Experts Analyse Sourdough Starters From 4 Continents

Experts Analyse Sourdough Starters From 4 Continents

A study of 500 different sourdough starters from four continents has brought new insight into the environmental factors that contribute to each sourdough starter’s microbial ecosystem.

The Daily Mail reports that the finding shed light on how different types of microbes can influence both the aroma of sourdough and how quickly it rises, which may surprise sourdough aficionados.

Erin McKenney, an assistant professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, and co-author of the study which was published in eLife said: “We didn’t just look at which microbes were growing in each starter, we looked at what those microbes are doing, and how those microbes coexist with each other.”

The 500 samples of sourdough starter were taken from home bakers in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. The samples were DNA sequenced, before being narrowed down to 40 which were representative of the diversity across all 500 samples. These were then cultured and assessed in three different ways.

First, an expert panel of sensory professionals examined the starter’s aroma, which was followed by a chemical analysis of the organic compounds released which allowed the scientists to determine the structure of the aromatic compounds. Finally, the researchers measured how quickly the starter doughs rose.

One immediate finding was that geography was much less of a factor that was originally thought, and many of the findings challenged conventional sourdough wisdom. It was found that some variables that had small effects, when added together, make a big difference to factors such as how old the sourdough starter is, how often it’s fed, and where people store it in their homes.

They found that 29.4 per cent of the starters contained acetic acid bacteria, which plays a powerful role in shaping both the aroma of the sourdough and how quickly it grew. Specifically, the presence of acetic acid bacteria slowed the rise of sourdough and gave it a vinegary smell.

About 70 per cent of the starters contained baker’s yeast, but many people may be surprised that 30 per cent of the sourdough starters didn’t include the yeast most people associate with baking bread, and 70 different types of yeast were found across the 500 samples, showing there is a huge potential variety in sourdough bread.

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By | 2021-02-12T12:51:29+00:00 February 12th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on Experts Analyse Sourdough Starters From 4 Continents

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