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immagine lievito acido

QUICK FIXES FOR ACIDIC SOURDOUGH STARTER

Having a healthy and well-balanced Sourdough is essential for succeeding in your recipes.

However, it’s not always easy to check when the Sourdough is correctly acidic. Two acidities, Lactic and acetic, are essential for the correct starter balance.

Let’s see how to read the Sourdough’s primary signals and eventually try to fix them quickly.

SOURDOUGH’S ACIDITY 

Sourdough is a unique environment made of lactic bacteria and yeasts; these organisms live in symbiosis and need each other.

This balance determines Sourdough’s acidity.

Lactic bacteria produce Lactic Acid. In contrast, yeasts produce acetic acid due to their metabolism, which contributes to determining acetic acidity.

The ratio between the number of lactic bacteria and yeasts must also be balanced.

Theoretically, it seems logical and immediate, but how can we handle this at home?

Although this may seem quite complicated, in reality, the best way to manage it is to:

  • Check the status of your Sourdough acidity during every refreshment: is it too acidic or weak?
  • Distinguish the cause of the excessive acidity: Does it come from an excessive lactic or acetic acidity?
  • Appropriately feed the Sourdough to restore a balanced acidity.

Let’s see how to do it!

HOW TO REBALANCE THE OVER-ACIDITY IN SOURDOUGH

An over acidic Sourdough has specific characteristics:

  • A Sticky or excessively stiff consistency
  • Sour taste (you will feel it in the back of the tongue) or strongly metallic flavor
  • The starter remains at the bottom of the bowl after the bath at 38°C (100°F) in slightly sweetened water.

If you recognize these characteristics, your Sourdough is too acidic. Now, let’s see how to distinguish its nature.

EXCESSIVE LACTIC ACIDITY

The most visible symptom of excessive lactic acidity is:

  • Sticky consistency: Excessive acidity deteriorates the gluten and tends to make the dough sticky
  • Bitter taste (you will feel it in the back of the tongue)

Using Sourdough with excess lactic acidity will cause many problems during the kneading process, especially when you add fats. Therefore I suggest you pay particular attention to this aspect.

To fix this problem, it will be necessary to promote the development of yeasts and, at the same time, to keep control of the proliferation of lactic acid bacteria.

First, soak the Sourdough in 38°C (100°F) water, add 4gr/l of sugar or fructose, and leave it for 20 minutes.

Once ready, squeeze the starter and feed it with a starter-to-flour ratio of 1:1.2 (1kg yeast to 1.2kg flour), using fresh water at 22°C (71°F) to 24°C (75°F) in the following proportion:

  • Hydrate at 30% the amount of flour that is equal to the yeast
  • Hydrate at 50% the flour that exceeds the amount of yeast

For example, If we have 1kg of Sourdough refreshed with a 1:1.2 ratio, I will use 1.2kg of flour.

To get the correct amount of water, I will need to:

Hydrate at 30% the quantity of flour that “covers” the weight of the starter (1kg x 30%): 300gr of water

Hydrate at 50% the amount of flour that exceeds the weight of the starter (1.2gr -1kg of yeast = 200gr x 50%): 100gr of water

The total quantity of water for refreshment will be 300gr + 100gr = 400gr.

After weighing all the ingredients, knead the starter, the flour, and the water. It is essential at this stage not to over-knead the dough.

When the dough is ready, roll it out, form a loaf, and finally soak it in cold tap water (about 19°C, 66°F) and leave it at room temperature (20°C, 68°F) for 24 hours.

Suppose the room temperature exceeds 20°C – 22°C (68°F – 71°F). In that case, I recommend waiting for the Sourdough to rise to the surface and then placing it in the fridge at +4°C (39°F) for the remaining time.

Essentially, the factors that allow the starter to develop yeasts better than lactic bacteria are:

  • The lower temperature of the water (21-24°C, 69°F -75°F)
  • The lower hydration of the dough (30% of water)
  • A direct mix of the ingredients (we knead all the ingredients at the same time)
  • A Shorter kneading process

EXCESSIVE ACETIC ACIDITY

In contrast to lactic acidity, a starter that has developed too many yeasts will have the following features:

  • A quite stiff consistency
  • Few gas bubbles (alveoli)
  • Spicy taste at the tip of the tongue
  • Emphasize the sour scent to the nose, close to the vinegar

Very often, when a starter has these characteristics, it’s called (in Italy) “too strong.” However, even in this case, we must rebalance the two acidities and allow the Sourdough to develop a higher concentration of lactic bacteria.

