Sourdough Bread is Cultured - Made From Wild Yeast

by AngelaJohnson

Sourdough is an American term for bread that is made from a starter (culture) of wild natural yeast; not from modernized yeast found in grocery stores.

This is the way bread was made hundreds and thousands of years ago. The bread rises slowly, which helps helping more probiotic organisms to grow.

Sourdough is a cultured food and more digestible than bread made with standard yeast. Depending on the characteristics of the live sourdough starter, sourdough might or might not have a sour taste.

If you regularly feed your live sourdough starter, you can keep it alive practically forever.

About Sourdough Bread

Wild Yeast vs. Commercial Yeast

loaf of sourdough breadSOURDOUGH BREAD FROM WILD YEAST:

Sourdough is two organisms: wild yeast and bacteria, which makes the grain healthier, easier to digest, and resistant to getting moldy or stale.

Some people have an intolerance to gluten in breads made with ordinary yeast, but can eat sourdough bread with no problem. This is especially true of bread that is allowed to rise at least seven hours. If you have an intolerance to gluten and want to try sourdough, make sure you make or buy TRUE sourdough, made from wild yeast.  


Some commercially made sourdough breads aren't real sourdoughs. They are made with commercial yeast with acetic, malic or fumaric acid added to them, which gives them a sour taste.

An authentic sourdough starter / culture is created by mixing flour and water and exposing the mixture to the air in order to capture wild yeast, or by buying a sourdough starter. Once the starter is established and fed on a regular basis, it can last indefinitely.

There are many different starter yeasts that can be used for making sourdough, depending on the type of wild yeast generated from the air.

Sourdough is used to make loaf bread, of course, but you can also use it to make flavored breads, pita bread, cakes, cookies, English muffins, bread pudding, and much more.

If you can find true sourdough, give it a try or make your own and see how you like it. True sourdough doesn't usually have that much of a sour taste. 

About Sourdough Starters and How to Use Them

sourdough starter fermentingSourdough is created with a natural process and acts as a natural preservative. Commercial yeast is manufactured. With a sourdough starter, you never have to buy yeast again.

A live sourdough starter or culture is created by mixing flour and water and allowing the mixture to sit out to capture wild yeast (preferably by an open window). Adding a small amount of flour and water each week will feed your starter and keep it healthy. Some people keep their starters for decades!

Don’t use freshly ground flour in your sourdough starter. Aged flour works must better. If you have freshly ground flour, place it in a bowl and lightly cover it with a towel. Let the flour sit for several weeks before using it to feeding it to your starter. When you bake your bread, you can use freshly ground flour in your recipe; just not to feed the starter.

The main differences between sourdough starters are the types of flour they were created with (white, rye, whole wheat, etc,) and the various wild yeasts obtained from different geographic regions.

Sourdough Starters that require you to add some powder to each batch are manufactured yeasts and not true sourdough starters.

You really only need one sourdough culture even though there are many types to choose from. A single sourdough culture can be used to make a variety of baked goods (bread, biscuits, pizza dough, biscuits, cookies, etc.) so you don’t really need to maintain than one sourdough starter.

Prepared sourdough starters can be fresh or dried. Fresh sourdough starter is a portion of live, recently fed sourdough. It should be shipped with a cold pack and must be fed as soon as it arrives.

Dried sourdough culture is shipped in a powdered form and can be kept on a shelf (in a cool, dry area) for several months. Dried sourdough culture good to have if you’re very busy or plan to give it as a gift.

Photo by Masa_madre on flickr 

You Can Buy Live Sourdough Starter Online

Check out the Reviews!
Sourdough Starter - Live
Only $6.00

The Science of Sourdough

REAL Sourdough Bread

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Do You Tried Sourdough Bread?

Making a Loaf of Sourdough Bread

a loaf of sourdough breac~~ Your Live Sourdough Starter must be fully active before baking with it.

~~ Your measurements will be more accurate and you'll have more consistent results if you use a scale rather than measuring cups.

~~ Keep your hands wet and use a dough scraper to knead the bread. The dough should be sticky when you start the kneading; if it's not sticky, you have too much flour and will have dry bread.

~~ Knead your dough by hand for 15-20 minutes. If that's a long time for you, it's all right to split the time into two sessions. Knead for 5-10 minutes at a time, take a 15 minute break and then knead again.

