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Ascorbic acid | Sourdough Companion

Ascorbic acid

 ASCORBIC ACID….why use it?


Probably the first thing to clear up is that everybody is free to use non injurious additives in their bread. This is done by all the major bread making companies (bakeries) and is the chemicalised factory bread of commerce. In this piece, Im attempting to examine the use of ascorbic acid in craft/artisan bread-making, and these are my opinions, which aren’t designed to convert anybody, but simply open the question for discussion. There are obvious correspondences with the use of chemicals in food per se.

There is no “dogma” of conformity associated with the questioning of the use of ascorbic acid in bread-making. It is more in the realms of truth of information, because some don’t publically admit that they use it, and a questioning of its use is simply for valid reasons in the same way one can and needs to question the use of any chemical additives to food. It is stated that to experiment with it is harmless, and one must agree, but this is different to using it as a matter of practice in breadmaking, especially that which claims some lineage or quality which distinguishes it from ordinary factory bread.

It is curious the amount of home or craft bakers who want to try ascorbic acid in their bread because it supposedly makes the bread “better”.

Even more curious is the amount of craft bakers who maintain some claim to “authenticity”/ “tradition” and who use organic flours, but regularly add ascorbic acid to their bread.

Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C , which is a complex of bioflavonoids, including ascorbic acid. Ascorbic is an isolate of vitamin C . Vitamin C does not work in the same way in a bread dough as does ascorbic acid, which has its own function. Therefore there can be no claim to ascorbic acid being “natural”, eventhough the latter term is devalued by modern marketing, it has an inherent meaning which clearly excludes chemical refining. The ascorbic acid generally used is not even isolated from naturally occurring vitamin C. It is an analogue which is manufactured by chemical means usually from glucose which is chemically isolated from white refined sugar. It would seem reasonable that this sort of provenance would preclude its use in any bread which claims some lineage or association with tradition or which claims status as healthful/wholesome.

Usually, labelling a bread as organic/traditional/authentic, or giving it a traditional title could be construed to mean that the bread is made according to some form of lineage, which could presumably include ingredients and method….such as sourdough. That ascorbic acid is a modern chemical isolate, would seem to preclude its use in any breads which claim some form of lineage or historical quality.

A “whats the problem” approach by a user is actually a type of ignorance, as this sort of baker clearly doesn’t care about their product enough to understand the process or the nature of the addirtive they claim there is too much “fuss” about. This sort of baker would clearly use any means and any method to sell their product and are outside of the scope of this article, which they would probably not be lucid enough to consider anyway. Here, im more referring to those bakers who have some craft and claim some lineage for their bread, but appear to have an ambivalence about the use of additives. Therefore Im attempting to put the use of ascorbic acid in some sort of perspective or context so that its use is more clearly examined…which surely cant be a bad thing?

Unquestionable is that Ascorbic acid is a chemical additive which it is claimed “improves” the bread or makes “better” bread. What do we mean by “improve” as this term has been subsumed by the bread industry as a synonym for “additive”. How does it make the bread “better”…this is a value laden term, which has to be assessed by technical and organoleptic criteria. As the recommended quantity to use is really tiny, it is easy for the baker to use too much, which is easy to taste, especially in a sourdough or for that matter any bread which should taste of the traditional criteria, but too much ascorbic leaves a noticeable taint.

That it is “better” in some way is perhaps a misnomer, validly replaced by “convenient”- for the baker who then doesn’t really have to engage with the process, but can rely on the chemical to do it for them….which is the antithesis of the idea of craft (artisan/non-factory) baking.

Also claimed is that “it completely disappears” in the process and leaves no residue. In this case it is the only substance in the history of chemistry which does so…even the effect on the dough as technically observed is a legacy whether detectable or not…and  certainly the taint left when too much is used proves that it does not disappear magically, but has left a discernable residue for those who can taste.

As the important ingredient in the Chorleywood bread making process which was developed to make wonder bread, it is seemingly incongruous to use it in a “craft” bread or a bread which has a claim to some lineage or other quality…..using it brings such bread back into line with the chemicalising of food/bread characteristic of the chemical modernity of the 1950`s, now in disrepute as so many additives have been withdrawn as new knowledge reveals them to be injurious in some way for example, potassium bromate.

