This kit comes with a FREE pot of sweet chocolate sourdough starter. It is refreshed using organic cocoa powder and sugar, which encourages osmotolerance from the yeasts - this can be helpful when making sweet sourdough. The starter is refreshed using soft organic 00 flour milled near the Alps in Northern Italy, by famers who care deeply about the soil and the land, and by 3rd generation millers who take extraordinary care to mill this exquisite flour with the same care with which the farmers grow their grain. In November 2017 after a couple of years of using this chocolate starter it was sent to be analysed. Looking at the species below it is clear to see that the complex flavours and ability of this starter to come around beautifully, even when slightly neglected, is down to the range of bacteria originating from the chocolate and cocoa.
What kind of Sourdough can I make using a chocolate Sourdough?
You can make any bread with this starter. This robust starter can be used to leaven any bread whatsoever but we particularly love this starter with the rye formula on page 127, and the chocolate & roast hazelnut recipe on page 145. It is beautifully lactic and makes deliciously sweet sourdough but don’t limit it to the ones we suggest in the book. Cacao works as a beautiful background flavour, but it also brings specific lactic acid bacteria that thrive in warmer temperatures. Cocoa fermentation takes place 10 degrees either side of the Equator because cocoa trees grow well in humid tropical climates with regular rains and a short dry season.
This is one of the reasons that this is a starter we recommend to our students if they live in a warm climate.
Chocolate starter Lactic Acid Bacteria microbial analysis.
Lactobacillus plantarum (43%) is the dominant bacteria and it is a homofermentative LAB that is commonly present in both cocoa bean fermentations and sourdough starters. It can grow at temperatures between 15-45˚C and at pH levels as low as 3.2. These bacteria normally share a symbiotic relationship with F. pseudoficulneus, one of the other heterofermentative bacteria present in the starter culture. Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis
(38%): was first discovered in 1973 in San Francisco and is a heterofermentative LAB that gives sourdough bread a characteristic sour taste. It is commonly present in most sourdough starters and temperatures of 33 °C leads to maximum growth rates.
Lactobacillus fermentum (16%): is a heterofermentative LAB and can be categorized as the ones best adapted to the cocoa pulp ecosystem. Certain strans of L. fermentum are commonly used in probiotic supplements and have shown to be heat resistant and survive low pH. There are also certain strains of L.fermentum in sourdough that have the ability to produce amylase enzymes. These are required for the breakdown of starch into simple sugars, and may also help explain why this starter is a lively one.
Fructose pseudoficulneus (12%): is a facultative heterofermentative LAB that has shown to be a well-adapted bacterial species of cocoa fermentation. It has also been shown to survive high temperatures and pH. They generally prefer to utilise fructose as their primary food source producing a mixture of lactic and acetic acid but can also utilise glucose with lactic acid as the main end product.
Acetobacter pasteurianus (8%): Is an acetic acid producing bacteria and is one of the predominant species of bacteria found in cocoa fermentation. During cocoa fermentations, one of the main roles of A. pasteurianus is to kill the germ of the bean to prevent growth. The bacteria also alter several compounds made by other organisms and effectively alters the taste and flavour of the final product. It’s also fascinating to see that pasteurianus is also used in the fermentation process used to produce the traditional Japanese black rice vinegar kurozu.
* Please note that our sourdough starters are built up, nurtured and posted out in absolute peak condition. This takes time and so they are posted out twice a month, on the 1st and 3rd week. If you choose a starter kit then the whole kit will be sent as one, so please allow up to a 2 week delay plus postage time until your kit arrives. We refresh and pack the starter here at the school to ensure each starter is in optimal condition and at its most active. Your kit will be sent at the same time as the starter.
* We suggest that when you receive your starter it is refreshed immediately. As you might imagine it will have been traveling for a few days and in need of feeding ASAP in accordance with the instructions on the sourdough starter refreshment record card - included in the kit.
* For best results, continue to refresh your starter using the recommended flour. Using a different flour can alter the microbial composition of the starter and may affect its level of activity. Failure to feed the starter with the ingredients we suggest, or at longer intervals than recommended will change the way it behaves. We are happy to discuss any issues but we will need to see the full refreshment schedule to do so.
* We cannot guarantee that the starters contain the exact microbes we have listed above as microbes have a tendency to change over time. We can only share the information - this was the analysis at the time of testing in November 2017.