Bitter aftertaste

Hi all,
I'm new to the forum (great discussions!) but have been following things for a few months now. I'm currently living in China and due to the terrible 'bread' they sell here I've started making my own. I began with instant yeast but decided that I want to switch to sourdough. My starter is a little slow in getting started and I couldn't wait.

So I made a hybrid: I used about 125ml (100% hydration) starter in my (4 cups of flour) loaf with half a teaspoon yeast. It took a while to get going but ended up turning out quite nice. The only problem is that there is a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Does anyone know where this comes from and how to prevent it?? I've had it happen with a different starter a while ago as well.

My starter was prepared as follows: I started off with a teaspoon of starter to which I added 50 ml water and an equal volume (x2) of flour. I read somewhere that this should make a 100% hydration. After 12 hours I doubled it by adding the same volumes. Out of this mixture I took my 125ml starter for the recipe (after another 12 hours).

Thanks for your advice.

30 comments

I bought these plastic containers with these little packets for keeping food fresh, some sort of thing they use like in vitamin jars? (Silica?) So far no bugs, and the ac helps!
New york gets hot too! Try freezing and don't go for the cheap flour, otherwise hubby is going to get the added grub or two!

Jeremy

The flour wasn't cheap. In fact, it's the most expensive (organic) flour around here.


Maybe chembake is right, get some factory made stuff? You know with formaldahide in it !

Ta!
Jeremy

[quote="Jeremy"]Maybe chembake is right, get some factory made stuff? You know with formaldahide in it !
[/quote]

If I remember correctly grain in the past, perhaps still is, treated with methyl bromide to destroy stored food product pests such as weevils. Organic grain was/is treated with C02 gas.

I'm a little out of touch with the state of the art fumigants. Perhaps someone ~ chem ~ knows what's being used these days for conventional and organic grain.

[quote="TeckPoh"][quote="Danubian"]

Strands like floured cobwebs in the bottom of a flour sack could be a type of stored food pest such as a species of [b]Mill Moth[/b], see [url=http://www.the-piedpiper.co.uk/th7e.htm][b]here[/b][/url].
[/quote]

Eeeewww!! Yes, that's it! Looks like I've to get rid of the rest of the sack. Darn. Hate waste. No wonder I've seen some moths in the house the past few days. Ughhh.[/quote]

TP, esay way to prevent stored food pests is to buy smaller bags or decant the larger ones into air tight containers and keep them closed when not using flour. Or you could bake more often, utilising the whole bag in a shorter time. As Jeremy mentioned, just don't tell anyone....shhhhh.

Not tell anyone? The whole world knows already! Hubby says must be the added protein, no wonder my breads spring so well.

Boris, I was getting a 20% discount off the 25kg bag. But I think I chucked 20% this morning. Duh. Will buy smaller bags in future or get a freezer. BTW, thanks for the bit of education. I was clueless.

Will need some therapy to rid the 'closer look image' (will not elaborate) I had this morning when I took it outdoors to do the clean-up.


Were those dad day rolls ropey?

EEEEEK!

:o

You don't wanna know.


Lord!

I wont tell if you don't!

Did Hubby have one?

[quote="TeckPoh"]Thanks, Danubian, that's fascinating........and a bit scary. The other day, as I was reaching the end of my 25kg bag, I scooped up white floury strands. On closer look, or then again, I'm the queasy kind, not so close look, I think it's loose strands from the sack.[/quote]

Strands like floured cobwebs in the bottom of a flour sack could be a type of stored food pest such as a species of [b]Mill Moth[/b], see [url=http://www.the-piedpiper.co.uk/th7e.htm][b]here[/b][/url].

[quote="TP"]This rope which you were talking about is in the crumb...phew. And, the symptoms are only clearer after Day One. Which means, no one would be the wiser that there's something lurking if the bread's finished quite immediately. Creepy. I hope my kitchen will never be infected. Touch Wood.[/quote]

It's not harmful to humans, but it's very unpleasant.

[quote="Danubian"]

Strands like floured cobwebs in the bottom of a flour sack could be a type of stored food pest such as a species of [b]Mill Moth[/b], see [url=http://www.the-piedpiper.co.uk/th7e.htm][b]here[/b][/url].
[/quote]

Eeeewww!! Yes, that's it! Looks like I've to get rid of the rest of the sack. Darn. Hate waste. No wonder I've seen some moths in the house the past few days. Ughhh.


Thanks, Danubian, that's fascinating........and a bit scary. The other day, as I was reaching the end of my 25kg bag, I scooped up white floury strands. On closer look, or then again, I'm the queasy kind, not so close look, I think it's loose strands from the sack. This rope which you were talking about is in the crumb...phew. And, the symptoms are only clearer after Day One. Which means, no one would be the wiser that there's something lurking if the bread's finished quite immediately. Creepy. I hope my kitchen will never be infected. Touch Wood.