It would seem reasonable to assume that the aim of craft bakers is to make additive free bread, which was certainly the initial impetus to break away from the factory bakeries and make food which had a new quality, untainted by additives. It would appear ignorant not to realise this, and a “no-brainer” to put additives in bread which claims to be different from chemicalised bread….no matter what claims are made to the contrary, bread which contains ascorbic acid is “chemicalised”.

With regard to tradition or authenticity, that the French legal definition of for example a “baguette de tradition Francaise”, excludes the use of ascorbic acid, would appear to indicate its use is not within the sphere of “traditional” or “authentic”. Some bakers will shrug off concerns about the use of AA in breadmaking by saying that French bread makers use it…as if this was a claim to some form of authenticity.

The news is that French bread is as awful as anybodys bread, and for example the French are the biggest consumers of McDonalds stuff outside the USA, so the claim or perceived superiority of “French bread” is spurious, eventhough the French have a lineage of good bread and concern for good bread, and that authentic bread made in the traditional way is available there…well it is also in the USA, Australia, the UK and other modern economies…the “new” good bread is a world-wide phenomenon and was initiated outside of France, notably in the USA and Australia.

It can be claimed that ascorbic acid affects the sourdough process, so that it is not the same process (or bread) as that used by a baker who does not use ascorbic acid. This is clearly evident…it does change the sourdough process, giving a discernable effect…otherwise it wouldnt be used. Sourdough with ascorbic is not actually sourdough. Chemically, the gluten/gliadin hydrolysing action of the organic acids and enzymes in a sourdough is changed. They no longer break down the gluten/gliadin matrix in the same way, perhaps AA de-activates proteolytic enzymes which would appear reasonable, as their function is to breakdown protein which after all form the structural matrix. This could be crucial for those who eat sourdough because they have a sensitivity to gluten/gliadin., and is proven because this is the noticeable effect of using ascorbic acid…the bread structure (gluten/gliadin matrix) is higher and lighter, in fact barely altered by the fermentation as it should be in an authentic sourdough. In short, bakers use it to stabilise the dough so that it holds on longer and gives greater volume, both of which can be achieved by good craft and the intelligent scheduling of doughs, and with the time–based quantification of the amount of leaven used.

It would actually be more wholesome to add yeast to a sourdough to achieve greater gassing power than to use ascorbic acid, which demonstrates that its use in sourdough is a kind of subterfuge really.

Next question is the desireability of adding chemicals to an age-old process which has been revived to relieve us from the assault of chemicalised food. Seems a misunderstanding of the place of sourdough bread in the scheme of things…..to have in fact lost the plot….which is a kind of ignorance.

This is actually about the greater question of the use of chemicals in food. It is not congruous with the notion of good wholesome food, which often breads containing ascorbic are claimed to be, and which is definitely claimed for sourdough.

Just because ascorbic has no proven ill-effect, it doesn’t make one immediately overtly sick-doesn’t mean much as we now know from the bitter experience of chemicals which were previously used in food…or medicine or the environment for that matter. There is a long list of chemicals which have been previously used in bread, but which are now banned….from the erucic acid containing oils with which tins used to be greased , now known to be carcinogenic, to for example potassium bromate, which is useful to examine.

Bromate was used for decades in bread until its harmful effects were discovered….that it causes kidney damage. Bromate was used because it yields dependable results as it makes stronger and more elastic dough. Alarmingly, ascorbic acid is the chemical chosen in factory processes to replace it, as it performs the same function in bread making, and is itself under suspicion from some authorities…because blatantly obviously, if it has the same effect on dough as bromate, it may well have a similar sort of as yet undetected toxicity?  Interesting is that Britain`s Committee On Toxicology has Ascorbic acid under scrutiny. In any case it is obviously a very powerful substance the use of which should be questioned, and this questioning is not in the manner of an “anti” stand, but as ive said is simply prudent as we are talking about food here, and I re-iterate, food/bread which is often touted as superior to factory bread in some way.