~~ Try not to use a mixer for kneading because it heats up the dough too much and home mixers don't activating the gluten in the flour very well. If you must use a mixer, knead the last five minutes by hand.

~~ To determine if you've kneaded enough, take a small piece of dough and keep stretching it until you can see light through it. If the dough breaks before being stretched that thin, knead the dough some more.

~~ When you finish kneading, shape your loaf, cover it and let it sit for at least 4 hours but perhaps even as long as 24 hours (it depends on your specific sourdough starter and temperature around the loaf). Wild yeast in sourdough doesn't rise as quickly as commercial yeast. The rise time affects the sour taste of your bread. A longer rise time produces a more sour bread.

~~ Place the sourdough bread on a baking stone if you have one and heat it in the oven for up to an hour before baking.

~~ Use a cooking thermometer to determine when the bread has an internal bread temperature of 195-210F. The bread will also have a hollow sound when thumped.

~~ Let the bread cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing

Photo from flickr creative commons. 

Updated: 02/02/2015, AngelaJohnson
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Do You Like Freshly Baked Bread?

CruiseReady on 07/01/2015

This is quite an informative article! I don't think making my own is something I would try, as I eat very little bread. But this was still very interesting!

AngelaJohnson on 02/19/2015

frankbeswick - I'm not a nutritionist, but I do read a lot. Our body chemistries are all different -even in the same family, so sourdough might not cause problems for one celiac disease sufferer, but another person might not be able to tolerate it. Make sure to only try TRUE sourdough made with cultured wild yeast and not commercial yeast. I would recommend only trying a small piece of sourdough and wait to see if it affected me.

Although many health problems are hereditary, based on what I read, I think our diet causes problems, too. We eat so differently today than we did 40 or 50 years ago.

One thing our current diet lacks is fermented foods, which includes sourdough, but also yogurt, sauerkraut, etc. We need prebiotics and probiotics to keep our gut (intestines) healthy.

And the wheat and other grains we eat today are not like the ones the last generation or two used to eat. Many people are starting to only eat wheat and other grains that are organic and not genetically modified; or are trying "ancient grains" as a substitute.

This is a good article about discovering celiac disease has increased four-fold in the last 50 years.

frankbeswick on 02/19/2015

Burntchestnut, what are your thoughts on sourdough breads for sufferers from celiac disease?

dustytoes on 02/10/2015

Thanks for the links. I am not gluten-intolerant, but I believe we should all eat less gluten, so this is interesting.

frankbeswick on 02/09/2015

You are right about how people's bodies react differently to different foodstuffs. Even within families there are significant differences.

AngelaJohnson on 02/09/2015

dustytoes, Yes, all wheat sourdough breads contain gluten.

But sourdough bread is made by a long fermentation where good bacteria break down the gluten proteins, reducing the gluten content. Just like some people who are lactose-intolerant can eat yogurt (also fermented), some people who are gluten- intolerant can eat sourdough. But make sure you're trying TRUE sourdough made from a starter and not a sourdough made from commercial yeast.

And each person's body reacts differently to foods and drinks, so what works for one person may not work for another. Try new things in small doses to see if there's any adverse reaction.

Here are two links to articles about sourdough for gluten-intolerant people.

Thanks for asking the question. I'm going to revise this article to add more on this subject.

dustytoes on 02/09/2015

I used to make sourdough bread. I had a jar of starter that I fed and used periodically. It made delicious bread. I didn't know that it could be tolerated by those who are gluten free. Doesn't the flour you add to the starter when making a loaf contain the gluten?

ologsinquito on 02/05/2015

Sourdough bread is delicious. It's good to know you can buy the starter culture online. (What can't you buy online?)

Marie on 02/05/2015

I love freshly baked bread. We have a bread machine although I have made bread by hand many years ago. Never tried sourdough and I'm tempted to give it a try.

AngelaJohnson on 02/04/2015

frankbeseick - I haven't used a bread machine when making sourdough. I just like the process of doing it all by hand and then I bake two or three loaves at once. I think it would be fun to experiment with your bread machine and make good notes on everything you try. As long as you're not adding expensive nuts or dried fruit to your recipe, a failure wouldn't cost too much. And sometimes you get something totally different from what you expected. I've certainly done that when I make up a recipe trying to use up leftovers.

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