1987)


Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 October 10
[quote=JohnD]...theres a common joke about that....and when the roles are reversed, we get a Citroen car and sauerkraut, as opposed to a VW/BMW/AUDI and creme caramel...[/quote] 

Gee, I've believed good quality sauerkraut is like good sourdough..... perhaps it's a cultural thing.  ;)
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 October 11
Wasnt making a value judgement, just trying to be relative, and loose....real sauerkraut is wonderful...i dont like creme caramel, and like Citroens....but in a culinary sense, creme caramel is a more sophisticated and technical creation than sauerkraut...and one would be either rich or passionate to buy a Citroen, instead of the vw/audi/bmw option.

It was an illusion to create a mindscape of quantum dynamism and fluidity in the real world as opposed to a didactic , static mindset which characterises most science in its descriptions of the natural world....that is, Sacc C as an immutable life form which is always the same.
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 October 11
Thanks John for the info.  I have been doing lots of reading on the subject and yes the one conclusion that you can draw about the yeast is that they are very diverse.  That really isn't surprising to me because we use a multitude of different yeast at work to ferment wine.  During my reading I even found out about you.  I'm from the other side of the world in California so I had never heard of you before.  The use of people from my point of view isn't a very good analogy for yeast because I was looking at the situation from an environmental point of view.  People as far as I know can live in any other environment that other people can live in but I understand the point that you make.
Here is what I was expecting to find in the sourdough environment or something very similar.  In wine at the beginning of fermentation there isn't a dominate yeast.  The yeast that ends up being the dominate yeast of the fermentation develops a hostile environment that it thrives in but doesn't allow another yeast to become established.  I thought I found something that seemed to indicate to me that this happens in sourdough but I have never studied microbiology so I'm don't know if this exists in sourdough.  The lactobacilli is said to "secrete an antibotic cycloheximide which "sterilises" the dough since it kills organisms but of course Candida milleri is resistant to cycloheximide"  This was from the writings of Darrell Greenwood What is the microbiology of San Francisco Sourdough?  I also found that on the acid front in wine if yeast aren't feed a balanced diet their cell membranes become flabby and they die an early death pickled by acid (H+ ion accumulation) and ethanol. Anyway lots of interesting reading out there on the subject and about the time you think you can come to an conclusion you find something that says something different.  In sourdough do we even care or talk about yeast nutrients?  In wine we do because it is very important for the yeast to complete the fermentation.  I know in sourdough we kill the yeast off by cooking before they complete the fermentation so this could be something as bakers that we don't find important to our task.
I found some more interesting reading in this thread on a forum at this link here.  http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=85685&st=30 [quote]350 The conditions under which a culture is developed and then maintained can351 select out strains of yeast and bacteria that have special
352 characteristics, and the typical yeasts present in the air and soil in
353 different locations also vary somewhat in their properties and their
354 interactions with lactobacilli. This kind of co-evolution makes some355 natural leavens remarkably stable when regularly maintained. The more
356 regular and consistent the maintenance, the more predictable the rising
357 power, microbiological composition, acid balance (acetic/lactic) and acid
358 production will be.[/quote] said to be from Gänzle a microbiologist who researches sourdough.  Then just when everything seemed to make sense I found this conclusion of a study by some more researchers.  [quote]Conclusion: This work shows that the dominant species in homemade sourdoughs can differ from each other. Saccharomyces cerevisiae was found to be the dominant species, followed by the Candida milleri, C. humilis, S. exiguus and Issatchenkia orientalis. The inter-δ regions of S. cerevisiae strains showed high polymorphism. Pulvirenti A, Solieri L, Gullo M, De Vero L, Giudici P., Lett Appl Microbiol. 2004;38(2):113-7.)[/quote]  Their work was to identify the dominate yeast species in homemade sourdoughs.
My conclusion?  I learned a lot that was helpful to me in understanding sourdough and maybe help me make better bread.  What is going on in Steini's dough?  You would have to have it tested to know for sure.  Seems to me after all of this reading that it is the lactobacilli that is the important part of the sourdough starter.  There are still so many more questions but I hope I haven't rambled around to much and brought up some interesting areas to look in to.
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 October 11
Hey Dog, thanks, you raise some interesting stuff.The people analogy wasnt meant to be literal, rather popular, and on that level it just sets the scene.

Im really interested in wine making, because i live near and work in Mclarenvale amongst the vines, the old... Shiraz and the new Nebbiolo and San G etc. and what i call Chemists rather than wine makers. The must is always killed as soon as the grapes arrive, and the long course of medication begins........mention a wild ferment and everyone freaks and just laughs derisively. However the wine i like is when i get freshpicked grapes and ferment it on the skins til i "know" its right. My parameters are completely ambient and sensual.Im sure you know, and this is the best bubbly imagineable, and heady. I realize it doesnt achieve the complexity and sophistication of a fine aged wine, but it does have plenty from the robust ferment which has its own organoleptic structure.

