Reading english, american, australian and other recipes in english, I find it quite confusing what an array of words are used to describe a sourdough.
So I have googled around and found the following explanations (the last two come from this site here!):
barm: A leaven or starter, sometimes implying one made from brewing sediment. (English)
chef: A piece of a previous batch of dough kept over to inoculate a new flour/water mixture, which will then become a leaven, starter, sponge (synonyms).
leaven: That which raises bread by producing carbon dioxide. In this context, it is a batter, sponge, or dough that contains a mixed culture of yeast and bacteria that has been continuously maintained by a a series of inoculations and incubations.
levain: French for leaven.
sponge: A thick batter or thin dough with hydration somewhere above 75% and a little less than 100%.
sponge leaven: A sponge that has been inoculated with a leaven culture, then incubated until it is ripe.
starter: Something that can be used to inoculate a sourdough culture. Essentially the same thing as a leaven.
starter sponge: A ripe leaven of sponge consistency.
starter leaven: Could be used to describe a new sourdough culture, being propagated from an infusion of flour (or fruit) in water.
storage leaven: One that is used to preserve the culture from one baking session to the next. Usually kept in a refrigerator.
SPONGE: In a method where the dough is mixed over several stages, a sponge is a stage where the ingredients are mixed to a batter-like consistency and left to ferment.
STARTER: A batter of flour and water left at room temperature to encourage yeasts naturally present in the flour to grow. Also known as a 'natural leaven' or 'sour' this is the most ancient form of raising bread.
Then I have also read about "white" starters and lots of other confusing starters. My question: Is this just different types of english or have different authors invented new terms? Or how come this array of expressions seems to be never ending?
In Germany where I learned the terms we just have 3 types of starters which correspond to the 3 sourdough stages plus a yeast dough. In addition there are old idioms like biga which came from Italy.
However the english proliferation is astounding.