Is sourdough sour?

How do I make my sourdough more or less sour tasting?

Its name is not because of the flavor, but from the method of fermenting, or “souring” the dough. The degree of sourness, or tang, can be adjusted two ways. Adjust the starter and adjust the dough.

A. Adjust the starter.

  • To increase the tang, lower the hydration of the starter. Acetic acid produces the tang and is increased in a drier environment. Less water produces more acetic acid.
  • Use whole grain flours. Acids love it.
  • If “hooch” forms, stir it in instead of pouring it out. Hooch is the brown liquid that sometimes forms at the top of the starter.
  • And to decrease the tang, increase the frequency of feedings to decrease the level of acidity.

B. Adjust the dough.

  • To increase the tang, take steps to increase the rising times. Cooler temps slow down rising time, so find a cooler spot for your dough.
  • Punch down the dough once or twice during bulk ferment and before shaping.
  • Final proof should be at room temp (RT=70F) for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge, and if in fridge, bring to RT about one hour before oven. If you use a proofing box, keep these temps in mind. Don’t rush it by warming up the dough too much.
  • To decrease the tang, use more starter to decrease acetic acid production. More starter allows the dough to both rise faster and rise in a cooler environment.

I’m sure there are many other methods for adjusting the taste. If you have some to add to above, please put share them with us in a comment.

 

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