Soak the starter in the water at 38°C (100°F) with 2 grams/liter of sugar or fructose. Leave it up to 15 minutes. Afterward, squeeze out the starter and feed it using 35% water over the yeast’s weight (350g of water for 1kg of starter). Contrary to the previous case, using the correct water temperature to obtain a dough at 28°C (82°F) will be essential.

For this, you can use this “empirical” formula that I learned from the chef Giambattista Montanari:

Water Temp = 4 x final Temp – Flour Temp – Room Temp – Kneading heating (for a stand mixer, use 14°C, 8°C for a twin arm mixer, and 18°C for a spiral mixer) – Yeast Temp

!!! This formula only works with °C. You can apply the formula with °C and convert the result to °F !!!

In the realistic case with a room temperature of 20°C (68°F), a flour temperature of 19°C (66°F), the starter at 18°C (64°F), and using a stand mixer, I can get the final dough at 28°C (82°F), using the water at this temperature:

Temp Water = (4×28) -20 -19 -14-18 = 41°C (105°F)

Contrary to the previous case, after the bath, dissolve the starter into the water using a stand mixer. Then, add the flour, keeping the starter-to-flour ratio of 1:1.2.

Knead the dough a bit longer until it is homogenous and smooth.

 Once again, the main factors that promote the development of lactic bacteria are:

  • A Higher water temperature to obtain a dough at 28°C (82°F)
  • Higher hydration of the dough (35% of water over the starter’s weight)
  • Dissolve the starter into the lukewarm water
  • A longer kneading process

STRENGTHEN A WEAK SOURDOUGH

The opposite case of acidic Sourdough is when the starter is weak, i.e., with a low proliferation of yeast and bacteria flora.

You can recognize when the starter is too weak by these factors:

  • During the bath, it will come to the surface immediately (within 7 – 8 minutes)
  • The scent of flour, without any sour note
  • Few gas bubbles (alveoli) in the dough

To reinforce the starter, do a cycle of 3 refreshments, each one of them with 3 hours of fermentation, and use a starter-to-flour ratio as explained below:

  • Refreshment 1: Mix 1kg of starter with 800gr of flour and 240g of water at 30°C (86°F). Soak it in the water at 26°C (78°F) and ferment for 3 hours at 30°C (86°F)
  • Refreshment 2: As above, use a starter-to-flour ratio of 1:0.9 (1kg of starter, 900g of flour, and 270g of water at 30°C, 86°F).
  • Refreshment 3: Once the dough is ready, soak it in cold water at 19°C (66°F) and let it ferment for 24 hours at room temperature.

CONCLUSION

To succeed in homemade bread or an excellent panettone, it is crucial to have a sourdough with balanced acidity and fix any excess before starting the recipe.

The best way to do this is to check the sourdough’s daily status and feed it correctly until it returns to the correct acidity.

Share

48 comments about “S.O.S Lievito”

  1. Salve, il mio lievito era acido e appiccicoso, ho seguito i passi consigliati fino all’arrotolamento del lievito e metterlo in acqua per 24 ore. Passato questo tempo cosa faccio? Grazie mille
    Laura

  2. Ciao, ho trovato tutti i tuoi articoli molto interessanti e chiari, complimenti.
    Ho iniziato da poco a fare crescere un lievito madre solido .. ha raggiunto 31 giorni una settimana fa quindi è ancora moooooolto giovane.
    Ti scrivo per chiederti alcuni consigli perché vorrei migliorare i suoi profumi e i suoi aspetti organolettici al meglio.

    Lo curo ogni 2 giorni .. fino ad ora gli ho fatto un bagnetto + rinfresco standard .. ha un odore acetico molto pungente .. è leggermente appiccicoso una volta tolto lo strato ossidato .. durante il primo bagnetto è venuto a galla praticamente subito …
    Una volta steso e “arrotolato” lo metto in una ciotola coperto da un canovaccio .. lo tengo circa 3 ore a T.A. e poi lo metto in frigo circa per 48 ore ..

    Come potrei procedere secondo la tua esperienza ? ti ringrazio anticipatamenti.

    Saluti

    1. Ciao Andrea,
      sono molto contento che Biancolievito ti piaccia!
      Se posso darti un consiglio, evita di tenere il lievito in frigo durante il periodo di accrescimento. Durante questo periodo hai bisogno di stimolare la proliferazione dei lievite e non di rallentarla.
      Inoltre il lievito si sta acidificando, perché non puoi lasciarlo “libero” (quindi non legato o senza acqua) per 2giorni di fila. Se ti interessa sapere come conservare il Lievito Madre in Acqua, dai un’occhiata a questa pagina.
      Come ultimo consiglio, il bagnetto va fatto SOLO quando il lievito è maturo.