[quote="TeckPoh"]What's rope, Boris? You've got me very interested.[/quote]

TP, its less of a problem these days but in the past it was a considerable problem. Imagine my surprise when realised I was looking at a rope - Bacillus Mesentericus infected - sample. I froze the samples for future reference and since I got into cantact with the bakery manager with a free offer of assistance, but he was less than willing to even talk to me about it. He took the line that since they were using sourdough 'rope' infection was impossible etc. etc...... So I withdrew my offer! However, his bread was a very poor example of sourdough and the TA was very low indeed so any protection was non existent anyway. Unfortunately it was before I had a digital camera so I can't post a photograph and I can't find photographic examples on the net, only books.

Have a look at [url=http://planeguy.mine.nu/bread/treatise/202#ANCHOR7][b]this[/b][/url] for some info on rope.

What's rope, Boris? You've got me very interested.


Jake, did you get to the bottom of the mystery? If so, I'd like to hear about it.

I wouldn't have suggested the metal mixing bowl, I sometimes ferment sourdoughs in metal mixing bowls and I've had no problem.

I'm trying to wrack my brains over "bitter", I've tasted/smelled all sorts of strange flavours and aromas in all sorts of things some have called 'sourdough' in the past, but I'd never have called them "bitter". In fact, once I bought a loaf of bread from a delicatessen from a well known "sourdough" bakery and found it infected with 'rope'. I'd learnt all about rope during my studies but had never seen it in the flesh until this loaf.

Jake,

Looks like a very nice loaf! If you still have the taste I'd also suggest trying a change of water supply, maybe bottled distilled water if available, to try and eliminate your water quality as a cause. If that doesn't do it you can then move onto other ingredients, tools, methods....

Matthew


Here's a picture of the crumb structure.

[img]http://sourdough.com.au/gallery/d/7251-2/IMG_0891.JPG[/img]

Thanks, Jeremy. I'll try that. Just wondering, what's the thinking behind this? What would be the cause of the bitter taste?

My feeding schedule hasn't been very precise - I've been feeding between every 12-24 hours.
Unfortunately it's difficult for me to work with percentages as I can't buy a decent set of scales here. But I'm using about one part of water to 2 parts of flour. So if my flour weighs 110g/cup (which I can't check) and water is 250 g/cup then it'll work out to be [b]about[/b] 88% hydration (2x55g flour / 1x125g water = 88%). I've been adding a wee bit more water to make it a bit more pasty so basically the hydration is between 90-100% I think.
I'm working with about 1 tsp starter to every cup of flour (I'm assuming that's about 110 grams).

Jake[/b]

Jake,
coming along, I suggest try refreshing twice a day, once in the morning and in the evening. Boil your water or use bottled water, what is your feeding schedule and percentages?

Jeremy

Thanks.

Here's a shot of the loaf I ended up baking. Plain white (strong) flour with a bit of bran added to it.

[img]http://www.sourdough.com.au/gallery/d/7249-2/sourdough.jpg[/img]

The aftertaste was still there. Although when the bread had cooled off it was barely noticeable.

Jake

sounds like you are making some progress...

nice ...

...hopefully you can come up with good quality flour soon...

and just to stress a main point with your sourdough endeavors -

...it is of the highest importance that you feed your starter on a strict, consistent schedule for consistent quality leaven...

...there are essentially three standard feeding schedules...

every 8 hrs (3 times a day)
every 12 hrs (2)
every 24 hrs (1)

starter will be in its prime 8-12 hrs after feeding (temperature depending)

long story short - keep your starter on a consistent feeding schedule and use it during its prime for optimum results

take care

Sounds like rancid flour Jake! Welcome, I use stainless steel for mixing no weird effects yet, though I store my starter in a plastic container, who knows what is safe now, the world is polluted!(feeling sad no snow here and it is to hot in NY!)

Jeremy

Thanks for the replies everyone!
I've been refreshing the starters very frequently since my first post - approximately every 12-24 hours. I have the idea that the aftertaste is disappearing, although it's still there. So maybe it has to do with an overmature starter. I'll keep on refreshing frequently for a while.

I use two kinds of plain white, non-organic flour. Here in China that's all I can get. I don't know any of the technical specifications of the flours - I only started learning Chinese 4 months ago. One is an all-purpose flour; the other a strong(er) flour (although the shopowner couldn't tell me how much protein it has.)
Both starters that I've begun have the bitter aftertaste - so I wonder if it is the flour (since I feed them with two different flour types). And I'm using no metal untensils.

