LM maintenance in quotes

… this time of year marks a notable uptick in my advice being sought on the subject of lievito madre (LM) and panettone. There is at this time some persisting misunderstandings about how to maintain the LM day to day. From those correspondences I have selected some of my comments, some repetitive but justifiably so, that I hope will help clarify the operation.

‘With general use it is important that one warm refresh is done per day otherwise it will slip further away from its optimum. Feeding every 12hrs only, is not fully sufficient, the LM is not getting the warm fermentation it needs, rather it is remaining in the storage phase which simply serves to prolong the fermentation…’

‘The defining moment of a mature LM is only ever achieved in that window of 3-4hrs at 28°C and it usually takes three consecutive refreshes to get there. ’

‘…specifically a “refresh” is the leavening that occurs in the warmth at approx. 28°C and does not refer to any feed done in preparation for the storage phase’

‘1:1 is the normal standard ratio and 1:2 is used when the LM becomes too strong or too sour, the skill comes in knowing when to recognise those situations when 1:2 is required.’

‘While the typical approach with starters is to adapt the ratio according to the time of fermentation that is not how it works with LM. Instead, time and temperature are adjusted and the ratio is kept stable, this is key.’

‘…indeed, the LM is continuously cycled and is not something that is maintained separately and then branched from. In an operating bakery the LM would be taken from cold storage, refreshed (3-4hrs) one or more times to build up enough mass to leaven a batch of bread etc. At the point after mixing the last refresh a piece is reserved and put into storage which becomes the new mother for the next day…’

‘Your maintenance schedule is good, but you are not performing any refreshes. A refresh occurs at approx. 28°C lasting 3-4hrs. This is where a LM will gain its correct properties, and with repetition gain strength and establish maturity. At least one refresh, limited to 3-4hrs must occur daily. Note that the LM is rebuilt multiples times a day and continuously cycled. I have now included an infographic on the LM page on my blog that may be helpful. Massari recommends the LM be refreshed 3 times a day for 3 days prior to making a panettone. But you can definitely get away with less.’

‘Importantly a mature LM when cut into will have an aroma that is alcoholic but non-sour. The taste should be a little tart / acidic, however.’

4 thoughts on “LM maintenance in quotes

  1. Hi Michael,

    This is excellent information regarding daily maintenance. I could find any correction details around daily maintenance until now. Thank you so much and I hope you have a lovely Christmas.


  2. I’m sorry to bother you, but I do have some questions to ask you for help. I have been troubled by my pasta madre. I see that you have made outstanding achievements and made in-depth research in this field, so I hope to get your help, although this can be regarded as an excessive request. At the beginning, I followed the tutorial from Baking Street and prepared it with broken apples and water. Until the daily feeding stage, I couldn’t find a constant temperature environment of 18-20 degrees for it to stay for 24 hours, so I could only try to cultivate it at 28 degrees, soak it in cold water (adjusted between 4-20 degrees), and feed it once every 12 hours at 1:1:0.4. The result is puzzling. It only takes 30 minutes to float in water. I recorded that its acidity is usually between 3.7 and 3.9 after 12 hours. I thought it was a manifestation of its health and strength. The lower acidity helped me to control its bacterial content through acidity in a warmer environment.But I gradually found that it doesn’t seem to be able to expand 3 times in 3-4 hours at 28 degrees at any time, but it is usually only about 2 times (maybe 2.5 times). For this reason, I consulted a lot of data to try to solve this problem, but I found that the effect was not satisfactory. As for its situation and related problems, there are still many details to be added, but the length may be too long. In a word, I tried to find a way to cultivate it in a warm environment, but I have not been very successful until now. So if I can, I hope to get your help and continue to exchange all the details related to it. Thank you very much. I hope you can see and reply to this message. I will feel extremely honored and thank you again.

    • Always happy to help, where time permits. Firstly, temperature is key and you need to invest in methods to maintain those temperatures consistently.

      Not tripling is likely the result of it being too acidic. When mixing a new refresh the starting pH is telling. Ideally it should be between 4.8-5.0 when fed 1:1.

      If you have pictures they might help, you can contact me (mwilson) on thefreshloaf.com

      • Thank you very much for your answer. I may choose to buy a refrigeration equipment when I really can’t control it, but I may not be very convenient at present. I have never accurately measured its ph just after mixing, because my pH meter is more sensitive to liquid, so I can only measure pm more conveniently after it has been kept in water for several hours.So I only know that after 12 hours at 28℃, its ph is usually between 3.7 and 3.9.
        I read a lot of your posts on thefreshloaf, which is very helpful to me, but I don’t know how to contact you on it. It doesn’t seem to have a private chat function (or maybe I haven’t found it yet). I even found your YouTube, but I still can’t contact you accurately. I tried to find your ins, but it didn’t succeed. I just registered an account on thefreshroaf this morning, and I will continue to try to contact you on it, and try to communicate my pm situation with you through private chat.

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