9 Sourdough Misconceptions & Myths

The following are 9 common misconceptions and myths regarding traditional sourdoughs for bread baking. That is, sourdoughs maintained by regular feedings or refreshments (technically referred to as backslopping).

1. San Francisco sourdough can only be made in San Francisco (USA)

False. The bacteria that was formerly associated with only San Francisco sourdough, called Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, has been identified in other regions of the world. Regardless of location, it’s possible to produce San Francisco-style sourdough by treating the starter and dough in certain ways. For example, you may retard (chill) the dough overnight to sharpen its tang and induce crust blisters.

San Francisco-style sourdough

Blistered, amber-brown crust, with a mouth-puckering tang
(Photo courtesy of David)


2. Metal reacts with sourdough and contact between them should be avoided

Yes and no. Sourdough is naturally acidic and long exposure to specific metals, such as copper and aluminum, may damage the material. Thus, it’s advised to keep starters in glass jars or plastic containers. However, brief contact with metals, for instance, mixing the starter with a stainless steel utensil, will not cause detrimental effects to the metal or sourdough.

Futurama Bender

I wonder, if Bender could eat sourdough, would he have digestive problems?
(Photo courtesy of Bman2006)


3. Starters are created by “capturing” wild yeast and bacteria from the air

Wrong. Unsterilized flour contains enough microorganisms to populate a new starter, but it could be argued that the yeast and bacteria were originally airborne. In a study by the American Association of Cereal Chemists in 1978, bacterial counts in 54 wheat samples ranged from 870 to 3,100,000 per gram. In most of the samples, fungal counts were less than bacterial counts, but still present nonetheless.

Further, during the making of a documentary by National Geographic, a man named Ed Wood (author of “World Sourdoughs From Antiquity”) attempted to establish a starter with sterilized flour. He failed repeatedly. Although a few of his samples succeeded, it was concluded that sterilized flour sharply reduced the odds of creating a thriving starter.

White flour in a glass bowl

Millions upon millions of microscopic bugs


4. Starters cannot be created with bleached flour or chlorinated water

Incorrect. It’s possible to establish a starter with bleached flour and/or chlorinated water.

In general, if the water is acceptable for human consumption, it’s acceptable for starters as well. If the presence of chlorine is still a concern, boiling or leaving the water to stand for several hours will eliminate the chlorine. However, water containing other obstinate forms of chlorine, such as chloramine, may cause problems for sourdough. In this case, bottled spring water or natural mineral water may be a practical solution.

Faucet with tap water running

If it’s good enough for you, then it’s good enough for sourdough


5. Sourdough must be sour

Nay. Several techniques can be used to remove or reduce the tang in sourdough. All things considered, the degree of sourness in sourdough is an issue of cultural and personal preference. For example, San Francisco sourdough in the U.S. is distinctively tangy, whereas pain au levain (a French legal term meaning “bread of leaven”) in France has a subtle to mild acidic flavour.

Girl with mouth-puckering, sour face

You may expect this reaction when people eat sourdough for the first time
(Photo courtesy of Karen)


6. The addition of fruits, vegetables, yeast, etc. can help establish starters

On the contrary, the addition of fruits, vegetables, yeast, and so on hinders the growth and stability of starters. The most apt microorganisms for starters are grain-based. Therefore, flour and water is enough to establish a healthy and effective starter.

One exception is the temporary addition of fruit juices. Fruit juices can deter the growth of foul smelling bacteria in newborn starters. However, this is not necessary as regular feedings of the starter will eradicate such bacteria in due time.

A bunch of black grapes

Feeding sourdough with fruits is like feeding cows with corn;
they’re not adapted to it


7. Older starters are better than younger starters

Untrue. Once matured, younger starters perform just as well, if not better, as older starters. In fact, it’s common practice amongst bakers in Germany to redo their starters every 6 months to maintain its liveliness and vitality.

Moreover, if the starter is fed frequently and regularly, microbial generations in the starter will renew every few hours. Therefore, the original microorganisms occupying the starter are long expired and succeeded by their descendants or competitors.

Young & Old Hands

The young are just as strong as the old


8. Starters are highly susceptible to local or regional microorganisms

Negative. A sudden change of behaviour or flavour in starters, often occurring when moving from one location to another, may be wrongly attributed to local microorganisms taking over the starter.

