How does sourdough bread-making work?

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Kathleen Brizgys

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How does sourdough bread-making work?
« on: 12/05/2009 10:30:02 »
Kathleen Brizgys  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hey Chris,

As always, a big fan of your show. I am a biology teacher in Oregon, in the US. I am just getting ready to talk about bacteria tomorrow, and was thinking of how sour-dough bread products get their tangy taste from bacteria.

This is relevant to me, as I just whipped up some sour-dough pancake batter last night to be enjoyed by my husband and I this morning. The pancakes were deliciously tangy and rose wonderfully overnight; the only problem is, I didn't need to add any kind of bacterial culture to the batter. In fact, the batter required yeast, which is of course a fungus. So how did the sour taste come about?

Did something the yeast were doing encourage a bacterial culture, or did the sour taste come directly from the yeast, in which case this was a sort of false-sour-dough and not the real thing?

Kathleen Brizgys

What do you think?


Offline JP

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How does sourdough bread-making work?
« Reply #1 on: 12/05/2009 16:34:53 »
There's wild yeast and wild bacteria all over the flour and everything else you use to make the bread.  When baking non-sour bread, you bake it before the wild microoganisms have a chance to get going.  Particular bacteria and yeast that might be doing the work are lactic acid producing bacteria,
or wild yeasts, such as Brettanomyces: