The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Salt Rising Bread

gdubya's picture

Salt Rising Bread

Anybody have a good experience with Salt Rising Bread?

Locations for recipes, tips, tricks, things to avoid, etc.?


Thanks for any help.


pmccool's picture


I have no personal experience with making salt rising bread. I remember eating some that my grandmother made back when I was in elementary school and not really caring for it. Mom's yeasted breads were more to my taste. Dunno what I would think of it today.

You could start here:

Or google on "salt rising" and you'll have over 21,000 additional choices. Have fun!


uppercrust's picture

Salt rising bread is relatively unknown except for a few localities where it is still made. I happen to come from such a place and am very fond of SRB. Recently I came across a really excellent site on this topic:

Go to that site and pay special attention to Reinhart Nielsen's article.

I hope this thread will lead to a larger discussion of SRB. It is a unique method of bread making. Yeast is not involved. The fermention which produces the rise is the product of a bacterium.

Salt rising bread has a soft texture and distinctive mellow flavor. It is especially good toasted.

gdubya's picture


 Thanks for the link.  I hit the site you listed and began to read the suggested article.

I only got through the first page and saw Greencastle Indiana as a source for Salt Rising bread in the 50's.  Since my memory is that of a child of the 50's, and having grown up in Brownsburg and Speedway, which are close to Greencastle, I may have eaten that very same bread.

 Now I am a baker (owner) of a Great Harvest Bread Franchise.  (No I cannot share our secrets or recipes!!)

 But I'm trying to find out more for myself and for one of my bakers who has a friend asking about Salt Rising Bread too.

 I remember this bread as being just soOOOOO good as toast with fresh butter!!!


uppercrust's picture

"I remember this bread as being just soOOOOO good as toast with fresh butter!!!"

Talk about comforting! I wouldn't eat it any other way.

What Reinhart Nielsen has done is remove much of the mystery and unpredictability from the process, which has not been well understood and has been notorious for failed batches. I had to analyze his info carefully to come up with a recipe. He gives a lot of method but no exact recipe. I have never made salt rising bread, but will try it soon. I feel confident that Nielsen's method will work.

SRB is readily available in certain stores around my old stomping grounds, Allegany county, New York, which is accurately described on that web site. I and my siblings bring back a loaf for everyone when we visit there. I never knew of anyone to make it at home, but have heard of it. What I heard is that it stinks up the house.

This bread needs people such as you, me and PMcCool to carry on the tradition. Anybody else becoming curious? It is not just another variation on a familiar type of bread. It is different from all others.

Russ's picture

I don't think there were links to them anywhere on the site, but here's a few salt rise recipes:


foolishpoolish's picture

I was experimenting with some whole wheat soakers left at 100F the other day and noticed some interesting activity which I can only assume to be microbiological (the smell was a bit funky!)

One of the soakers had salt in, the other did not.  Both showed signs of some sort of organism at work after about 12 hours.

The funky smell (hard to describe - was not like anything I've come across before with my sourdough starter) - put me off trying to bake the samples (the salty dough had less odour) but I'm curious to know if the organism at work might have been Clostridium Perfrigens - the salt-rising bacterium... 

Anyone else have similar experiences? Is this safe to bake and eat...or am I possibly cultivating something far less palatable...?




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and it sounds like you're on to something.  The German written recipe says it smells like old used socks.  Does that come close?

Mini O

swtgran's picture

I have made salt rising bread a time or two, and I would say it smells more like a stronger cheese. 

You have to make sure the corn meal you use is the whole grain and fresh.  I really like it and have found a yogurt maker a good place to let it get all foamy. 

