Sourdough Breads

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Sourdough breads get their name from the fact that both the dough and bread are acid. The acidity, along with other distinctive flavor components, is produced by bacteria that grow in the dough along with various yeasts. The bacteria often include some of the same lactic acid bacteria that make milk into yogurt and buttermilk. The leavening for this kind of bread begins as a “wild” starter, a mixture of whatever microbes happened to be on the grain and in the air and other ingredients when flour was mixed with water. The mixture of yeasts and bacteria is then perpetuated by saving a portion of the dough to leaven the next batch of bread.