My only criticisms are that she perpetuates mythology about sourdough microorganisms that are known to be untrue.
I think I'm still missing this: what are the untruths?
I see differences of opinion, but untruths? Mythology?
Untruths and mythology such as, for example, the thought that sourdough microorganisms can come from grapes -- which is known to be untrue. You will not find any sourdough microorganisms on a grape.
I defend against this because I have 5 years and 1000 loaves launched by these mythological untruths.
Lots of people throughout history have been able to do great things based on premises that turned out to be untrue. That doesn't make the premise any less untrue.
I think this an opinion, and opinions are fine, but they're not fact.
I'm not sure what you refer to, but it's a fact that sourdough microorganisms don't come from grapes -- not an opinion. Scientists have been looking for these things for a long time, and have looked at countless grapes (among other things) looking for sourdough microorganisms. None have been found, and people who make their careers studying this sort of thing on a scientific basis do not believe that grapes are or can be a source of sourdough microorganisms.
What grapes will do is provide a ready supply of easily fermentable sugars, along with grape microorganisms to eat those sugars, that will provide an apparent early boost of fermentation activity. But none of the microorganisms providing this initial fermentation is capable of surviving in a continually refreshed sourdough, and they all die off within a few generations.
As for burden to home baker, I don't agree.
It's a burden to me because I'm juggling 3 starters in volume. I make volumes of bread and need volumes.
If you don't think it's burdensome to keep around and continually feed on a daily basis as much as nine quarts
of sourdough starter, then we have a difference of opinion as to what constituted "burdensome." It has been quite common since the publication of her book for people to criticize Silverton's starter feeding schedules and amounts for being too burdensome. This will always be a matter of opinion for the individual baker, of course.
All I can say is that I have in the past maintained as many as three separate sourdough cultures which retained identifiably distinct fermentation characteristics. I maintained these at around one cup total of each culture, and on days when I was not baking with those cultures I kept them in the refrigerator and fed them perhaps twice a month. When I planned to bake with one of the cultures, I would let it come up to temperature, inoculate however much "new starter" I needed to use, feed the storage culture via 1:20 dilution and return it to the refrigerator as soon as it started to show the first signs of life. Because my starters were fed for optimal growth conditions (meaning that it had the maximum number of live and healthy sourdough microorganisms per gram) the "new starter" would come up to full activity in a few hours and I could bake with it. This is my idea of "not burdensome."
There is simply no reason, unless you are baking every single day with all three of your cultures, for you to keep so much starter and for you to feed them several times a day. And if you are not feeding your nine quarts of starters every day and are refrigerating them until the day before baking day, then there is just no reason to keep that much in consideration of the fact that you can build any amount of sourdough from as little as a tablespoon of storage culture in 24 hours.
I appreciate the other comments. Do you have a source link to the study or studies that from which you quote? To me, yesterday's science is as valuable as mythology. Who knows when, where, how this study was conducted? Who's to say that a strain of yeast from San Francisco has anything to say about yeasts in Denver, for example?
We can know these things because, while a Denver strain of Lactobacillus sanfransiscensis
might be a little different from a San Francisco strain of L. sanfransiscensis
, there are generalized things we can say that apply to all strains of L. sanfransiscensis
. We're just not going to find, for example, a strain that is not seriously inhibited at a pH of 4.3 or lower. Now... there are other, less desirable lactobacilli that can survive in a low pH, high-inoculum sourdough, but not L. sanfransiscensis
. L. sanfransiscensis
is the dominant lactobacillus in virtually all of the best sourdough cultures. (See e.g.,
Biodiversity of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis strains isolated from five sourdoughs, M. Kitahara, S. Sakata and Y. Benno, Lett Appl Microbiol. 2005; 40(5):353-357): "strains were L. sanfranciscensis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paralimentarius, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus pontis, Lactobacillus casei, Weisella confusa
and Pediococcus pentosaceus
. A total of 21 strains were identified as L. sanfranciscensis
. . .")
The other thing we can say is that there isn't nearly as wide a variety of yeast as one might think. The most common is familiar old Saccharomyces cerevisiae
, followed by Candida milleri, C. humilis, S. exiguus
and Issatchenkia orientalis
, Occurrence and dominance of yeast species in sourdough, Pulvirenti A, Solieri L, Gullo M, De Vero L, Giudici P., Lett Appl Microbiol. 2004;38(2):113-7.)