2021 journal article
A review of sourdough starters: ecology, practices, and sensory quality with applications for baking and recommendations for future research
The practice of sourdough bread-making is an ancient science that involves the development, maintenance, and use of a diverse and complex starter culture. The sourdough starter culture comes in many different forms and is used in bread-making at both artisanal and commercial scales, in countries all over the world. While there is ample scientific research related to sourdough, there is no standardized approach to using sourdough starters in science or the bread industry; and there are few recommendations on future directions for sourdough research. Our review highlights what is currently known about the microbial ecosystem of sourdough (including microbial succession within the starter culture), methods of maintaining sourdough (analogous to land management) on the path to bread production, and factors that influence the sensory qualities of the final baked product. We present new hypotheses for the successful management of sourdough starters and propose future directions for sourdough research and application to better support and engage the sourdough baking community.