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Will Immersion Blender Hurt My Sourdough Starters?


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I have three starters going at once: white, wheat, and rye (all Nancy Silverton's, because they work really well for me).

Problem: It's becoming quite the task to keep up with feeding three at a time, but the only really effort is the stirring flour and water at feeding time.

Quantity: Never really more than 2-3 quarts of each.

Question: Will I hurt the starters by using an immersion blender (on low) to incorporate flour and water at feeding time?

Yes, yes, you can go ahead and laugh at my indolence.

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Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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I'm going to hazard a couple of guesses here:

depending on how long it takes to incorporate everything and how liquid your starters are, you might hurt your immersion blender more than the starters.

with the white, you might be at risk of destroying some of the gluten which may have developed, but since this is a starter, it might not make too much of a difference in your finished product (depending on how much you use in your makeup).

the wheat and rye won't have as much gluten to worry about, so i don't think that's a problem.

the friction/heat that the immersion blender might create (again, time would be a factor) might cause your starters' temperature to rise adversely.

again, these are all guesses.

edited to add: yes, i'm chuckling at your indolence... :raz: but maybe laziness is the actual mother of invention rather than necessity. :wink:

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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Ha ha, indolence is me.

I do make the bread by hand these days, but it's really annoying when you're about to leave home for work and then suddenly realize:

:shock::huh: "Oooooh, no! I've forgotten to feeds the blobs!" :angry::smile:

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Two things.

I don't worry too much about mixing my starter after refreshment. (Pure domestic baking - so I'm not too bothered about day-to-day consistency.) I do keep it at 100% refreshment - equal weights of flour and water, so it makes for a slightly gloopy (initially lumpy) batter (but 100% does greatly ease the mental arithmetic for thinking about hydration of different doughs).

Just like autolyse and stretch-and-fold, I let it do much of the hydration/work for itself.

Also to add to alanamoana's possible effects, incorporating more air/oxygen into the batter (with an immersion blender) might be expected to increase the rate of breeding of the yeast components of the starter, which might change the readiness time or balance (and thus ultimately taste) of your cultures.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I killed her.

Matildé, the white sourdough starter, is on her death bed.

Immersion blender = bad idea.

She looks miserable, like a milkshake, almost no bubbles to speak of, no umph, no oompa, no happiness.

It could be post-traumatic stress, depression, but I think she's done for.

Verdict: immersion blender bad.

-

Ja, rickster, I have too much going at once.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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fooey, there is no reason whatsoever to keep that much starter. All the starter is for is perpetuating the culture. Just keep a small amount of starter (say, 100 grams of each) and use that starter to inoculate larger amounts of poolish when you need to "make more starter" for a batch of sourdough.

It is highly unlikely that using an immersion blender did anything bad to your sourdough starter culture. How are you refreshing the starter? Sourdough starters should be fed by high dilution for the best healthy growth characteristics. This is the opposite of what most home bakers do. What it means is that, if you are keeping 100 grams of sourdough starter, when you feed the starter you should discard all of it except for around 10 grams, and then feed that with 50 grams each of flour and water.

Nancy Silverton, while being a talented commercial baker, is notorious among sourdough aficionados for perpetuating a lot of misinformation about sourdough microbiology, for recommending starter feeding practices that are highly impractical for the home baker and anyway not optimal for culture health, and for recommending that home bakers maintain a far larger volume of culture than is needed or practical.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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fooey, there is no reason whatsoever to keep that much starter.

It's reasonable for me, as I make 10 to 20 loaves some weekends.

It is highly unlikely that using an immersion blender did anything bad to your sourdough starter culture.

You should see it and you'd rethink that. She was "very" not happy this morning. I reduced her to about 1 cup and am rebuilding. I will never use an immersion blender again.

How are you refreshing the starter?  Sourdough starters should be fed by high dilution for the best healthy growth characteristics.  This is the opposite of what most home bakers do. What it means is that, if you are keeping 100 grams of sourdough starter, when you feed the starter you should discard all of it except for around 10 grams, and then feed that with 50 grams each of flour and water.

If I didn't need to volume of starter I do, that would be practical. I need volumes and so I make it as such. The 10s:50f:50w method is interesting. Mine is more 50s:25f:25w. I'll create one as such and see how it comes out.

Nancy Silverton, while being a talented commercial baker, is notorious among sourdough aficionados for perpetuating a lot of misinformation about sourdough microbiology

I've exhausted what energy I have defending Nancy Silverton on this topic, so I'll be brief: Her feeding method is for initial starter creation. The only mistake she made in her text is in failing to say, "Now that your starter is active and strong, this is what you have to do to perpetuate it." Hordes of people, who can't/couldn't read between the lines, make/made what I think is an asinine assumption that one must feed the starter in volume in perpetuity, which is just ridiculous. Yes, she made that error in her text, but that's no reason to extend it to "perpetuating a lot of misinformation about sourdough microbiology".

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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Amen Sam

Leave it be in a warm place. It will recover

Recover yes, but that's thing: the immersion blender damaged it badly. I didn't want to recover it. It was happy snappy when I was using a fork.

The answer to my original question is: An immersion blender will damage your starter.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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...

Recover yes, but that's thing: the immersion blender damaged it badly. I didn't want to recover it. It was happy snappy when I was using a fork.

The answer to my original question is: An immersion blender will damage your starter.

Really, I doubt that -- BUT -- I think I understand your perception of 'damage'.

I think you are working by volume.

This is not the best of ideas, if you are dealing with frothy starter.

Sure, the blender flattened the foam, so you think you've got less.

But actually, you've just got less trapped CO2.

Because a lot of bubbles got burst (and maybe some gluten got chopped).

Its no big deal, at least, not until you want to measure some out.

A better habit is to ALWAYS work by weight. (Its the only hope of accuracy with variably foamy starter.)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Really, I doubt that -- BUT -- I think I understand your perception of 'damage'.

Agreed.

It basically looked like a milkshake.

When I fed her, she didn't even eat (or at least that's my perception).

Usually she starts bubbling away and, in a few hours, is so happy she's making herself drunk with alcohol production. :D

I poured her all out minus 1 cup and rebuilt yesterday and she's back to her happy self.

I don't know what the immersion blender did exactly (a friend said I incorporated too much oxygen and that's bad?), but I didn't like it and won't do it again.

FWIW, the immersion blender did NOT speed up the process.

It took longer, both the mixing and the cleaning.

And I'm an artisan baker, right?

What was I thinking re: using a machine.

Blasphemy!

:blink:

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Immersion blender sounds like a bad idea. It has the potential of completely shredding the gluten. even in the starter, this is bad practice.

It is never necessary to keep 3 starters going daily at home. just build the other starters the night before from the white. that's what i do.

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