As to the water quality, who knows?! Especially in this part of China (west). Anything is possible. It's heavily chlorinated, but I'm using filtered water (a carbon filter I believe).

I've baked two purebred sourdough loaves since the first post. Both have turned out quite nice (for my doing) with only a hint of a bitter aftertaste. So for the moment I'll persevere with my starters. I'll let you guys know how I get on. But thanks for your offer TP - I'll give you a yell if I do want to give it a try after all.

I'm going to bake another loaf!

Bitterness is the result of metallic contaminants and Bill was right that using metallic containers as starter fermentation vessel will likely promote such off taste?.

There should be something that cause the bitterness that is foreign from your starter??I can?t think of any other reason?aside from metallic contaminants?

What about your water quality?.?Is your water heavily laden with minerals ?
Is it high in divalent anions ( sulfates) and high in divalent cations( calcium and magnesium as well as trivalent ion such as iron .....?

The acids in sourdough will create salts with these metallic contaminants that it will influence the taste of your resulting bread?.slight bitter taste?

I have the same experience in the past with well water that was heavily laden with metallic contaminants ?

Jake,

three thoughts,

the bitterness could be a result of the flour that you are using. You don't mention what type of flour you use, but wholemeal flour in particular can become rancid quite quickly.

secondly, at this time of year it is quite easy for starters to overmature. The hot weather leads to them rising and falling quite quickly. IIf you leave them as long as you normally would (in cooler weather), they can have quite a strong (sour) flavour.

Also - I wonder about the effect of the yeast on your starter. Yeast-based sponges can develop odd flavours if they are overproved - as could happen if they were combined with a sourdough starter.
The good news is that the yeast is unlikely to hang around in a sourdough starter - with time the commercial yeast organisms aare likely to be all replaced by the 'naturally occurring' yeasts.

I would suggest that you continue to refresh your starter daily over a week or so. Use some fresh flour if you are unsure about your current batch. Each time take no more than a teaspoon of starter, and add a good quantity of flour and water (eg add 100g flour, and 60g water to a teaspoon of starter, mix and knead it all together, then leave for 12 hours). After 12 hours if it has doubled in volume, put the starter in the fridge overnight. The next morning discard all except a teaspoon of starter and add flour water etc
If the starter hasn't moved after 12 hours - that is OK - just leave it out for another 6-12 hours. At the end of that time discard all except a teaspoon and refresh again.

let us know how you go

cheers
Dom


Hello Jake, welcome to this forum!
Try another sort of flour.
Perhaps you you may start completely new from scratch.
There are several possibilities to get a bitter taste mostly sided by streptos.

Or make a couple of refresh cycles, with different flour and boiled water.
Good success!

Jake, are you still getting the bitter aftertaste? Would you like to try using another starter? I could send some to you. Just PM me your name & address.


I'm using a glass jar as container. And I've got two separate starters which both give the bitter aftertaste. (They've both also been handled the same - as in, they have the same feeding schedules.)

Your starter will get a bitter taste if kept in a metal container, particularly stainless steel, or if your dough is allowed to proof in a metal container.

I think I may have used the term hybrid incorrectly. Maybe I should explain.

I didn't use any yeast to get the starter going. I started off with my sourdough starter, but because it was rather slow in rising I added half a teaspoon of yeast to the dough to speed things up.

And I'm quite sure the bitter taste comes from the starter. The last time (a long time ago) I used a sourdough starter (different one than what I've got now) the bread also got a bit of a bitter aftertaste. I've baked a fair few non-sourdough loaves and none of them have the bitter aftertaste. Could it come from the acids in the starter or something? Due to it not being fresh enough.

I'm thinking maybe it's because the starter was a bit on the old side. As in it had probably past it's peak activity a while ago.

(And I know, I should be doing it on weight. But I haven't got around to finding a suitable set of scales here as yet. Basically I'm mixing flour and water 2:1 on a volume basis)

Thanks for the response.

Welcome, Jake! I see you're also [i]driven[/i] to making bread.

Afraid I won't be able to help, as:

1. Haven't made bread from a starter made from yeast.

2. Haven't tasted any bitterness in breads before. Could this have come from the flour? Does this occur every time you make bread?

[quote]
My starter was prepared as follows: I started off with a teaspoon of starter to which I added 50 ml water and an [color=darkred]equal volume (x2) of flour[/color]. I read somewhere that this should make a 100% hydration. After 12 hours I doubled it by adding the same volumes. Out of this mixture I took my 125ml starter for the recipe (after another 12 hours).
[/quote]

I don't get this part about equal volume and the 'x2' that went with it. I would suggest instead of going by volume, to measure by weight. That way you're sure to get your maths right.