Since it is more of a bread for delicious toast, it seems to stay fresh a little longer than other bread.  Boy is it good all slathered with good butter.  The reason I rarely make it.  Terry

kathryn's picture

In my opinion there is nothing better than Salt Rising Bread but it is tricky to make.  There was a bakery in Kansas City when I was a girl - I think it was named Manor - that made this bread and we all loved it.  I do not have much time to make it at the moment, and I would not consider myself an expert,  but there are two tricks I used that gave very good results.  First of all the cormeal must be fresh.  Bulk cornmeal I bought from my local coop worked for awhile but went bad quickly and was not dependable.  Freezing it did not help.  THen I tried grinding my own using popcorn and a coffee grinder.  THis worked really well.  The other thing that was important was exact temperatures.  I used an old water temperature control that used to be used for keeping photo chemicals at temperature (only water went through the machine - NOT chemicals!)  In this constant temperature water bath  I put a the large bowl with the starter. 

Warn your family of the horrible smell it will create, but they will soon forgive you when they taste the results!  Yes toast it by all means!  I would agree that it smells "cheesy"

And for Great Harvest - a wonderful baker!  I live in Bloomington.


Bad Cook's picture
Bad Cook

I've been curious about Salt Rising Bread ever since I saw it mentioned in Little House on the Prairie books.  I like to find out and try the old ways of doing things.  I'm going to give this a try sometime, although, once my crew smells the "old sock" smell, they'll never taste it!  :)

Another thing mention in the LHOTP books that piqued my interest was "crackling cornbread".  It always sounded so crunchy and delicious.  I did a little research on it and am going to try that someday, too.  (Also found a way to make "cracklin's" from chicken skins....tried it and it's good!)

Ford's picture

Yes Salt Rising Bread is tricky and does not always come out.  Here is a recipe that I have used.

Incidentally, King Arthur Flour at one time sold a "Salt Rising Yeast", but unfortunately they have discontinur=ed that item.  It made good bread reproducibly.


[1/2" slice: 62 g, 148 cal, 4.3g prot, 2.3g fat, 27.2 g carb.]

2 medium, raw, peeled, thinly sliced potatoes
1 quart boiling water
1/3 cup cornmeal (stone ground process)
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tspn. (0.1 oz.) salt

Put the thinly sliced potatoes in a large bowl, then pour in boiling water.  Sprinkle on the sugar, salt, and cornmeal.  Place the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and put it in a warm (about 110°F) spot where the temperature remains fairly steady.  Do not cover!!!  The starter must then be foaming, with some corn meal and perhaps even a few slices of potato floating.  It will have a strong odor.  Don’t let it sit much longer or it may become too sour and mask the flavor of the bread.  Remove the potato slices and discard them.

1 1/2 cups (10 oz.) scalded, tepid whole milk
1/4 tspn. baking soda
3 1/2 (14.9 oz.) cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tspn. (0.1 oz.) sugar

Scald milk (190°F) then cool to 110°F.  Add baking soda to the starter and stir.  Then add milk, sugar, and unbleached flour.  Beat briskly until smooth, then cover with a plastic wrap and again place in a larger bowl of hot water.  Set in a warm (110°F) place, and let the sponge rise.  This may take as much as 5 hours, or as little as 2 hours.  When ready, the sponge will look creamy and will have foam on top, and still have the strong cheese odor.  If insufficient rising at this point, the dough probably will not rise sufficiently.

8 - 10 cups (34 – 42 oz.) unbleached flour or bread flour
1 tspn. sugar
2 1/2 tspn. (0.5 oz.) salt
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
solid shortening for greasing pans
melted butter for brushing dough
water in a sprayer (optional)

Put 4 cups of flour, 1 tspn. sugar and 2 1/2 tspn. salt into a large bowl, and blend.  Add shortening in small pieces and blend in as for pie dough, until the mixture looks like fine meal.  Add the flour mixture to the sponge and beat until well mixed.  Then add enough flour (4 - 5 cups, or more) to make a soft, manageable dough that you can knead.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or two, adding flour as necessary.  Let it rest for ten minutes.  Resume the kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary.  Divide into three loaves (about 2 3/4 lb. each), and shape each piece to fit the loaf pans.  Place each into a greased loaf pan, brush with melted butter, and cover with plastic wrap.  Set loaf pans in a larger pan of hot water, and set all in a warm place (110°F) to rise.  This final rise takes about 2 to 5 hours, and the loaves should double the original volume.  (I have found that this bread will not rise quite as much other bread.)

