The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Flavor

newbreadman's picture

Sourdough Flavor

I have had several active starters over the years and have just recently started a "wild yeast" starter. No matter what I try, I can never get that strong sourdough flavor in my bread. The loaves look and rise beautifully but always have just a hint of the sourdough tartness.

Any ideas??
THANKS in advance!!!

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Newbreadman. 

Welcome to The Fresh Loaf! 

The sourness in sourdough bread comes in two basic flavors: Acetic acid, which is the harsher, vinegar-like sourness and lactic acid, which is the softer sourness. By changing starter to new flour ratios, hydration of your starter, temperature of fermentation and length of fermentation, you can manipulate the amount of these chemicals and their balance to your taste. 

If you want a more assertive, intense sourness, I assume you mean you want more acetic acid. To acheive this, you want 1) a firmer starter, and 2) a longer fermentation. 

So, assuming you are starting with a liquid starter, refresh it with a higher flour to water ratio to the consistancy of a stiff dough. Knead it enough to hydrate all the flour and let it rise at roof temperature until doubled. Then refrigerate it overnight or up to 3 days in a covered container. Then take it out and let it warm up at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Then use it in a sourdough bread recipe you like.  

In general, a lower proportion of sourdough starter to flour in a recipe will give you a longer fermentation time and more sourness than using a higher proportion of starter. 

That's my understanding, subject to correction by more experienced and knowlegible bakers. 

Happy baking! 


hokietoner's picture

In Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb":

"The thicker sponge encourages more of the sweeter lactic acids, while still promoting sourness. As a rule, lactic acid-producing organisms prefer drier sponges and acetic acid producers like wetter, looser, more oxygen-rich sponges." (p73)

Darkstar's picture


There is also a lesson page for sourdough where JMonkey posted Squeeze more sour from your sourdough which suggests some techniques to get more sour flavor. Read the comments toward the bottom to get suggestions on proofing too.

There are other sourdough lessons off the main lesson page at the link below.


Hope this helps! 

newbreadman's picture

Thanks folks!!!