      A presto!

    1. luciano bruzzone

      Buongiorno. Grazie per il consiglio. Ieri ho rinfrescato il lievito madre, dopo aver fatto il bagnetto e messo in acqua fredda. ieri ho rinfrescato il lievito.(premetto che io non rinfresco un chilo di lievito e altrettanta farina, la mia dose è due etti di lievito e due etti di farina e 30% di acqua.) Lo lasciato a temperatura ambiente. questa mattina lo prendo per fare il bagnetto e risulta molto molto appiccicoso. domanda come può essere ? attendo risposta e consiglio grazie..

    2. Ciao Luciano,
      il lievito è troppo bagnato o l’impasto è appiccicoso?

      Se è troppo bagnato, forse hai rinfrescato troppo poco lievito e magari lo hai messo in troppa acqua (in genere la proporzione tra il peso del lievito e l’acqua che lo deve contenere è di 1:3 (1kg di lievito a bagno in 3litri di acqua).

      Se invece l’impasto risulta appiccicoso, allora significa che il lievito è troppo acido. In questo caso ti consiglio di dare un’occhiata a questo articolo dove ti spiego come distinguere le acidità del lievito (lattica o acetica) e come correggerle:

      A presto

    3. Palmiro Russo

      Salve… ho sempre usato lievito in acqua, anche quando faccio i tre rinfreschi per l’impasto serale.
      ho paura che acquista troppo acidità acetica, volevo sapere se possibile, i tre rinfreschi posso metterli in contenitore senza acqua in camera a 38°…. la ringrazio anticipatamente.

    4. Buongiorno Palmiro,
      puoi farlo senza problema ed avrai un lievito con più acidità lattica e ti permetterà (se ben bilanciato) di prolungare il tempo di conservazione del prodotto e marcarne il sapore. Usa però 30°C come temperatura della camera; 38 è troppo e tenderebbe ad aumentare molto l’acidità lattaica.

      A presto!

Lascia un commento

Your email address will not be published. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *

immagine lievito acido

QUICK FIXES FOR ACIDIC SOURDOUGH STARTER

Having a healthy and well-balanced Sourdough is essential for succeeding in your recipes.

However, it’s not always easy to check when the Sourdough is correctly acidic. Two acidities, Lactic and acetic, are essential for the correct starter balance.

Let’s see how to read the Sourdough’s primary signals and eventually try to fix them quickly.

SOURDOUGH’S ACIDITY 

Sourdough is a unique environment made of lactic bacteria and yeasts; these organisms live in symbiosis and need each other.

This balance determines Sourdough’s acidity.

Lactic bacteria produce Lactic Acid. In contrast, yeasts produce acetic acid due to their metabolism, which contributes to determining acetic acidity.

The ratio between the number of lactic bacteria and yeasts must also be balanced.

Theoretically, it seems logical and immediate, but how can we handle this at home?

Although this may seem quite complicated, in reality, the best way to manage it is to:

  • Check the status of your Sourdough acidity during every refreshment: is it too acidic or weak?
  • Distinguish the cause of the excessive acidity: Does it come from an excessive lactic or acetic acidity?
  • Appropriately feed the Sourdough to restore a balanced acidity.

Let’s see how to do it!

HOW TO REBALANCE THE OVER-ACIDITY IN SOURDOUGH

An over acidic Sourdough has specific characteristics:

  • A Sticky or excessively stiff consistency
  • Sour taste (you will feel it in the back of the tongue) or strongly metallic flavor
  • The starter remains at the bottom of the bowl after the bath at 38°C (100°F) in slightly sweetened water.

If you recognize these characteristics, your Sourdough is too acidic. Now, let’s see how to distinguish its nature.

EXCESSIVE LACTIC ACIDITY

The most visible symptom of excessive lactic acidity is:

  • Sticky consistency: Excessive acidity deteriorates the gluten and tends to make the dough sticky
  • Bitter taste (you will feel it in the back of the tongue)

Using Sourdough with excess lactic acidity will cause many problems during the kneading process, especially when you add fats. Therefore I suggest you pay particular attention to this aspect.

To fix this problem, it will be necessary to promote the development of yeasts and, at the same time, to keep control of the proliferation of lactic acid bacteria.

