Wild Sourdough

Wild Sourdough

Wild Sourdough

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The Public Science Lab at NC State University needs your help with this tasty citizen science project.

To make your own sourdough starter, all you need is flour, water, and a little bit of time. Whether you are here because your favorite bakery is currently closed and you need your bread fix, or because you are eager to help make even the smallest progress in our understanding of the microbial world, we are glad you are here!  Regardless, we hope you will follow-along, make your own sourdough starter captured from wild microbes, and share your experience.

The microbial world is still full of mysteries. Some of the answers might be lurking in your kitchen.  We know more about the deep sea than we do about some of the bacteria and fungi that are most important to us, partially because they can be so difficult to study. The microbial communities in sourdough are comparatively easy to grow and study, so understanding sourdough can help us untangle some of the mysteries of the microbial world.

We will guide you through creating a “wild” sourdough starter using only water and flour following a ten-day protocol. If you are curious (and a little ambitious), we are hoping to recruit some folks who want to make more than one starter using different flour types or using the same flour type but setting one outside and one inside your home.

Once you have made your starter we will ask you to observe it and record some observations about its aroma and how fast it rises. You will submit these data through a short online questionnaire.