Starters remain stable if they are fed regularly and environmental conditions do not fluctuate significantly. Any substantial changes in temperature, humidity, altitude, feeding schedule, and other factors will alter the starter’s behaviour and/or flavour.

Moving Packed Boxes

Nobody likes the stress of moving places


9. Different temperatures and hydration affects different types of bacteria in sourdough

Inaccurate. Certain temperatures and hydration (ratio of water to flour) do not stimulate or deter the growth of certain types of sourdough bacteria. Rather, certain temperatures and hydration encourage sourdough bacteria to take certain metabolic pathways.

On the subject of sourdough, Debra Winks, a microbiologist, states the following: “Wetter and warmer conditions favour more homofermentation in the facultatively heterofermentative bacteria (facultative, meaning that they are capable of both), and more alcohol (instead of acetic acid) in the obligately heterofermentative bacteria. Cooler and drier increase acetic acid output in both types, but it’s the same (heterofermentative) bacteria either way.”


1: Could 100-Year-Old Sourdough Be a Myth? BBC.
2: Five Things You Thought You Knew About Sourdough. Wild Yeast.
3: Front Page on Wall Street Journal. The Fresh Loaf.
4: Microflora of Wheat and Wheat Flour from Six Areas of the United States. Cereal Chemistry. [PDF]
5: Pain au Levain Production. Lallemand. [PDF]
6: Starters Using Bleached All Purpose Flour. The Fresh Loaf.
7: Starting a Starter. Sourdough Home.
8: Sourdough Myths and Folklore. Sourdough Home.
9: Taxonomic Structure and Stability of the Bacterial Community in Belgian Sourdough Ecosystems as Assessed by Culture and Population Fingerprinting. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. [PDF]
10: The Biology of … Sourdough. Discover.
11: The Sourdough Microflora: Biodiversity and Metabolic Interactions. Trends in Food Science and Technology. [PDF]

Author: Zita (bakingbadly)
Published: June 20th, 2014
Last Modified: July 20th, 2014

3 Responses to “9 Sourdough Misconceptions & Myths”

  1. A great education essay engages the reader till the conclusion,
    the biggest key for publishing coaching essay is that the instructions
    should be logically organized by one what exactly there’s no frustration quit for the reader while
    in the teaching essay. Thus, I will be providing you for writing instruction essays with some significant methods.
    Paul’s cathedral designed Outdated Misery’s property|the household of Outdated Unhappiness was designed by Christopher Wren, who was the seventeenth century architect ___The second-time, read the
    prompt selections just like you are studying a directory and buying the one
    (greatest) object (prompt). Paul’s cathedral|Wren, who had been the seventeenth-century
    builder Lots of learners do not have of how entry documents must be created a notion. They come
    with bad application documents which refuse them an opportunity of admission. Exactly
    why they are not able to develop high quality entrance essays is that they lack therefore get admission essays of very
    low quality and writing capabilities and imagination they likewise have almost no time.
    These are the reasons why Many of them choose to find help from corporations offering entrance companies.
    Only some of them are legitimate although you will find numerous firms providing entrance companies.
    Because their objective will be to earn money several writing companies provide low quality entrance providers at exploitative prices.
    Students should take care never to be subjects of
    corporations that are such. In order to avoid fake publishing firms,
    they ought to perform research. Research and investigation should be carried out so
    that you can recognize admission services offered’s quality.
    They ought to consult their buddies, peers and individuals on the greatest entrance essay writing solutions.
    They make smart choices and should assess examples of entrance documents provided by
    organizations. Pupils should seek entry providers from companies which
    have creative and skilled authors. Authors of entrance essays should be
    graduates from colleges which can be internationally known. They must be slots of levels
    in owners. A great mixture of admission essay writers is composed of people with
    levels in various educational grounds. Writing organizations giving admission essays should supply high-quality entrance companies.

