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Short vs. Long Fermentation in Sourdough Baking


Traditional sourdough bread recipes involve a long fermentation to achieve a good rise. As the popularity of sourdough resurges, however,  many new recipes for sourdough quick breads have appeared. These recipes often involve sourdough just for flavor, while other leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda are employed for a good rise.

Neither of these methods is necessarily good or bad, but there are some benefits to a both long and short fermentation.

Short Fermentation Advantages:

  • Bread and other baked goods can be ready faster with the addition of other leavening agents such as baking soda and commercial yeast.
  • For baked goods that do not require a lot of rise, using sourdough starter still lends a sour flavor. 
  • Short Fermentation recipes are a great way to use discarded or extra sourdough starter quickly, often in recipes you would be making anyway, such as pancakes and snack breads.


Quick Breads and other Short Fermentation Recipes 

Try some of these recipes when you’re a little short on time or need to use up extra sourdough starter:


Long Fermentation Advantages: 

  • The sourdough has more time to work on the bran of the grain, breaking it down to make it more digestible, and neutralizing phytic acid.
  • Sourdough starter imparts a depth of flavor that cannot be found with just a small addition of sourdough to a bread that uses baking soda for leavening.
  • There is no need for outside leavening agents. Breads can be made with simple ingredients, such as  flour, water, starter, and salt. Natural yeasts provide leavening in long-fermented sourdough.
  • You’ll spend less time working your dough and more time letting the sourdough do the work for you. Because the fermentation helps break down the bran, it also allows the gluten to develop a better web. This web will then trap the gases produced during the rise time, giving you a fluffy loaf with very little kneading.


Traditional Sourdough and other Long Fermentation Recipes

These more traditional recipes work well when you do not need to bake right away or want to enjoy the other benefits of fermented sourdough:


Browse our complete list of sourdough recipes to find more short- and long-fermentation recipes that fit your schedule.

Jar of sourdough starter

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