It’s Sourdough September!

Refresh your Sourdough bread lingo this September.Whether you are a professional or wannabe beginner, you know that making sourdough is both art and science.

Methodologies abound to achieve success but knowing the vocabulary helps with the numerous nuances and supports your journey into the sourdough community.

If you’re practicing the recipe you used in class, the following lingo will guide your steps through the amazing world of sourdough bread this September.

Freshly baked sourdough loaf

The Sourdough A-Z


A is for Activate

Activate it is often used in conjunction with hydrating or feeding your starter and it means you need to create your own feeding regime. Look after your starter and it will look after you.

B is for Bacteria

Bacteria are present in the leaven after a couple of days. Lactobacillus is bacteria that produces lactic acid in sourdough bread.

C is for Crumb

Crumb is the texture of the inside of your loaf. The bigger the hole the more likely carbon dioxide has done its job.

D is for Dough

Dough is the mixture of flour water starter and salt. It is the stiff mixture that is worked by hand.

E is for Elasticity

Elasticity is the ability of your dough to hold its shape. The more fermentation that has occurred, the more elasticity your dough will have. Elasticity can be lost if over fermentation occurs. The more protein in your flour, the more elasticity you will achieve and it helps the final shaping of the dough. If your dough loses elasticity it will become dense.

F is for Feeding

Feeding refers to additional flour given to your starter. If you keep your starter at room temperature, be sure to feed it in a timely manner. If in the fridge, then once a week.

F is for Flour

Flour is ground grained or milled grain. There are many flours used in Sourdough bread but the most commonly used is strong bread flour.

F is for Fresh Starter

Fresh starter marks the beginning of new life. It starts with your flour and water. It’s yours to feed and look after.

F is for Fermentation

The fermentation process happens in steps. It generally starts when kneading is completed and takes place at room temperature. Check the recipe for the time allowed, it’s generally between 4 and 12 hours. Fermentation can be short or long.
Long fermentation (8-24 hours) is an option if you are prepared to wait for your bread. Long fermentation will give you a tangier taste and will reward you with even healthier bread. Please note that this does not mean you need to increase the amount of your starter!
Short fermentation process (3-8 hours)is great for sunny weather conditions and for recipes with a greater quantity of starter, as used in class. The final output tends to be less tangy.

H is for Hooch

Hooch is liquid and ethanol which collects on top of the starter and needs to be poured out to prevent a bad smelling starter. Look for an alcoholic or nail polish smell.

G is for Gluten

Gluten is very important in bread making and no less in sourdough bread. It is the protein that gives bread the elasticity needed to make bread good. Coeliacs should opt for gluten free sourdough bread.

K is for Kneading

This is the process of getting the flour to develop gluten on a floured surface to make an elasticated dough.

L is for Lactobacillus

Lactobacillus is the bacteria that produces lactic acid. Lactic acid gives sourdough bread its characteristic tang. It helps the dough create carbon dioxide in the fermentation steps.

M is for Mother Culture

Mother Culture is an alternative name for starter.

M is for Maintenance

Maintenance of your starter involves a feeding regime to keep it alive and healthy. Your starter is a live organism that will consist of yeasts, bacteria and other microorganisms.

O is for Oven Spring

When baking your sourdough keep an eye on the oven temperature. The yeast can continue to survive up to 140 degrees. Before then, the dough continues to expand. If your bread does not spring it might be because of the initial hydration, the length of the fermentation process or the gluten development.

P is for Proofing

Proofing is the stage before the dough is placed in the oven and you might see the final rise of the dough in this stage.

R is for Resting

Resting is an important part of bread making. After kneading, the gluten needs to rest and relax to kick start the fermentation phase.

S is for Slashing

Slashing is the process of slightly cutting into the bread before putting it into the oven. This is a good way to sign your bread and also helps the bread breathe in the oven without cracking in an unsightly way.

S is for Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter is the star of the show. It is a mixture of flour and water and contains yeast, bacteria and other microorganisms and it is used to leaven bread.

Sourdough starter in a jar.

Y is for Yeast

Yeast is found in flours and is a key ingredient in sourdough starters. Yeast and bacteria feed off starch and oxygen to create carbon dioxide and as a result, carbon dioxide is trapped in the dough during fermentation and eventually creates a risen dough.


If you interested in learning more about Sourdough and how to make it, why not join one of our classes? You can find more information and book a place here.

You might also like to listen to our podcast dedicated to Sourdough September or read our recent blog about What is real bread?

Greenwich Pantry are pleased to support sourdough September organised by Sustain. Our friends at Sustain help individuals and micro bakers learn and appreciate the importance of keeping the skills of bread making honest in our society.

Find more information about sourdough bread and it’s growing community here: www.sustain.org

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