The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

does Anyone know the Taste of authentic San Francisco bacteria and has real S.F Starter to share please ?

Herbgarden's picture

does Anyone know the Taste of authentic San Francisco bacteria and has real S.F Starter to share please ?

Greetings sourdough friends !

Does anyone here know the exact authentic taste of Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis and has a real live and pure San Francisco culture going for sure, without contamination ?

I still struggling to find truly healthy food and heal my digestion, and fermented 100% rye or other grain with authentic San Francisco starter might be one of the only foods I can eat at the moment, but I still do not have a real authentic starter

Could somebody be willing to share theirs in dry form(chunks preferably, no need to powder), sent in a mail envelope please ?

But only, if you completely sure that you have an authentic San Francisco starter, and pure, with Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis, from previous tasting experience

Thank you very much,

(email is BorealTribe @, if you are able to share a tiny bit of dry piece)

After so many years, I finally learned how to take care of this symbiotic relationship properly !

BreadBabies's picture

I don't know how anyone could be sure they have l.sf without some sort of advanced degree and a microscope. Is it even possible to have only one variety of bacteria in such a complex bio-environment? Sounds like a question for Debra Wink.

Lechem's picture

Any starter made in San Francisco will be an authentic San Francisco starter but all will be unique as no two starters are exactly the same. l.sf is not unique to starters made in San Francisco so what makes a SF starter a real SF starter? Purely by location only and not by the make-up of the actual starter.

AlanG's picture

My reading of the microbiological literature indicates that L. sanfranciscensis is present in virtually all sourdough cultures.  There are some genomic features that allow it to out compete other lactobacilli.  It's important to remember that sourdough cultures are a complex set of microorganisms and every one will be slightly different because of the flour used to both start and maintain the culture as well as environmental microorganisms from the region where you live.

Proving that a culture has L. sanfranciscensis is complex and requires genomic analysis for proof.  You are never going to have a 100% pure L. sanfranciscensis starter as it wouldn't do much without the wild yeast that does the bulk of the fermentation work that generates the CO2 that allows the dough to rise.

suave's picture

The problem is, all these studies center around European cultures, but as far as I can tell no one has ever attempted to survey American sourdoughs, so we have no idea what kind of diversity there might exist.

plevee's picture

The Dunn lab in Boston is doing some kind of analysis of sourdough starters and was requesting samples earlier this year. I sent some of mine in. They said it might be up to a year to get results. Could be interesting.

dabrownman's picture

for you.  I started it in 1973 in the middle of SF at Treasure Island. but I have to warn you after all of these years and living all over the world and having about a hundred other sourdough cultures folded onto it over the years it is a bit different than way back when it was originally made.  I'm not the same either but the starter seems to be in way better shape than me today:-)  The lab fees shouldn't cost more than a few hundred dollars to find out exactly what is in it today.

Doc.Dough's picture

Pure culture available freeze dried from

Herbgarden's picture

According to my microbiology research...

If you use any flour + a pinch of fresh homemade malt powder(3-10%) should be enough,

then mix it very well with 5% alcohol water (this will reduce yeast growth about 3-4x, but not affect lactobacillus until 7%),

the Pasteurize mixture at 57C for 1-3 hours(this also turns starch into as much Maltose as possible), 

And now mix in your S.F. culture, and let stand at 30-32C, no less, this will select for Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis almost entirely and maybe other very similar Lactobacillus in the sourdough,

with minimal to no yeast present after a few feedings at this temperature (you'd need to feed 2-4x a day, maybe first feeding after 8hr and then next one after 16hr, then after 8hr again, etc., need to experiment here)

Then you should have very close to pure Lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis culture ! or very similar after a few days only, maybe a week,

and then if you put this into fridge at 4-6C, and feed only once a week, then immediately put back into fridge, this will further select for Lactobacillus and eliminate any Yeasts that should have remained

Lactobacillus is the one doing all the healthy fermentation in your sourdough, yeasts pretty much only produce harmful by-products + CO2, and turn your sourdough into an alcoholic brew

CO2 is not even needed to rise anything, if you then make a healthy raw breads at ~60C for few hours, instead of fyring/burning your breads in the oven at high temperatures...

There you go, feel free to try the healthy way to make sourdough bread ! (If enough people try this, then we should come to near perfect, healthiest way here)

Thank you for listening

suave's picture

What you are going to get is a clay brick.

drogon's picture

do you really think those ol' sourdoughs of the Californian gold rush era did that to make their bread?


Lechem's picture

They just mixed flour and water then waited till it bubbled.

Herbgarden's picture

And to further Clean Up our sourdough, during this process, and eat up the residual GLUCOSE, so no Yeasts would even think to grow in there, we can mix in a very gentle homofermentive Lactic Acid producing probiotic bacteria, like Lactobacillus Salivarius or maybe even Lactococcus lactis (I will try this soon)

(you can easily Cultivate pure cultures of these yourself, by pasteurizing raw cabbage juice at 60C for 1-3 hours, then adding in pure probiotic bacteria, and letting the jar stand at 37C for Lactobacillus Salivarius, or 30C for Lactococcus lactis, their optimum temperatures, for about 24-36hr, then putting them in fridge for long storage while they still have a little bit of food left in the jar)

They will Not Only eat up any residual Glucose, but help to create an antibacterial environment, together with other Lacto-bacteria, to keep any kind of Yeast or Fungi out

clazar123's picture

....but there is very little "pure" anything on this planet and because something is a mixed bag does not make it contaminated or unhealthy. Peas and carrots can be mixed on the plate(except by my sister) and mixed sourdough and yeast cultures can produce very healthy bread for most people.

