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Why is sourdough called 'sourdough'? Is it because it is sour to the taste, or for a different reason?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, a well cultured sour dough is actually sour.

The bacteria in the culture, lactobacilli, emit lactic acid as a waste product of their metabolism, making the dough acidic and sour.

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Frequent feeding keeps the Yeast growth ahead of the Lactobacilli, creating a milder flavor. Extending the feeding (missed feeding) lets the Lactobacilli growth get ahead of the Yeast, and the flavor increases in sour. Once the sour has increased, the Yeast growth may never get ahead of the Lactobacilli, so someone has to feed the starter, if you want that mild flavor and a vacation or hospital stay. –  Optionparty Nov 14 '13 at 14:13

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