Preheat oven to 375°F (optionally, with a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf) and the middle shelf reserved for the bread pans.  When the dough has risen (you may spray the dough with water, and) place immediately into the oven.  Spray the loaves 3 additional times at 2 minute intervals to permit additional rising.  Bake until the interior temperature of the loaves is 200°F.  They should sound hollow when thumped with a finger on the bottom, about 60 minutes.  It is better to overbake than to risk underbaking.  Turn out on to a cooling rack, brush with butter, and cover with a damp cloth until cooled.  Bread may then be packaged and frozen.

To me, making Salt Rising Bread is mostly art and very little science.  We do not know the causes for some of my failures, though we are still trying to determine them.  We suggest that anyone trying this recipe, not make substitutions, and take all the precautions listed, until after at least one success.  We would like very much to know what substitutions are safe and what precautions are unnecessary.  We believe the primary source of failure is the lack of sufficient organisms reaching the starter to make an active leaven, see below.
A proofing oven is ideal for the various rising steps.  One can be made of a large cardboard box with a light bulb for heat.  (Do not let the bulb touch the box.)  We have used an electric oven and manually adjusted the temperature, but this is tricky.  Leaving the oven light bulb on will give a warm environment.  A gas oven with only the pilot light on will work, as will the top of a hot water heater.
Be sure to measure the temperature of the proofing oven (or area) — too high a temperature kills the organisms and too low (below 100°F) will not permit fast enough growth.  A temperature of 110°F seems to be about ideal for proofing.  The initial temperature of water in which the dough container rests may be as hot as 140°F.  This yeast seems to like a higher temperature than normal yeast.
Do NOT cover the potato and cornmeal starter.  We believe the most important source of the leavening organism is the atmosphere we breathe.  We have experimented with covered and uncovered starters.  The uncovered worked and the covered did not!  It is probably a good idea not to attempt the starter, if it is raining or snowing, since these clear the air of some of the yeast spores.
Do not use any product that has a live culture in it such as sweet acidophilus milk, yogurt, or buttermilk.  Or, at least scald (190°F for 10 minutes) such a product to kill any active organisms.  The organisms may be antagonistic to the leavening organism.
Be careful of preservatives that may be in the various ingredients.  They may kill the leavening organism.  Salt is a preservative; too much will slow or stop the leavening process.
If at any time in the process the product does not appear to be working, i.e., generating the gases needed for proper rising, discard it, and start over.  The starter must generate a good deal of foam, the sponge must also foam, and the dough must increase in bulk by 100%.  Possible causes for not working include the following.  (1) Cornmeal is too refined, or contains preservative or has been heated.  (2) The starter mixture is covered so that spores cannot get to the nutrients.  (3) A product containing an antagonistic culture, or a preservative was used.  (4) Improper rising temperatures were used.
To avoid off flavors, do not use vessels or utensils for the starter or the sponge in which bare aluminum, copper, or iron is exposed.  Good stainless steel is acceptable.
Adapted from Fanny Farmer Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham, Knopf, New York 1984

Sue423's picture

Thanks for posting this recipe. I remember Salt Rising Bread being delivered to our farmhouse door, right after WW II ended 1946. Such a thrill to hear the Manor Bakery truck (from Kansas City, Missouri) come to our isolated farm. Salt Rising Bread is great toasted with butter, as others say - then even better to sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on that & toast it under the broiler. Another wonderful use for this bread -- for bacon & tomato sandwiches!
Salt Rising doesn't refer to any salt in it - it's "Sault" & means Slow Risen. I remember 1 week no Salt Rising Bread from Manor Bakery because "last night's starter went bad." So failures even happened to experienced commercial bakers - don't feel bad if you lose some.

