The taste of sourdoughs started to change in the 1920s when fast fermenting commercial yeast was developed to speed the leavening of bread doughs. the new yeast did a good job of leavening but for unknown reasons the flavor and crumb of sourdoughs were lost for the next 80 years. Professional bakers like it since it shortens mixing time and increases profits. Home bakers strongly dislike the loss of flavor.
In an attempt to recover that flavor 5 years ago, home bakers tried using slow fermenting natural leavens and stopped using commercial yeast. They were highly successful and completely recovered the lost flavor. They named it the “New Odyssey” which is now reaching home bakers around the world. Authentic sourdoughs are, indeed, on their way back.
Sourdoughs International, SDI, is a family business started 35 years ago by Ed and Jean (now deceased) Wood on a mountain top near Cascade, Idaho. They grow and harvest 17 authentic sourdough cultures they collected from various sites around the world. Ed has developed new methods to increase the concentration of sourdough organisms in every ounce of culture packaged for home bakers. They also package cultures in much larger amounts up to 10 pounds for professional bakers.
The list and place of origin of the 17 cultures are on this website.
A frequent myth on the internet states when a sourdough culture is moved to a new location it eventually becomes contaminated by the local organisms. Ed points out that Sourdoughs International has maintained 17 cultures for over 25 years from all over the world and none of them has ever become contaminated by Idaho’s organisms or even with each other. He verifies that it is, indeed, a myth.
Low temperature, slow fermenting cultures are especially easy for home bakers to use. Proofing instructions are in our current Classic Sourdoughs Book.