Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Natural Yeast Starter - Apple




Wife has been on a baking spree lately baking different types of artisan bread almost every day. The spree started when she discovered this method of making no-knead bread using natural yeast starters.

Breads made using natural starters are richer in taste and flavour. Due to over 30 kinds of organic compounds being produced during the fermentation process, the dough is unique and complex in both the flavour and taste. They remain fresh and soft for a longer period of time too as the organic compounds prevent the starch from retrograding and retain moisture in the bread.

There are other health benefits too. In natural starter breads, bacteria action in the natural starter helps to activate phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid, therefore allowing the nutrients to be absorbed into our bodies. The long fermentation process also allows functional compounds to be produced by beneficial microorganisms. The digestible sizes of the gluten structure also makes digestion easier.


Making natural starter is quite easy. All you need is a feed, which can be wheat flour, cereal, raisins, fruits or vegetables etc,  and water. Different ingredients create different starters which, in turn, produce breads of different texture and taste. Experiment and choose your ingredients accordingly. That is one of the reasons this is so exciting.

Generally, it takes about 3-7 days to make a liquid starter. As such, plan your baking and prepare the starter at least a week ahead. 


For our first natural liquid starter at home, we used apples as we had them readily in the fridge. Apples make very powerful starters and the presence of citric and malic acid in them inhibit bacteria growth.

Apple Liquid Starter
(Adapted from Jayeon Bread by Sangjin Ko)

Ingredients

100g apple
250 ml water
1-2 tsp honey or organic sugar

Method

Wash a 500-ml jar with soap and rinse with clean water several times, ensuring that no traces of soap remain as soap will disrupt the fermentation process. (Do not use a used sponge when washing the jar because sponges contain a lot of bacteria.)

Place jar in a pot and fill the pot with water. Bring the water to a boil for at least 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave for 5 minutes.

Remove and drain the jar, Place it on a clean wire rack and leave to cool.

Cut the apple into 1-cm dice.

Put the diced apple in the sterilised jar. Add the water.

Add the honey or sugar.

Stir and cover the jar loosely. (Do not put the lid on tightly or it may explode due to the production os carbon dioxide gas during fermentation.)

Stir the contents carefully about once a day, but do not stir again after fermentation starts or the starter may become sour due to the growth of harmful bacteria.

Let it ferment for 4-6 days at room temperature (25-27C / 77-80F) and check the starter every day. Place the jar in an ice box or styrofoam box so that the temperature will not fluctuate too much.

Your apple liquid starter is ready when the dices apple floats to the surface and there are many bubbles. Strain the liquid with a clean sieve. It is now ready for making your natural starter. Discard the liquid starter if it is too sour or has a bad smell.

If not making a natural starter immediately, the liquid starter can be stored refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. You can make another batch of liquid starter by adding some of the liquid starter (in the proportion 1:100) to the new mixture. This will shorten the fermentation period.

Refreshed Starter

STEP 1
Measure out 100ml of the sieved liquid starter. In a clean, sterilised jar or bowl, combine the liquid starter and 100g organic bread flour. Mix until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap.

Leave to ferment at room temperature (25-27C / 77-80F) for 18-24 hours or until the starter is doubled and bubbly.

STEP 2
Discard half the mixture, leaving 100g of the starter. Add 100ml water and mix until the starter is dissolved. Add 100g organic bread flour and mix to combine.

Cover and leave to ferment at room temperature (25-27C / 77-80F) for about 12 hours or until the starter is doubled and bubbly.

STEP 3
You can use half of the starter now for making bread or discard it.

To maintain the remaining 100g starter, add 100ml water, 100g organic bread flour and 2g salt (optional) and mix to combine.

Cover and leave to ferment at room temperature (25-27C / 77-80F) for about 12 hours or until the starter is doubled and bubbly. Repeat to use/discard half the starter and feed it every 12 hours.

If you are not planning to bake often, keep the starter refrigerated and feed it once a week. To activate a starter that has been refrigerated (and use it for baking), feed it as above and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours until it is doubled in size and bubbly. Do note that if the starter is refrigerated for longer without refreshing or refreshed more than five times, the flavour will change and it will become more sour.






15 comments:

  1. Alvin. this is very interesting! I think your achi Sonia did something like this once before. I am very eager to try and this is just like a science experiment!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Phong Hong, very interesting indeed! Definitely your kind of experiment! :D

      Delete
  2. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing this technique. I would like to clarify a step in making the liquid starter, when you said:
    " Stir the contents carefully about once a day, but do not stir again after fermentation starts or the starter may become sour due to the growth of harmful bacteria."

    Do you determine the start of the fermentation process as the first sight of bubbles, or is there a fixed duration to it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the sight of bubbles is the sign of fermentation!

      Delete
  3. Hi, thanks for sharing. Just a few questions to clarify, please.
    - For the 250ml water, does it have to be boiled, distilled, or simply water from the tap?
    - Do we need to sterilise every other utensil, ie. stirrer, measuring cup, sieve, knife, spoon etc that comes in contact with the starter liquid?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stef!
      1. I used boiled water which is cooled to room temperature.
      2. Yes, I do.

      Delete
  4. Hihi!
    Thanks for sharing on the natural starter. Kindly enlightened me on the following , when u mentioned : -
    STEP 2
    Discard half the mixture, leaving 100g of the starter. Add 100ml water and mix until the starter is dissolved. Add 100g organic bread flour and mix to combine.
    Question : Why half of the mixture have to be discard? why can't we use them or keep them in the fridge for not usage?
    Thanks!
    Regards
    Ros

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ros! If you notice in Step 1, I mentioned that the yeast started would double its size. By discarding half the mixture, you get back the same amount to continue with the fermentation process. You can also choose to keep everything if you bake a lot. But if you do so, remember to add the equivalent amount of water and flour accordingly.

      Delete
  5. Thank you so much for sharing, Alvin this natural starter. Can you please let me know [or if there is a recipe for the bread using this starter, where can I locate it?] how to use this to make the bread? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Normally the fruit yeast water were used to refreshed starter , is it possible to replace the water with yeast water for a recipe that used slow fermentation or overnight bulk?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Buna seara! Vreau sa va intreb de ce trebuie pus zahar sau miere in apa de mere daca fermenteaza si fara aceste ingrediente?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, my name is Mihaela. Hearing I did not write earlier in English. I have some questions for you. I read many starter recipes and it seems to me the best.I made an apple water but it started to smell because I did not know exactly when to stop it.I made a bread with him and the core preserved the smell. In the read recipe you have to leave 7 days, my stay was 5.Temerature whas 24,25 Celsius.I do not know when to use it. Can you call me this?I did not put sugar or honey.Can you tell me if you really need to?Thank you for the information. I have not done yet sourdough.I'll do another yeast starter according to the clarifications you will give me.Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm curious about sterilizing everything but you don't mention washing the apple... or sterilizing the cutting board...I'm sure the apples have been continuously contaminated all the way to the point of cutting it up and adding to the sterilized jar. I'm just wondering why go to the effort of sterilizing the jar then adding fruit that's contaminated with a zillion things? I'm not trying to be contrary, just curious about the logic and science...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi...this article is really helpful.
    However I have a couple of questions that you might be able to help out here :)
    1)
    Singapore weather is super hot ...on the average betwee 32-39 degrees celcius...and our humidity level is super high...can we put the jar after we stir everything into our fridge? Usually our fridge is below 20degrees celcius

    2)
    In the article above, it mentioned that we should stop stirring when fermentation starts. How do we know if fermentation has started?

    Thanks alot!

    ReplyDelete

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