The lyricism and beauty of the baker-as-artisan or craftsman/woman is lost in the use of chemical additives. If there is any art in baking bread, especially sourdough, it is lost by the use of additives to do the job for you. Instead of using craft to achieve good bread, one uses a chemical crutch…almost like an addiction.


Whilst one is not a bio-chemist one has does understand the processes of making commercial synthethised chemical food additives.  (chemical synthesis as it relates to AA ) 

A number of patent's for the production manufacturing of L-ascorbic acid currenty exist, two very popular methods of AA production are :

1/ The western plants use the  Reichstein process this is the process favoured by Roche, Merc and BASF              2/ The Chinese plants generally use the two stage fermenation process.     

The Scottish have developed a a single fermentation process, many other technologies are getting worked on to streamline AA production. India is doing very interesting work in this field.  

Currently one understand's that approx 4/5ths of the global supply fo AA comes out of China from five plants.  

Toxity Report



Modern chemicals cause such angst, just lets all go back to NATURAL FOOD & NATURAL real BREAD. Let's respect nature, in preference to big pharma..!


 Every report you link to says the same - that AA is not toxic. You see "big words" and think that people will be scared off. Morons might.

Personally as I've said I doubt AA in small qtys is going to give you bad health effects, but that isn't my point. But I think that the industrial production of AA is a little different than implied by "we add vitamin C" (making it sound like filtered lemon juice), or "it's produced using bugs in a natural process". The industrial process does involve bugs, but also bleach and acetone. That's not to say either of these things are in the final AA product, but they are used in it's production, and that goes against the grain for what I take SD to be when I buy it (for me, at least, others can decide for themselves). No-one was saying there was any actual TCE in decaffeinated coffee or hop extracts used in beer-production up until around 1980, but they sure as heck banned that. Now this is not to say that industrial AA production should be banned - people can pop pills using the stuff all day long for all I care, I'm just questioning where this stuff should live in artesan sourdough. How much do you think an artesan SD maker would like to outline the industrial production process for AA, including the reactions using sodium hypochlorite and acetone, on their labelling? And if including that full detail would be the slightest bit uncomfortable, isn't that the degree of the spin/deceipt that's occurring?

So, the final product is identical to the AA found everywhere in nature, but you're somehow getting squeamish on your own preconceptions about it being a nasty "industrial' process, being produced in ugly chemical factories... no matter that none of this has any bearing on the final product? That's nothing more than superstition, guilt by association, pure emotion to the exclusion of sense. If you feel that way, who's to stop you? But don't present it as a logical argument, because it's not.

If you reject the perfectly innocent, extensively tested and approved AA in this way, is there anything at all which you will eat? Because much of what you eat and come into contact with every day goes through far more extreme processes than the one you have described.

 Could not care less what people add to bread... Just call it for what it is and be honest about it.. 

Who ever would have thought that honesty in food labelling would be such an hard issue...?? 


Ascorbic Acid is Not Vitamin C (just another view)


Plenty of stuff I will eat, and it doesn't have to be "perfect". All I'm saying is that what I buy when it's represented to me as a traditional artesan product shouldn't includef those industrial processes. On your argument, you would be happy finding out that the micro brewery in that favourite rustic country town had found a supply of TCE-extracted hop bittering agent (because after all the bittering agents in them are identical to using fresh or pelletised hops, or those extracted using liquid CO2 or whatever), and so they were using that in their "all natural beer". Because the ingredients, once you've cooked out all the TCE (as they used to do), are ultimately "the compounds produced in nature". I know I'd be a tad disappointed, but maybe you're no so fussy. Or would you be at all disappointed to find that the artesn potter's mug that you bought had been slip-cast to look as though it had been hand thrown? No discernible material difference in the end product, just a bit of difference in the process of getting there, no?


