Reader Liz writes:
I have a related question. Does the age of the starter have anything to do with the sourdough flavor? It seems like old starters are always highly touted – is that just because it’s impressive to have maintained a culture for so long or is it possible that the conditions of the starter will, over time, become more hospitable for the more flavorful, higher acid-producing lactobacilli?
Hey Liz! I’m not a bread microbiologist, but it’s believed by many bakers that like people, the old the starter gets the more “like itself” it becomes. Which is to say, that after several months bacteria and yeast populations of various kinds become accustomed to the environment (the amount of water you add, the minerals in that water, etc., etc.) and you get a starter that’s got a character that’s unique. it makes sense to me. True food scientists, feel free to weigh in!