First, soak the Sourdough in 38°C (100°F) water, add 4gr/l of sugar or fructose, and leave it for 20 minutes.

Once ready, squeeze the starter and feed it with a starter-to-flour ratio of 1:1.2 (1kg yeast to 1.2kg flour), using fresh water at 22°C (71°F) to 24°C (75°F) in the following proportion:

  • Hydrate at 30% the amount of flour that is equal to the yeast
  • Hydrate at 50% the flour that exceeds the amount of yeast

For example, If we have 1kg of Sourdough refreshed with a 1:1.2 ratio, I will use 1.2kg of flour.

To get the correct amount of water, I will need to:

Hydrate at 30% the quantity of flour that “covers” the weight of the starter (1kg x 30%): 300gr of water

Hydrate at 50% the amount of flour that exceeds the weight of the starter (1.2gr -1kg of yeast = 200gr x 50%): 100gr of water

The total quantity of water for refreshment will be 300gr + 100gr = 400gr.

After weighing all the ingredients, knead the starter, the flour, and the water. It is essential at this stage not to over-knead the dough.

When the dough is ready, roll it out, form a loaf, and finally soak it in cold tap water (about 19°C, 66°F) and leave it at room temperature (20°C, 68°F) for 24 hours.

Suppose the room temperature exceeds 20°C – 22°C (68°F – 71°F). In that case, I recommend waiting for the Sourdough to rise to the surface and then placing it in the fridge at +4°C (39°F) for the remaining time.

Essentially, the factors that allow the starter to develop yeasts better than lactic bacteria are:

  • The lower temperature of the water (21-24°C, 69°F -75°F)
  • The lower hydration of the dough (30% of water)
  • A direct mix of the ingredients (we knead all the ingredients at the same time)
  • A Shorter kneading process

EXCESSIVE ACETIC ACIDITY

In contrast to lactic acidity, a starter that has developed too many yeasts will have the following features:

  • A quite stiff consistency
  • Few gas bubbles (alveoli)
  • Spicy taste at the tip of the tongue
  • Emphasize the sour scent to the nose, close to the vinegar

Very often, when a starter has these characteristics, it’s called (in Italy) “too strong.” However, even in this case, we must rebalance the two acidities and allow the Sourdough to develop a higher concentration of lactic bacteria.

Soak the starter in the water at 38°C (100°F) with 2 grams/liter of sugar or fructose. Leave it up to 15 minutes. Afterward, squeeze out the starter and feed it using 35% water over the yeast’s weight (350g of water for 1kg of starter). Contrary to the previous case, using the correct water temperature to obtain a dough at 28°C (82°F) will be essential.

For this, you can use this “empirical” formula that I learned from the chef Giambattista Montanari:

Water Temp = 4 x final Temp – Flour Temp – Room Temp – Kneading heating (for a stand mixer, use 14°C, 8°C for a twin arm mixer, and 18°C for a spiral mixer) – Yeast Temp

!!! This formula only works with °C. You can apply the formula with °C and convert the result to °F !!!

In the realistic case with a room temperature of 20°C (68°F), a flour temperature of 19°C (66°F), the starter at 18°C (64°F), and using a stand mixer, I can get the final dough at 28°C (82°F), using the water at this temperature:

Temp Water = (4×28) -20 -19 -14-18 = 41°C (105°F)

Contrary to the previous case, after the bath, dissolve the starter into the water using a stand mixer. Then, add the flour, keeping the starter-to-flour ratio of 1:1.2.

Knead the dough a bit longer until it is homogenous and smooth.

 Once again, the main factors that promote the development of lactic bacteria are:

  • A Higher water temperature to obtain a dough at 28°C (82°F)
  • Higher hydration of the dough (35% of water over the starter’s weight)
  • Dissolve the starter into the lukewarm water
  • A longer kneading process

STRENGTHEN A WEAK SOURDOUGH

The opposite case of acidic Sourdough is when the starter is weak, i.e., with a low proliferation of yeast and bacteria flora.

You can recognize when the starter is too weak by these factors:

  • During the bath, it will come to the surface immediately (within 7 – 8 minutes)
  • The scent of flour, without any sour note
  • Few gas bubbles (alveoli) in the dough

To reinforce the starter, do a cycle of 3 refreshments, each one of them with 3 hours of fermentation, and use a starter-to-flour ratio as explained below:

  • Refreshment 1: Mix 1kg of starter with 800gr of flour and 240g of water at 30°C (86°F). Soak it in the water at 26°C (78°F) and ferment for 3 hours at 30°C (86°F)
  • Refreshment 2: As above, use a starter-to-flour ratio of 1:0.9 (1kg of starter, 900g of flour, and 270g of water at 30°C, 86°F).
  • Refreshment 3: Once the dough is ready, soak it in cold water at 19°C (66°F) and let it ferment for 24 hours at room temperature.