...you're somehow getting squeamish on your own preconceptions about it being a nasty "industrial' process, being produced in ugly chemical factories... no matter that none of this has any bearing on the final product? That's nothing more than superstition, guilt by association, pure emotion to the exclusion of sense.[/quote]

Given the same feed, there is no material difference between battery and free range eggs. I assume you believe that any consumer who differentiated between the products that ultimately had the exact same composition was exercising nothing more than "superstition, guilt by association, pure emotion to the exclusion of sense"...




Pretty much sums up our different perspectives, I reckon.

There's a clear, quantifiable difference between free range and battery eggs. Under a microscope there is zero difference between AA from a factory and that found in nature. That's my point.

What's the clear, quantifiable differnece in the composition of the end product, given identical feed? (Let's go for battery versus RSPCA-approved barn-laid eggs, where you can guarantee the exact same feed. ) You are basically saying the end makes the means irrelevant. The use of acetone and sodium hypochlorite in the production of AA doesn't matter because it's the exact same stuff as could have been (but wasn't) produced naturally. I'm saying the process is every bit as important as the end product.

So just what do you reckon are the compositional differences between barn-laid and battery eggs?

I have just spent 20 minutes trying to read all of the posts on AA addition to bread. It appears there has been some unnecessary arguing going on here. Let me help to clarify...


"Sourdough" is a process not a list of ingredients, method of shaping dough, type of oven used nor a "label" for bread. It is the ancient method of leavened bread-making using flour, water and salt. It relies on the naturally occurring microorganisms ie: wild yeast - the raising agent and lactobacillus - the decomposer of gluten (and creator of flavours). It involves extended fermentation, which effects the almost total breakdown of protein (gluten) into amino acids. Apart from other scientific facts gathered during the last 120 years, it is simply a process of breadmaking.

You either make Sourdough....or you make some other type of bread. If it is not the method described above, then it is not sourdough.

That's all.....no need to argue about what AA does to you, which seems to have been an enormous distraction in this forum.

If it's Sourdough.....then it is flour, water and salt fermented for greater than 14 hours and baked! It doesn't een matter if you make a fancy looking loaf. It is all in the process and subsequent digestion.

Hope this helps!


I'm not clear what you're saying morpeth sourdough.

If it's that sourdough is purely a description of a process, then yes, I would have thought that was self-evident (though not to the religious crusade mob). The simplest definition of sourdough is pprobably the first sentence from wikipedia "Sourdough is a dough containing a Lactobacillus culture, usually in symbiotic combination with yeasts". You include salt in your definition, but salt is not a necessary part - indeed in parts of the world salt is not included in sourdough. Salt is an additive, used to control and modify the fermentation process (as well as add flavour). 

There seems to be an implication in what you are saying (but it's not clear to me) that adding anything to sourdough turns it into something other than sourdough. That might not be what you mean. I hope not, because of course that would not be logical - adding anything, such as salt (or yes, microscopic amounts of AA), doesn't by definition change the fact that the bread was, is sourdough. To say otherwise would be the equivalent of saying that if you buy a new Audi, and rush out to put new tyres on it, it's no longer an Audi.

As you say "it is simply a process of breadmaking", I take your meaning to be the first interpretation, not the second.

And that I can agree with completely - including that this thread is a furphy, with questionable motives.

Cannot see where Morepeth Sourdough wrote that this thread is a furphy, with questionable motives...  

"And that I can agree with completely - including that this thread is a furphy, with questionable motives." Kymh

Typical PR spin?  Whom has the questionable motives...? Where is the furphy? 

The modern chemical artisan baker and his PR machine and lack of correct advertising/labelling/point of sale information, would have us believe that after 4000years of Real Sourdough, that chemically enhanced bread is the same of traditonal sourdough? 

Kymh.... are you related or connected or work for an artisan bakery that uses AA in its bread..? A very well known bakery?? 


 ...that I work for a bakery....

What's that, a retake on a retake on a take? 

First you accused me of "misleading my customers", then you said you always knew I was an amateur baker, and now I work for a bakery again? What are you, a goldfish?

I actually run a successful business in a field a very long way from artisan bakery. What about you - who are you today?

