Buckwheat sourdough experiments

I recently read a blog post about buckwheat pancakes, and decided to experiment with buckwheat and sourdough fermentation.

Buckwheat is available and both roasted and unroasted. Because I'm hoping to use the bacteria naturally present on the buckwheat I need unroasted. It has a light green color:

Raw buckwheat

Tap water is generally chlorinated. This could harm the bacteria, so I think it would be best if it was removed. My tap water doesn't smell of chlorine, so I assume it contains chloramine rather than chlorine itself. It's not practical to remove chloramine by boiling, but it can be destroyed by ascorbic acid. The cheapest source of ascorbic acid I could find locally was effervescent vitamin C tablets. These were orange flavored, but I only need a small quantity (I used about 1/10th a tablet which is probably more than enough) so the orange flavoring shouldn't change the final taste too much. I also added about 75ml of live yogurt to provide some known good bacteria.

Dechlorinated water and yogurt

I soaked the buckwheat in enough dechlorinated water and yogurt to cover it with plenty of room for expansion, and left it for 10 hours at room temperature (about 19C).

Buckwheat soaking

The initial pH of the soak liquid was about 6:

Initial pH test approx 6

After 10 hours I thoroughly drained the buckwheat but did not rinse it.

Drained buckwheat

I don't want to soak the whole buckwheat too long because because buckwheat sprouts contain the photo-sensitizing toxin fagopyrin. I added some more dechlorinated water and yogurt and blended the buckwheat. I hope that the combination of blending and the fermentation process will halt sprouting.

Blended buckwheat

I left the mixture for 24 hours at room temperature. The appearance did not change, and there did not seem to be any bubbles formed beyond residual bubbles from the blending. The smell of the mixture changed somewhat, hard to describe but maybe slightly cheese like. The pH did not seem to change.

Post fermentation approx 6

Because this is an test of sourdough fermentation I did not add any egg, butter, oil, etc., that could mask the taste. I poured some of the mixture directly into a non-stick pan and cooked it over a low heat.

First test pancake

It bound together well and formed a cohesive pancake.

Cooked pancake

The buckwheat flavor seemed milder than non-fermented buckwheat pancakes I've tried. It was only mildy sour. The internal texture was soft and chewy.

Internal texture of cooked pancake

I tried cooking over a higher heat and it stuck to the non-stick pan. Probably it would not stick if I'd used oil or butter.

Fast cooking results in poor structure

I tried cooking some in a ramekin in an oven, for 30 minutes at about 160C. It cooked well but it stuck to the ramekin and was difficult to clean so I don't recommend this.

Batter cooked in ramekin

I left the remaining mixture to ferment at room temperature for another 24 hours. The pH was similar, maybe slightly lower but it's hard to tell with varying lighting conditions. The smell increased. Viscosity seemed lower. Stickiness was higher, making it harder to cook into pancakes. Taste of the cooked pancakes was more sour than the previous batch. It still tastes edible, but I only tried a small portion and saved the rest for later because I'm not 100% sure. I also saved some of the mixture as a starter culture for another batch I might make later.

If I had to pick one batch as best I'd go for the 24 hour fermentation over the 48 hour fermentation purely for the greater ease of cooking.

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