Is sourdough wild yeast?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

Sourdough is made using wild yeast, which is different from the commercial yeast typically used in baking. Let me explain in more detail.

When you make sourdough, you create a mixture of flour and water and let it sit at room temperature. Over time, the natural yeasts present in the environment start to colonize the mixture. These yeasts are wild and naturally occurring, hence the term “wild yeast.”

The wild yeast in sourdough starter is usually a combination of different strains of yeast, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida milleri. These yeast strains are naturally present in the air, on the surface of grains, and even on our hands. When you create an environment that is favorable for their growth, they thrive and multiply in your sourdough starter.

The wild yeast in sourdough starter differs from commercial yeast in a few ways. Firstly, wild yeast is more diverse, as it consists of multiple strains. Commercial yeast, on the other hand, is usually a single strain of yeast that has been cultivated and selected for its specific characteristics.

Secondly, wild yeast tends to work more slowly compared to commercial yeast. This is because wild yeast is not as efficient at consuming sugars and producing carbon dioxide as commercial yeast. The slower fermentation process of sourdough gives it its distinct flavor and texture.

It’s worth noting that sourdough starter also contains bacteria, specifically lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria contribute to the sour flavor of sourdough bread and help create a more stable and balanced fermentation process.

So, while sourdough starter is different from commercial yeast, it is indeed wild yeast. It’s this wild yeast, along with the bacteria, that gives sourdough bread its unique taste, texture, and aroma.