Flavor change in sourdough
Posted: 01 March 2012 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  1
Joined  2012-01-11

First of all, I hate starting new threads when the answer is probably right under my nose; however, I’m doing it anyway because I simply can’t find a satisfying answer.

Why does the flavor, especially the sour flavor and aroma, of sourdough take a day or two to develop?  I am new to sourdough after several months with my new native starters, and have been eating the bread before it gets sour, apparently.  I have fed and fed, folded and deflated, proofed and retarded but the fresh loaves are very mild.

Fortunately my last batch of two test loaves was too much to devour before bedtime, so I had it left for two days, and it is getting more sour by the hour.

I’m looking for a technical answer, I think.  It is obvious that the acidic components of the bread are developing after the bread has cooled and stood on the counter top for a day or so.  Is this an oxidation process?  Biological?(the bread was 208 degrees F coming out of the oven.) My imagination? Magic?

I have found numerous references to this change, but no explanation so far.

I haven’t been to the actual paper literature yet, except for the Bread Bible,  which is beginning to look like an antique from the stains, notes, inserted page markers, etc.  I love that book by the way.

I would appreciate any hints, references, or even wild guesses at this point.

Posted: 01 March 2012 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Total Posts:  1441
Joined  2008-09-27

I haven’t actually noticed the phenomenon you speak of, but I typically wouldn’t keep the bread for as long as two days.  Let me speculate:

The sourness of sourdough is actually caused by the bacteria in the dough, rather than the yeast.  Regardless, the baking process will kill off both the yeast and bacteria, so they can’t be the source of any increased sourness.  The existing acidity in the bread is due to the presence of acetic and lactic acids, which are diluted in water.  As the water evaporates due to drying of the bread, it seems reasonable that concentrations of these acids would increase.


If error is corrected whenever it is recognized as such, the path of error is the path of truth.

—Hans Reichenbach

Posted: 01 March 2012 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  4698
Joined  2008-04-16

I’ve noticed that bread flavor evolves day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  The main difference I notice, though, is that freshly baked and cooled bread has separate flavors for the crust and interior crumb, while day-old bread smells and tastes more like the crust and loses some of the crumb sweetness, softeness, and fermented flavor.  So in addition to Charles’ astute comment about evaporation, I would say that perhaps as some of the more ethereal flavors leave the bread, there’s less sweetness to offset the acid, so the acid comes forward.

Posted: 02 March 2012 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Total Posts:  681
Joined  2008-01-24

Interesting conundrum. Fortunately acidity is one of the easiest chemical tests to perform. You could acquire some litmus paper and actually measure if the acidity increases.


“This pizza is a symphony of flavors”

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