Your discarded sourdough bread starter could help science

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Delicious bread is not always easy.

Debbie Wolfe

It seems everyone is try your hand at cooking during the coronavirus lockdown – with stress-baking bread prove particularly popular. While bake the perfect bread may sound simple enough, it can take a fair amount of trial and error just to create a worthwhile one Sourdough bread starter.

But would-be bakers who are frustrated with their bread starters turning into science fiction nightmares can still feel like heroes by donating their work to science.

Researchers at The Public Science Lab at North Carolina State University want to better understand the microbes formed in sourdough starters and are looking for good and bad samples.

To make a sourdough starter, you mix the flour and water and then place it in a warm place to ferment (usually four to eight days). This mixture eventually becomes fermented batter filled with natural wild yeast and a bacterium called lactobacilli. This mixture makes sourdough bread rise.

However, not all bread starters are a success. Sometimes the mixture is kept in a cold place or it never ferments properly. Or the starter just smells very bad.

The Public Science Lab researchers want novice bakers to make sourdough starters at home from all types of flour under a variety of conditions (such as indoors or outdoors). And then you measure how well your bread starters rise, look and smell. And if the bakers have bad starter batches, the researchers still want to hear about them.

Previously, The Public Science Lab did the Global sourdough projectwhich helped researchers study hundreds of starters from around the world. Although they learned a lot from these starters, questions still remained.

Researchers were still curious as to whether the type of flour used and the location of the baker influenced the end result of a wild sourdough starter.

Interested bakers can register online. You will then be instructed how to prepare a “wild sourdough starter with just water and flour” according to a 10-day protocol. according to website.

The bakers then fill out a short online questionnaire listing their observations on bread starter.

Researchers will use this data to learn how geography and different flours can affect microbial growth over time, and how these microbes affect the taste and texture of bread.

“I really hope that some people can give us information about the starters who fail because we don’t hear enough about them. Lauren Nichols of the Lab’s Wild Sourdough Project said NPR on Wednesday. “And we definitely don’t hear enough about failure in science in general.”

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