When is a sourdough not a sourdough?

I've been sourdough baking for a few weeks now and have already gotten a bit experimental.  I divided my starter into two jars and to one I added some of my homebrewed ginger beer.  This ginger beer is made from a 'plant' of wild yeast and bacteria sourced from the air, ground & fresh ginger, sugar, sultanas and lemon pulp that I have fed it with at various stages of its life.  (Before I get jumped on by any GBP purists out there, no this is not a 'true' Ginger Beer Plant.) I figured that adding a few extra microbe strains to my starter couldn't hurt.

 The resulting culture was noticeably more 'healthy' than the 'plain' starter that had only been fed white and wholewheat flour, in that it rose much faster both in the jar and in a loaf.  The bread was good - much loftier than my other sourdoughs so far, but the texture and flavour weren't quite as interesting as the bread made from the unadulterated starter.

 SO, my question is, by adding yeasts from a non-cereal culture, have I actually created a sort of hybryd beast or 'sponge' that is not strictly a sourdough?  I'm not trying to be puritanical: ultimately whatever works is good.  But this did get me thinking about what 'defines' a sourdough starter.  Is it a flour-based culture populated with any any yeasts and bacteria, so long as they are wild and not bought in a packet at a shop?  Or is there something more specific about where these fermenting critters a supposed to come from, or where they would 'naturally' be found?

8 comments

But not in my starter...just with bread.   However much evidence supports yeast development is enhanced by ginger.  However other spices such as Cinnamon - not so.  From Shirley Corriher's "Cookwise":

"The old German bakers' tale about a pinch of ginger was true-- certain spices do enhance yeast's activity. Small amounts of ginger, ground caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and thyme all improve yeast activity. Dry mustard, like salt, strongly inhibits yeast growth."

Then she goes on to say that a few spices, specifically cinnamon and cloves, improve yeast activity at low levels (for cinnamon, 5 to 10 percent of the weight of the yeast) but at higher levels (equal the weight of the yeast), it "dramatically reduces" yeast activity.

According to the chart in the book, ginger (and I am assuming they are referring to powdered ginger) is not inhibitive, even at equal the weight of the yeast.  This was found on egullet - there is a lot more discussed there:
 

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/46323-ginger-in-yeast-breads/

I was "winging it" one day and found a half bottle of flat gingerbeer that had not been drank from.  Threw about 115g in a loaf of bread, and since I had some finely chopped walnuts on my bread board tossed them in too.  It was interesting the effect in a mostly white loaf.  The nuts turned lavendar/Blue and the dough around almost appeared as blue cheese veins.  The bread itself was not strongly flavored by the ginger but was quite good and you could tell my starter liked the ginger beer.  There is definitely a chemical reaction as well.

My ginger experiments continue...

 

Terri

 

You really are what you eat, so eat wisely...

[quote=Millciti]

... and since I had some finely chopped walnuts on my bread board tossed them in too.  It was interesting the effect in a mostly white loaf.  The nuts turned lavendar/Blue and the dough around almost appeared as blue cheese veins.  The bread itself was not strongly flavored by the ginger but was quite good and you could tell my starter liked the ginger beer.  There is definitely a chemical reaction as well.

[/quote]

Peter Reinhart in BBA on page 335 says the oil from the walnuts turns the dough a burgundy color.  I have noticed this in my breads that contain walnuts too.  I like the idea of adding some ginger to the bread, must be time for another experiment.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

So much for all that...

 

I just made a second loaf using the 'ginger beer enhanced' starter, and it was some of the best bread I've ever had! :-)

I have used Dark Beer in one of my recent breads.

And, just like you say, I got one of my best breads ever...

So, is it the beer, the malt or the Ginger?

I guess that the best tasting bread is what we are looking for and any of

the above is "just right!"

 I just went and bought some powdered ginger.  I think this will give a new meaning to the name ginger bread.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Just to be clear, I should mention that I'm no longer putting ginger beer in the culture or the bread.  I'm just feeding it the regular flour and water.  But the extra flora that the ginger beer added has obviously become a strong part of the culture, as it is much more vigorous than its purer cousin.

I should also mention that I did add a small amount of ground ginger (no more than 1/2 tsp) to the bread mixture, which the ginger beer microbes probably recognised as an old friend.

Interesting Discussion.  I'll stay tuned to read everyone's results. 

 

Merry Christmas Everyone.

But I just created (not invented) another kind of starter: I put about 350 ml of water in a glass jar and added the peels of a couple of apples and a hawaian papaya....let it at room temp..after 12 hours started to appear a few bubbles, after 48 hours, the yeast liquid was smelling alcohol quite strong...so filtered and added about 200 gr of plain to make a preferment....today I added another 300 gr of flour and within 12 hours, something should happen...well actually it is supposed to be rising! I'll see and let you know..cheers from Quito.Paolo