If you have ever been to San Francisco, California (where it seems like every restaurant serves sourdough bread), or to many other parts of the world where it is a staple, then you have experienced the distinctive tangy taste of sourdough bread! The taste is what makes sourdough bread unique. But have you ever wondered where that taste comes from?
It turns out that sourdough bread represents a centuries-old technology for preserving and storing yeast for long periods of time, and it is this technology that creates the amazing flavor. Today we buy yeast as a powder in nice foil packets at the grocery store, but centuries ago there were no grocery stores (and no foil, for that matter). People cultured yeast themselves and kept it alive using a medium called sourdough starter. Bakers who use a starter today are using this old but still-useful technology. In fact, some batches of starter have themselves been around for decades, passed from friend to friend or generation to generation!
In this edition of How Stuff Works, you will learn how sourdough starter works and how it helps make a loaf of sourdough bread. We'll tell you how you can make your own traditional starter, and give you a basic recipe for sourdough bread as well. When you get done, you will look at sourdough bread in a whole new way!