My sourdough is too sour. What should I do?

Sourdough bread tasted great and is better for you. But have you ever had sourdough that was just too sour? There could be several reasons your sourdough is too sour for your taste. I will go over six things you can do to reduce the acidity or increase it if that is what you want to do.

1. Fermenting Time for the Sourdough

The longer you ferment the dough, the sourer your bread will be.  To get a fully fermented dough you need to ferment for about 6 to 8 hours. This will give you a mild sourness, but a fully fermented loaf. To increase the sour flavour, you need to ferment for longer. Some types of bread are fermented for 2 to 3 days to get that strong flavour favoured by so many people, including me. 

2. The attributes of the mother, are determined by how often it is fed and how old it is.

The attributes of the mother will also impact the sourness of the final bread. This quality is determined by two things.

(a) How often do you feed the mother? The more often you feed the mother. The milder the acid will be. The longer the mother goes between feeding, the more acetic acid it will produce.

(b) How old the mother is? The older the mother, the sourer the bread will be. A mother takes a few months to fully develop and create a loaf that is more acidic. This is usually what people are looking for. However, if you like a milder flavour, you can retire the older mother when she becomes too sour for you and start a new batch. Our sourdough culture comes in a packet enough to make 20 mothers. If you started a new one every two to three months, you would have minder bread and a packet that would last you about three years.   

Sourdough Mother

3. Don’t use rye flour 

Rye flour gives you increased acetic acid production and a sourer loaf. If you want to keep it mild, then don’t add any rye to your recipe.  I love the sour flavour, so sourdough rye is one of my favourites. 

4. Adding ingredients

If you add ingredients such as milk, oils or butter to your recipe, it will give you a milder flavour and a softer texture. This is a great idea if you are trying to phase out regular bread for a more healthy option in your house, but the family is not quite on board.

5. Don’t mix in the hooch

Sometimes you get hooch forming on top of your sourdough mother. This forms when the mother runs out of food. This hooch is sour so if you mix it back in you get that sour flavour in the bread. If you do not want the sour flavour, pour it off instead of mixing it in.

6. Ferment in a warm spot in your kitchen

The longer you ferment your dough in a warmer spot, the sourer the final bread will be. It will also prove faster and milder. Conversely, if you want to increase the sourness, you could prove the dough in the fridge. It would take much longer but more acid will be produced in that extended fermentation time.

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8 Replies to “My sourdough is too sour. What should I do?”

  1. put a pinch of baking soda into the hooch before making the dough. do not contaminate the remaining hooch with bicarb. it is only to be used just for a fresh loaf process. it takes the Wang down a bit. do not overdo the bicarb. it is a guesswork amount. start with less. experiment.

    1. Emma,

      I have never tried this. You can pour off the hooch before using the starter, which will reduce the sourness, but adding bicarb should cut the acid as well, it being alkaline. Interesting idea. Thanks Emma.

  2. I suspect this was the original impetus for making old-fashioned English crumpets, when you forget about a a big batch of sourdough, and it has fermented too long and it’s very sour. Just mix in some water and a generous amount of baking soda, stir it up let it sit for five minutes at a little more flour and then poured in the crumpet rings. It comes out perfect, no sour flavor at all.

    If you thin it out with a little more water, mix in the baking soda, wait five minutes, then you can make sourdough pancakes they don’t taste that sour either. The baking soda is quite useful for rescuing a large batch of overly sour sourdough. I suspect one can make Irish soda bread in a similar way with the dough. I haven’t tried it yet though.

  3. I don’t like sour taste in bread. I did try few things and the best is when you measure out starter and water I sprinkle tiny amount of bicarbonate into it . Since then I never have sour bread

    1. I love the sour flavour myself, but if you don’t and this works for you, great. That way you are getting the health benefits of sourdough in any case.

  4. Good morning Valerie,
    I was watching one of your videos and in it you said where you get your flour from. I cant find it again and was wandering
    if you would tell me please. I live south east qld.
    regards Sherry

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