With respect, i think Its of little use to know that the wine contains Sacc C, or that the sourdough contains hexamexatamale, except that it allows us to use ambient parameters rather than chemical or biological ones, in order to achieve excellence in fermentation....because thats what science has given us, an ability to control ambient parameters (refrigeration/heating/cooling/snap freezing etc).....we dont take the bridge with us when we cross it.....and the science of food studies freaks me out coz its always reduced to an ugly common denominator by the  corporations who just make junk food out of it, you know, science is utterly irresponsible, and derides people skills in favour of controls. Im a great science fan and a proto-scientist, but scientism, which has us all by the throat, will strangle the juice out of us.

So what you say about these self-protective systems, is the ultimate key to excellence in fermentation. These are the systems that artisans used to maintain, which achieved incredible results with learnt, corresponded and instinctive parameters....not chems or bio-inoculations. Maintaining them with rigor prevents "off"batches, which inevitably happen,but less so in the hands of skilled operators. It also produces the best flavours and most bio-available nutrition.The science is the people skill.

I learnt quickly that i could control the wild ferment on the skins if i strained it and refrigerated (science gift) the juice. It is simply delicious and refreshing, and heady.Big deal, i know, but it demonstrated to me that learning, acutely observing the cues is the Tao of fermentation, and produces a superior product both nutritionally and organoleptically.So much food is chemical today, its making us all sick.( I  know people made sick by wine(not drunk sick) which i believe is a chemical poisoning because the alcohol is capable of transmitting minute amounts,,,molecules even of the plethora of chems used on wines from the herb/pesticde on the grape to the chems the wine0chemists add).
 I treat wine making in the same way as bread, it must be pure, because its vital food, so im pissed with the wine industry and love hearing about freaks who ferment by the Tao, rather than the chems, and the same applies to all the fermenting arts...cheese/beer/miso/youhurts...we have made wine forever before these chemical/industrial centuries. It is in reality Zen and the art of....and im waiting for a wine made under such circumstances,in the same way we breadheads stormed the Bastille and started making sourdough again.Maybe i just havent found the wines or freaks?
Graham's picture
Graham 2008 October 11

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LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 October 12
Graham funny Google adds there.  You must get some money from them but I just realized my browser blocks the Google adds.
John your ramblings make sense to so now I get to ramble about wine and maybe a little bit about bread.
I do work at a very large winery and my job title is Wine Chemist.  We have about five winemakers who work there also.  The wine we make is like you think a large industrial enterprise.  The product doesn't go to the low levels of plain white bread in my opinion.  We also make very small batches of wine for our wine club and tasting room.  These small batches are the winemakers pride and joy.
Comments on the toxins left over from the vineyard.  I have seen agriculture like you describe and I just hate the whole idea of it.  Our winery/vineyard is active with Central Coast Vineyard Team and part of the leadership of it.  Here is a statement as to what they are all about.[quote]

MISSION STATEMENT

The Central Coast Vineyard Team will identify and promote the most environmentally safe, viticulturally and economically sustainable farming methods, while maintaining or improving quality and flavor of wine grapes. The Team will be a model for wine grape growers and will promote the public trust of stewardship for natural resources