Ford's picture

" Salt Rising doesn't refer to any salt in it - it's "Sault" & means Slow Risen."

That is an explanation I have not heard before.  What language is the word "sault"?  From the Old French "sault" means "rapids or water fall", as in "Sault Sante Marie".

The explanation for the name "salt rising bread" that I have found most prevalent is from the former use of heated rock salt used as a bed for the bowl of starter in making this bread.  As you commented, it certainly is not from the use of salt (NaCl) as a leaven.


Sue423's picture

I submitted a reply on this with more Salt Rising Bread history -- but only 1 sentence & a partial showed up - did I submit it wrong? Or what happened?

Trialer70's picture

I will heartily advocate for Ford's salt rising bread recipe.  I have had much success with it and yes, it makes wonderful toast.  Follow his instructions to the "T" and you'll be glad you did.

Sue423's picture

Ford question: I don't really know what language the "Sault" in Sault/Salt Risen/Rising bread is (maybe German?). I remember it from the cookbook I originally found a recipe in (from back in the early 50's) - it called it Sault Risen (Salt Rising) Bread & explained that the Sault meant slow-risen rather than a reference to salt in it. I wonder if the name Salt Rising came about from someone who didn't know how to spell sault & thought it referred to the salt, as the bread does have a salty taste to it (from the natural formation of yeast). Old cookbooks that I have all use the Sault Risen name.

I am very interested in the breads made without yeast (or that make their own) because I like to prepare foods that connect us to our ancestors & the way they lived. Nice & cozy to sit around our homemade table in our farmhouse that we & our kids built, candle or lantern light, big pot of soup & fresh bread (unfortunately don't have a cow any more so don't have fresh milk & butter, but we do have our own eggs :).

kathryn's picture

My goodness!  I want to move in with you!  It sounds wonderfully cozy. We have a garden but we had to put up a 7 foot deer fence.  The racoons eat every last apple, one day before you are ready to pick them, and a fox killed all my neighbor's chickens in one night.  So much for anything like a farm here - but we do see lots of animals.

As the days start to look like fall, I start to think about Salt Rising bread!

Do you have the names of some of these cookbooks?

Sue423's picture

Kathryn, I sure do understand raccoon damage (my sympathy to you re your garden...we built a 9 ft. fence after deer killed a half-grown peach tree... & your neighbor re the fox in the henhouse)! It seems they know to the minute when fruit, berries or corn is "almost ripe" so they can get it when you say "it'll be ready to pick tomorrow" -- here in rural north Missouri, raccoons just had a population explosion, & are causing lots of damage. They killed a pair of ducks (Daisy had laid eggs & was setting...) -- then started killing our hens. We kept tightening security (we thought we had a varmint-proof house) & they kept busting through (even tore up a house window that we had used in the rebuilt house). We set 2 live traps every night, finally got them locked out & started catching them (on marshmallows). With the window ripped out, we covered the outside of that wall with a wire panel & plugged it in to house current. All this got the big raccoon (the leader) so mad she forced her way into our chick house (which we had built new...but she forced entry through a sliding door, heavy one) & killed 27 half-grown pullets, exotic chicks (which I planned to sell to pay for others), pair of Rouen ducks, pair of geese & 3 turkeys. Didn't eat them, just slaughtered them. We caught 12 raccoons in all.

OTOH one year I grew a small patch of wheat, mostly for the long black beards on the heads  - for decorations - but the wheat tasted good, too. & this year I'll try collecting some seeds from giant ragweeds, amaranth & lambsquarter, all of which were used as grains by Native Americans in older times. Also, try making some flour from white oak acorns. Since health problems this year left me unable to weed garden at prime times, the weeds have grown rampant - might as well harvest those (have eaten them for veggies all season).

John Dickey's picture
John Dickey

There is a bakery in southwest Pennslyvania that daily makes a very good version of salt rising bread.  You can visit their web pate at this address:

I stop and buy a couple of loaves every time I pass through on I79.