The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough with Sour Whey and Vinegar

doughooker's picture

Sourdough with Sour Whey and Vinegar

Is anyone familiar with a formula developed by the USDA in which sourdough bread is made with sour whey (lactic acid) and vinegar (acetic acid)?

I imagine a conventional yeasted loaf is made and the acids, obtained from the whey and vinegar, are then added.

Sourdough Bread

ARS scientists at the USDA's Western Regional Research Laboratory in Albany, California, found an unidentified bacterium in starter doughs from local San Francisco bakeries. It worked cooperatively with a yeast to produce the bread's unusual crust, texture and slightly sour taste.

Subsequently, researchers on the other side of the continent, at the USDA's Eastern Regional Research Laboratory in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, worked with industry to develop a simple new procedure for making the bread. It used sour whey and vinegar instead of bacteria as sources of acetic and lactic acid. When the acids are added to a French bread formula in the quantities and proportions found in the traditional product, the result is a bread with the resilient body, robust flavor, coarse structure, and crisp chewy crust of the native San Francisco product. As a result, supermarkets everywhere today feature, not only sourdough breads, but also rolls and English muffins.

David R's picture
David R

If this is such a great idea, why have its results remained consistently poor? I don't notice the good characteristics you described at all in the fake sourdough products. Yes it's sour. I can squeeze a lemon over my bread, dip it in vinegar, whatever, and make it taste sour - that's trivial. The bread itself has the look, feel, and texture of - well, not even of instant-yeast bread, but of clumsily doctored instant-yeast bread. They might as well paint the scoring on with caramel colour, and bake it in a pebbly pan to simulate the look of cornmeal.

And all this for what? Sourdough can be difficult at times, but nowhere near as difficult as trying to fake sourdough.