If you’re interested in baking sourdough bread, there are a few terms and processes you should be familiar with:
Sourdough Starter – A mixture of flour and water that is fermented by wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, and used to leaven sourdough bread.
Wild Yeast – Yeast that occurs naturally in the environment and is present in the sourdough starter.
Lactic Acid Bacteria – Bacteria that produce lactic acid during fermentation, which gives sourdough bread its characteristic tangy flavor.
Feeding – Adding fresh flour and water to the sourdough starter to keep it healthy and active.
Hydration – The ratio of water to flour in the sourdough starter, usually expressed as a percentage.
Discard – The portion of the sourdough starter that is removed before feeding to maintain the right ratio of flour and water.
Active starter – A sourdough starter that is bubbling and has a pleasant, sour smell.
Inactive Starter – A sourdough starter that is not bubbling and has a funky or off smell.
Hooch – A layer of liquid that can form on the surface of the sourdough starter if it hasn’t been fed in a while.
Fermentation – The process by which yeast and bacteria break down carbohydrates in the dough, producing carbon dioxide gas that causes the bread to rise.
These are just a few of the terms and materials you should be familiar with to get started on your sourdough journey. As you continue to explore the world of sourdough, you’ll likely encounter and adopt many more terms and techniques to help you grow as a sourdough baker! Check back here for new Sourdough Glossary Volumes!
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