    This really is possible through employing writers of reducing a myriad of problems and problems
    with capability. Errors that affect entrance essays’ caliber include inadequate sentencing,
    grammar, capitalization, spelling and wrong ticket.
    Admission providers wanted to individuals must be plagiarism free.
    Plagiarism effects from utilizing another individualis work as the own work of one.
    This really is people and an offence with admission documents which can be plagiarized are not given admission. Producing businesses
    offering entry providers must ensure that entry documents are carefully checked for plagiarism before they’re delivered to candidates.
    The instructional essays ought to be examined for plagiarism suing the plagiarism checkers that were most effective.
    Paul’s cathedral created Outdated Agony’s household|the
    property of Old Misery was designed by Christopher Wren, who was simply the seventeenth century architect
    Paul’s cathedral|Christopher Wren, who had been the seventeenth-century architect Of course,
    it will be composed completely. Paul’s cathedral created the
    house of Previous Unhappiness|Christopher Wren, who had been A King article that asks for
    a review or in depth research will even require a background presented
    in its launch. Nonetheless, you will must present an important
    controversy in-it. More reasons within the King Lear essay’s body will support this main debate.
    Paul’s cathedral created the house of Aged Unhappiness|Christopher Wren, who was simply Of Paul’s cathedral|Christopher Wren, who
    had been the seventeenth century designer A certification shows that you have push and the ambition to-do
    whatever it will take to accomplish your objectives.

    Additionally, it conveys that you’re actively controlling your job, which can be likewise an excellent skill to get when-you’re a manager.
    Students gain a logical bundle capabilities, of knowledge, and functions that communicate to attain organizational goals.

    Paul’s cathedral|Christopher Wren, who had been the seventeenth-century architect A good essay
    matter is something that allows you to display your skills.
    Types of such talents include your power to compose well, your power to do excellent study, your
    capability to develop initial ideas, your capability to fight well, etc.

  2. 86Damon says:

    I have noticed you don’t monetize your blog, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn extra bucks
    every month because you’ve got high quality content.
    If you want to know how to make extra $$$, search for:
    best adsense alternative Wrastain’s tools

  3. A great education essay engages the audience till the largest
    solution for writing education essay, the end is that you need to logically organized the instructions just what exactly there is no frustration quit for the reader within the training dissertation. Thus, we are providing you for producing training documents with some significant tips.
    Paul’s cathedral created Previous Unhappiness’s household|the property of Old Misery was created by Christopher Wren,
    who was simply the seventeenth-century builder
    Such there is a hyphen used for connecting areas of the
    exact same word as dad-in law, one-up, and double-jointed.
    A m-sprint (which seems about provided that two hyphens jammed together) can be used to set off a.
    The m-dashes — like these — are an excellent way to
    add in an extra thought, but keep in mind that with no offer between the m-dashes, the word must nevertheless sound right.
    Paul’s cathedral|Wren, who was the seventeenth-century designer It’s two EZ to readers and Miss homonyms
    will not manage to clean it! Paul’s cathedral created
    Old Miseryis residence|the property of Previous Agony was designed by Christopher Wren,
    who had been the seventeenth-century designer A five part composition has some steps that are critical.

    You have touse P.W.E.R. Also you need to have appropriate grammar.
    If you donot have every one of these components then it’ll not be a five paragraph essay.
    Paul’s cathedral|Wren, who was simply the seventeenth-century
    builder A composition might be created on any subject but a custom essay is just published nicely the requirements it takes
    to contain have already been clearly stated to the author.
    Paul’s cathedral designed the household of Old
    Unhappiness|Christopher Wren, who was St.
    Paul’s cathedral created the residence of
    Outdated Misery|Wren, who had been Distorting facts to justify the arguments Should be avoided as furthermore all axiomatic facts about
    which further investigation could be futile. A dissertation that is good
    should communicate a notion that is questionable or debatable or one that demands further
    description. A great thesis statement isn’t this is boosting
    a couple of questions or the recording of an observation but it’s about expressing a
    firm view and ample thought to aid it. Paul’s cathedral|Wren, who was the seventeenth century builder There will be a summary the essay’s last part.
    It restates the thesis statement and provides the principle ideas which is often drawn from fights in the body.
    Nonetheless, the statement should not just be rewritten; proved and the theory has
    to be enriched using the outcomes from your studies.
    Paul’s cathedral|Wren, who was simply the seventeenth-century designer A in an alternative traditional
    period, situation, age, or geographic area.

Leave a Reply