 [/quote]I feel as a winery and vineyard we are working in the right direction but I also think they miss a few points.
Now a little bit about me.  I started the local organic chapter here in my area.  Then the big boys found out that you can make big money by using the name organic so I just quit using the term.  I have just started a vineyard and it is important to me to farm the grapes in a healthy nature manner.  The wine I make you will find interesting.  The grape has everything needed to do the fermentation when it is picked.  The skin has a white powder on it and that is the yeast.  Grapes that are not unnaturally pushed with chemicals have the nutrients needed for the yeast to have a healthy fermentation.  I worked for a few years in the cellar and I picked up some observations about fermenting wines so I don't ferment by what the results in the lab say.  When I walk in the vineyard I pick the grapes and eat them.  There is a strange thing that happens as you eat the grapes over the course of weeks or a month.  The day will come that my brain just says this grape tastes wonderful and now is the time to harvest and make wine.  That is when I pick the grapes.  I don't pick according to sugar or acid content.  Next I just crush the grapes by stopping on them with my feet and let them start fermenting.  I taste the must daily and notice the changes that it goes through.  The must when it nears the end of alcohol fermentation loses its sweet taste and the yeast stop making CO2 so the skins fall to the bottom of the vat.  Now it is time to press the wine off from the skins and put it into barrels.  At this point most wineries do a Malolactic fermentation and I let the natural bacteria do this for me.  I do test for the level of Malic Acid in the lab to see when this fermentation is done.  There isn't a sensory means that I can use that enables me to determine that the Malolactic fermentation is done.  At this point I add a little bit of SO2 to the wine to keep acetobactor from turning the wine into vinegar.  The vinegar is good also by the way.  Then I age the wine for a year or two and bottle it.  I think you will find it interesting that there are quite a number or wineries that make wine this way.  One of the side benefits is that it makes the wine more complex.  There is also the idea that the wine needs to express the flavor of the place from where the grapes were grown and the wine was made.  This is one reason why wineries use the yeast that comes with the grapes.  The French have a name for it called Terroir.  Look that word up in Google and have some fun learning about it.
What does this all have to do with sourdough bread making?  Both fields use yeast and Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) to make their products.  In the wine industry lactobacillus is not wanted and will spoil the wine if it gets a chance.  I have found by reading bread forums that I have gotten away from following recipes on how to make bread but use my senses and make bread by the feedback that it gives me.  I have been making much better bread since I started doing that.
John I too love wine/grape juice when it first starts to ferment and it is all fizzy and bubbly too.  Time to go grind up some wheat for my next Ciabatta. Bye.
Graham's picture
Graham 2008 October 12
Your personal label wine has a nice rhythm to it LeadDog. I wish there was a better alternative to S02. I have mild asthma and sulphur dioxide in wine, apricots, etc triggers an episode. As a photographer in a winery I was almost on my knees once when the winemakers decided to flush their pipes with S02 during a shoot. The non-asthmatics were also made short of breath, just not as bad.

We do have sulphur-free wine over hear but the pleasant ones are very expensive, whereas reliably good sulphur wines are cheap. I usually opt for the sulphur wine and tolerate lack of breath for the first glass or so (additional drinks appear to relax my airways...so the tightness is reduced...or maybe I am just numb to it!).

I guess bakers are lucky being able to stop fermentation using an oven. I'm not even going to look at the google ads for this post...too scared to discover a company promoting sulphurless fermentation-stopping techniques using irradiation! (tell me it isn't so?)
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2008 October 12
[quote=Graham]Your personal label wine has a nice rhythm to it LeadDog. I wish there was a better alternative to S02. I have mild asthma and sulphur dioxide in wine, apricots, etc triggers an episode. As a photographer in a winery I was almost on my knees once when the winemakers decided to flush their pipes with S02 during a shoot. The non-asthmatics were also made short of breath, just not as bad.

We do have sulphur-free wine over hear but the pleasant ones are very expensive, whereas reliably good sulphur wines are cheap. I usually opt for the sulphur wine and tolerate lack of breath for the first glass or so (additional drinks appear to relax my airways...so the tightness is reduced...or maybe I am just numb to it!).

I guess bakers are lucky being able to stop fermentation using an oven. I'm not even going to look at the google ads for this post...too scared to discover a company promoting sulphurless fermentation-stopping techniques using irradiation! (tell me it isn't so?)
[/quote]
My personal wine label?  LeadDog Wine? Or Dog Wine?  
I do believe that many wineries already have the means to stop using SO2.  I have made wine without SO2 and it was great.  Winemakers just need to think about how to go about doing it.  Flushing lines with SO2 is dangerous and mindless.  There are much better ways to sanitizes a winery's lines than with SO2.  The Google adds most likely have a product that is marketed by the "Angel of Death".  That is the nickname the industry has given to the person who markets a product that kills everything in wine.
I think I'm finished reading on this subject for a while but seems if what I read then Jack Lang is also very knowledgeable about sourdough.  There seems to be a lot of posts on the forum at egullet.org by someone that I think is you.  Thanks to all of you for an interesting discussion.  Now I think I'll shut up before I say something really dumb.
Graham's picture
Graham 2008 October 12
Hi LeadDog,

I don't think I have ever posted on egullet. Good to know that S02 flushing is not a respected method of sterilising lines. I can't imagine you ever saying something dumb...and if you did in this forum it would not matter anyway. Best wishes.Graham
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 October 12
[quote=Graham]...snip... I can't imagine you ever saying something dumb...and if you did in this forum it would not matter anyway. Best wishes.Graham[/quote]

Hehe. I'm glad.

Yes, LD, Jack Lang is jackal10 in eG.

TP
JohnD's picture
JohnD 2008 October 12
Cheers dman, i knew that, ur a legend mate, i was carried away with a mission from GOD! lol........

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