Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 10, 2007 09:02 PM

Sourdough bread with citric acid

I've read that you can boost the sour flavor of homemade sourdough by adding citric acid to the dough. Has anyone tried this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've never tried it, but I've heard that some commercial bakers use citric or acetic acid (vinegar) in their bread, which supposedly makes an inferior product. I think real sourdough is made sour by lactic acid produced by bacteria in the starter culture, so I don't know if citric acid has the same taste as lactic acid.

    I suppose you can try it and see if you like it; bread is cheap to make. I make sourdough that is plenty sour with nothing but starter, flour, water, and salt.

    1. Citric acid will add extra pucker to your sourdough bread, but the flavor is less complex that what you will get with a sour starter. Also, citric acid is frequently used as a dough conditioner in commercial bread making--giving the dough more elasticity and a longer shelf life.

      For home use, keep in mind that citric acid is VERY powderful stuff. Sift it into your dry ingredients, and use only very little--like 1/8 tsp per 4 c flour/starter--for your first try.

      1. I know this is an old thread, but if anyone finds this with a Google search, here's my experience.

        You can add citric acid to real sourdough bread or to fake sourdough bread. It adds to the sour taste the same way it does for sour candy. It does not add to the sourdough "sour" smell. There is no smell added by citric acid, just sour taste. Natural sourdough will add the smell. A fake sourdough loaf will not smell sour from the citric acid, it may pick up a sour smell if vinegar or buttermilk/yogurt is also used.

        I use 1/3 teaspoon of citric acid to 3 1/4 cups of flour to enhance sourdough taste. You probably can go up to 1/2 teaspoon per 3 1/4 cups. If you use more than that, you risk weakening the gluten of the bread, which will affect how high it will rise. Using more also risks slowing down the sourdough or regular yeast, making the bread take longer to rise.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Antilope

          antilope, if i really like sourdough bread but i am not (and won't become) a bread baker, would it make any sense to put some citric acid in baked things that i DO make, like multigrain biscuits, or pie dough, or pancakes or popovers? --for a sourdough-like flavor? just curious what you think. thx!

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            You can use citric acid in combination with buttermilk or yogurt and a little vinegar (I would use cider vinegar) to a create faux sourdough taste and aroma in pancakes, waffles, English muffins, biscuits, etc. It's not as good as the real thing, but the real thing is difficult to achieve.

            Walmart carries Ball brand Citric Acid (Sour Salt) for home canning. It comes in a 7.5 oz spice bottle with a lime green label. $2.97