CONCLUSION

To succeed in homemade bread or an excellent panettone, it is crucial to have a sourdough with balanced acidity and fix any excess before starting the recipe.

The best way to do this is to check the sourdough’s daily status and feed it correctly until it returns to the correct acidity.

Share

48 comments about “S.O.S Lievito”

  1. Salve, il mio lievito era acido e appiccicoso, ho seguito i passi consigliati fino all’arrotolamento del lievito e metterlo in acqua per 24 ore. Passato questo tempo cosa faccio? Grazie mille
    Laura

  2. Ciao, ho trovato tutti i tuoi articoli molto interessanti e chiari, complimenti.
    Ho iniziato da poco a fare crescere un lievito madre solido .. ha raggiunto 31 giorni una settimana fa quindi è ancora moooooolto giovane.
    Ti scrivo per chiederti alcuni consigli perché vorrei migliorare i suoi profumi e i suoi aspetti organolettici al meglio.

    Lo curo ogni 2 giorni .. fino ad ora gli ho fatto un bagnetto + rinfresco standard .. ha un odore acetico molto pungente .. è leggermente appiccicoso una volta tolto lo strato ossidato .. durante il primo bagnetto è venuto a galla praticamente subito …
    Una volta steso e “arrotolato” lo metto in una ciotola coperto da un canovaccio .. lo tengo circa 3 ore a T.A. e poi lo metto in frigo circa per 48 ore ..

    Come potrei procedere secondo la tua esperienza ? ti ringrazio anticipatamenti.

    Saluti

    1. Ciao Andrea,
      sono molto contento che Biancolievito ti piaccia!
      Se posso darti un consiglio, evita di tenere il lievito in frigo durante il periodo di accrescimento. Durante questo periodo hai bisogno di stimolare la proliferazione dei lievite e non di rallentarla.
      Inoltre il lievito si sta acidificando, perché non puoi lasciarlo “libero” (quindi non legato o senza acqua) per 2giorni di fila. Se ti interessa sapere come conservare il Lievito Madre in Acqua, dai un’occhiata a questa pagina.
      Come ultimo consiglio, il bagnetto va fatto SOLO quando il lievito è maturo.

      A presto!

    1. luciano bruzzone

      Buongiorno. Grazie per il consiglio. Ieri ho rinfrescato il lievito madre, dopo aver fatto il bagnetto e messo in acqua fredda. ieri ho rinfrescato il lievito.(premetto che io non rinfresco un chilo di lievito e altrettanta farina, la mia dose è due etti di lievito e due etti di farina e 30% di acqua.) Lo lasciato a temperatura ambiente. questa mattina lo prendo per fare il bagnetto e risulta molto molto appiccicoso. domanda come può essere ? attendo risposta e consiglio grazie..

    2. Ciao Luciano,
      il lievito è troppo bagnato o l’impasto è appiccicoso?

      Se è troppo bagnato, forse hai rinfrescato troppo poco lievito e magari lo hai messo in troppa acqua (in genere la proporzione tra il peso del lievito e l’acqua che lo deve contenere è di 1:3 (1kg di lievito a bagno in 3litri di acqua).

      Se invece l’impasto risulta appiccicoso, allora significa che il lievito è troppo acido. In questo caso ti consiglio di dare un’occhiata a questo articolo dove ti spiego come distinguere le acidità del lievito (lattica o acetica) e come correggerle:

      A presto

    3. Palmiro Russo

      Salve… ho sempre usato lievito in acqua, anche quando faccio i tre rinfreschi per l’impasto serale.
      ho paura che acquista troppo acidità acetica, volevo sapere se possibile, i tre rinfreschi posso metterli in contenitore senza acqua in camera a 38°…. la ringrazio anticipatamente.

    4. Buongiorno Palmiro,
      puoi farlo senza problema ed avrai un lievito con più acidità lattica e ti permetterà (se ben bilanciato) di prolungare il tempo di conservazione del prodotto e marcarne il sapore. Usa però 30°C come temperatura della camera; 38 è troppo e tenderebbe ad aumentare molto l’acidità lattaica.

      A presto!

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