 On the other hand, obsession with perfection is well documented to cause all kinds of health issues, including digestive issues and you do seem obsessed with pureness and contamination. I hope besides exploring food intolerances on your own that you are able to get medical help from local experts as it sounds like your digestive issues are serious. There are excellent consultants available in mainstream medicine. Sometimes it is a matter of finding the right one and sometimes we have to accept difficult information from them and work with the hand we are dealt.

I've been alive long enough to experience all kinds of trends and recommendations as to what healthy eating or healthy foods are. I've seen the pendulum swing both ways on most subjects. What I have learned is that humans can have individual differences in how food affects them but most will thrive when eating a variety of everything available on the planet-even some things considered poisonous if partaken in too large an amount. "Moderation in all things and sometimes even in moderation" has become my mantra for healthy eating.  

I hope you are able to resolve your digestive issues and be healthy. I am afraid that continuing down this path will only make you more nutrient deprived and continue the ill cycle.

I know your subject is sourdough but I wonder if you would get any more helpful responses in the "Baking for Special Needs" forum on this site?

doughooker's picture


 do you really think those ol' sourdoughs of the Californian gold rush era did that to make their bread?


Yeah, really.

Believe it or not, people were making wonderful sourdough bread before microscopes, pH paper/meters, digital scales, etc., and the nearest source of pineapple juice (pineapples) was thousands of miles away.

BTW several prominent sourdough bakeries were located across the bay from  San Francisco in Oakland.

The O.P. should see a doctor if he/she is having digestive problems.

If someone sends the O.P. some uncontaminated starter, what kind of flour will be used to make the bread and how will he/she know it isn't "contaminated"?

BobBoule's picture

there is enough yeast on all commercially purchased flour to turn any sourdough culture into whatever culture the wheat was grown in to make that flour. My wife is a third generation Californian and what we were told by the "California Sourdough" manufacturers is that its a marketing ploy to sell more bread to the tourists, because yeast is all over the planet and it floats around freely, there is nothing to keep the local yeast local. They also believe that all yeast of the strain sanfranciscans is the same creature all over the world, but there marketing departments keep all the employees employed by promoting it as a unique local product.

When family comes to visiting they invariably buy officially packaged California Sourdough bread at the airport to take home, despite my pleadings that I can buy them much better bread from the local artisan bakers. Thats how powerful the marketing has been.

As for the Gold Rush folks, California Sourdough was made before that, by the original pioneers that crossed America to get to California, in the Land Grab Rush. They made sourdough all the way across, so their sourdough commonly started in New York and picked up strains of sanfranciscans in each state all across the way, so California Sourdough that is still being kept alive, that dates back to the pioneer days, is actually a mix of all the yeast that available across the US, not from any one particular strain (if such a thing even exists).

For digestive problems I would see a doctor to rule out gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, or other condition before I worried about the source of my years for my starter. If it turns out to be a mild intolerance to gluten then I would go to the original ancient grain that is the mother of all wheat, Einkorn, and make my part and loaves from that to see if it helped the symptoms any (many folks have been reporting thatches works, for mild intolerance cases).

the hadster's picture
the hadster


I haven't read all the posts, so excuse me if this information has already been given.

First, Ed Wood at International Sour Dough has many different starters for sale, including SF sour dough.

Secondly, after reading Ed Wood's book, I then read the original paper written by Sugihara & Kline. I now know that the idea that a healthy sour dough culture will change over time to a different type of culture is wrong.  So, you don't need to keep buying SF sour dough culture.  All you need to do is maintain your SF culture.  Basically, a health culture produces compounds that keep interloping bacteria and yeast out.  So, no matter how often you feed it, or with what, it will still be a SF culture.  Yes, there might be foreign bacteria and yeast in the flour and water, but only small amounts and they are dormant.  By the time they wake up and think about reproducing, the resident bacteria, in the millions and wide away, are killing the foreign bacteria.

Many people have chosen not to believe this, and that's fine.  It doesn't matter at all.  I choose to believe micro-biologists.

Good luck!


doughooker's picture

what we were told by the "California Sourdough" manufacturers is that its a marketing ploy to sell more bread to the tourists

I wholeheartedly agree. The "sourdough" they sell on Fisherman's Wharf tastes awfully vinegary to me, leading me to suspect that they're faking the sour, hoping tourists won't know the difference.

The old-school S.F. sourdough manufacturing process is well documented. It took 8 hours to proof the sponge and another 8 hours to proof the dough, a total of 16 hours. By using baker's yeast and faking the sourness they can turn out more loaves per hour with a lower labor cost and higher profit.

the idea that a healthy sour dough culture will change over time to a different type of culture is wrong.

Right. The yeast and lactobacillus have been found all over the world, so it's not endemic to S.F. Most likely the yeast settles on the grain in the wheat field and some is picked up during the milling process. As they have been found worldwide, I don't think you can say there are strains specific to any particular geographic region. I think that's mythology.