The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough: How to develop...

dedo's picture

Sourdough: How to develop...

Good evening nice people!

I have a few questions I cannot find answers to. I will be very grateful, if someone would be so kind and push me to the right direction. Any help is appreciated. Because I have so many questions and only few things have made sense to me so far, I will try to ask "one by one" avoiding to confuse you.

Let's start with the sourdough starter...

What change should be made in order to get less sour starter? Does the feeding time affect the sourness? By feeding time I mean either feed the starter regularly every +/- 12 hours or feeding the starter when it is hungry. Or the feeding volume? Feeding volume: say the feeding ration is 1:5:5, I can do it 5g:25g:25g or 20g:100g:100g. Or is it something else?

Another question is: what does change the speed of raising excluding the temperature of the room? I watched a video where the guy had the started doubled in 4 hours just sitting on the counter. Mine one doubles in 8-9 hours on the counter. I am not sure if I need to speed up the starter, though, I'd like to know as much as possible about it.

I feed my white flour starter regularly every 12 hours, 1:5:5. It's a young starter, 4 weeks old. It more than doubles its volume in 12 hours being full of bubbles. It spent 6 days in the fridge one week ago but now I keep it on the counter and I do not want to put it back to the fridge until I fully understand it.

Thank you very much in advance!

BaniJP's picture

In a nutshell, to my knowledge sourness is affected by mostly three things - temperature, hydration and time. The more, the more sourness.

The speed is mostly affected, apart from temperature, by hydration and flour type. Higher hydration means more water availability, speeding up fermentation. Different flours ferment differently and I can imagine that even the carb complexity (white flour vs. whole grain) affects the speed because it takes longer or shorter to break down the starches.

HansB's picture



Homofermentative bacteria prefer environments that are wet and moderately warm, perhaps 70-95F. Their chief by-product during fermentation is lactic acid which is fairly mild in it's sourness compared to the sharper acids contained in lemon juice or  vinegar. Homofermentative bacteria can survive in somewhat drier conditions and within other temperature ranges but they do better in the warmer range.




Heterofermentative Bacteria do better in somewhat drier and cooler environments, they prefer temperatures of about 50-65F. They produce both lactic acid and acetic acid as by-products as well as a small amount of CO2. Acetic acid is also found commonly in vinegar and it’s flavor is much sharper that that of lactic acid. Heterofermmentative bacteria can survive in some numbers as different temperatures than specified and in wetter environments, but drier and cooler situations favor their reproduction and their ability to ferment bread dough.



Daniel T. DiMuzio, Bread Baking.


dedo's picture

Thank you guys! Now few things make more sense to me. My last loaf had been raising in the fridge for 12 hours before it was put to the oven. It was quite sour in taste. I'm going to think about the overall picture, put new information into it and possibly come out with new questions.

ckujawa's picture

As indicated above, temperature plays a huge role in the flavor you get from your wild yeast. Refreshing/feeding daily also helps keep ph balanced (I don't recall where I first read that...kaf maybe?... But Hamelman talks about feeding schedules in his book). Essentially though, if your year is undernourished you can get if flavors, but in you case I think it's more temperature related... Maybe try a shorter ferment at room temp? Though I've got a formula from Flour water salt year I'm planning for this weekend that has a16 hour room temp ferment... Crossing my fingers because it crashed and burned last time I made it.

Hope this helps!


Correction... The 16 hour ferment is for the pate fermentee... Not bulk

dedo's picture

Thank you for your advice! Today I've played with temperature. Outside is very cold, so I set my heating higher starting from early morning with 2 hours autolyze (made the leaven yesterday evening). The bread is now cooling down. The smell in the house is incredible. I am looking forward to try it...

dedo's picture

here is a little fella'. 66% hydration, 100% white flour. The sourness went rapidly down comparing to my previous loaf. Very interesting this week for me.

dedo's picture

Hello, I've got another question. Now it is about the gluten. It is hard to find information nowadays because when I type "gluten" to Google I always gives thousands of "gluten-free" recipes.

Well, everyone recommend stretch-and-fold technique instead of mixer kneading for sourdough breads. And my question is: Why? What would happen if I let it being kneaded by the mixer?


Many thanks in advance!

MTloaf's picture

A mixer is a step away from truly made by hand but is a good tool for developing gluten. Mixing times can vary depending  on the amount of water and type of flour.  It is possible to over mix and end up with a tight crumb and dough made by hand has a better chance of being underdeveloped.  Folding develops gluten but also structure by stacking layers. Getting the "feel" for it will get you the results you want.

albacore's picture

It's worth knowing that when you search with Google, you can exclude terms with a - (minus) sign.

So if you search for "gluten -free", you shouldn't get any hits for "gluten free". But you will probably need to add in a more specific search term as well, depending what you are looking for.


MTloaf's picture

Smell you starter along the way. At first it will smell like flour and water then fruity as it nears the peak and then more like vinegar as it falls. Feeding a small percentage of whole grain flour to a starter will increase activity.