Just asked if.??. not stated that you did...? But then again you seem to be the one re-writing what everyone else states.  Me as I have said I am a professional baker that bakes real sourdough, that has not changed in years, although you seem to think that I am JohnD or a goldfish or something I am not.  

Simple, humble baker that just wants to bake decent Real bread Real Sourdough and have an honest industry with honest advertising and labelling/ingreident list laws.  


Stefen/Stefan/John, I take absolutely nothing you say at face value - fact and falsity appear to be the same in your mind, which is why you spread so much disinformation about AA and everything else.  

The implication was very clearly that I was associated with "a very well known bakery" (your words exactly). To deny that implication is blatant dishonesty, as you well know.

You have been given the opportunity many times to come clean about who you really are, but for increasingly obvious reasons refuse to do so. Until you do that, you just come across as a complete fraud, someone who goes out of his way to malign some of the best real bakers in this industry, the kind of My Way is The One True Way nutter to be found in abundance at any religious or quasi political cult.


No implication, just a simple question? Is that so hard to comprehend.

Just wanted to know if you were in anyway conencted to the industry, vested interest or otherwise, as I am aware that some bakery's in the past have used the old PR trick of a "donkey" and "donkey debate contribution/questions, to lift their profile and defend their ways.  

Not a thing is dishonest about baking real bread, plenty is dishonest about those who let people think they do whilst adding a known modern chemicalised bread improver. 





KymH, you have bleeted on post after post about whom Davo, JohnD and Myself are or are not, have bullied and abused and questioned identities... now mysteriously you change your handle in your posts from KymH to Panfresca?   Bless you...!

 Agreed, many of us have said this and campaigned for years 

Sourdough is very simple 





Anything else in bread is simply a modern chemicalised bread and therefore not Soughdough by any definition. 

TASTE  & *LOOKS* TEST  (now who's a sexy loaf..??)

Interesting to note that recently along with some colleagues (baker's/business owner's) from the Natural Real Bread side of the argument, we went out on a road trip in and around Melbourne and bought a number of loaves from various Artisan Sourghdough bakeries that contained AA but no point of sale material or word from the shop assistant's stated that, nor did any labeling. We also bought some natural sourdough loaves for comparison.   

When we did a crust/crumb/flavour test and sampling with a comparison bake against bread made from only Water - Organic Flour - Sea Salt - Levain, the taste difference was very noticable, interestingly out of the assembled loaves the two that had the highest spring/kick and deepest carmalisation and best rust & crumb structure was the Natural Sourdough, as well as teh one and two in terms of taste and texture. We also conducted some blind tests and the results once again gave the tumbs up to the natural loaves. One of the loaves from an 'alledged' top bakery was 'crap'  in every way, actually it was an insult to all baker's to call it an artisan loaf. ( & no it was not a one off, they had many of the same looking loaf ) When we told some of the people that took part in the blind testing where some of the loaves come from we nearly had fainting 'foodies', luckily we had great cheese and bread on hand to revive them. 

We have bought some bread from Artisan Bakeries that clearly label/advertise the fact that they do use AA, and we respect them for the honesty in advertising.  As for the other's let them be judged by their own action's or lack thereof.  All deception comes at a price. 

 ... you woke up?

And who were you in your dream - Stefen, stefan, John... or Sybil?

'KymH' woke up and became 'panfresca'   


Just to clarify...One is still Stefen and short of a deed poll change that is they way it will stay. Shalom Stefen

Well done and thanks for the attampt to get some objectivity.

As Ive said,I did the same in about 2007 I think. I had no idera that AA was being used in Sourdoughs, but collected Melbourne "Artisan" breads and did tastings, simply for organoleptic evaluation and to update. When in Melbourne I noticed a flavour in the breads which I naively attributed to the strong wheats. The actual sourdoughs for example from Firebrand and Fruition didnt have the flavour, and again naively I simply thought well maybe they dont use that strong flour from nth NSW/sth QLD. It wasnt until one of the tasters asked if one of the melbourne "famous" loaves was actually a sourdough that my suspicion was aroused, and then again I took a loaf to a sourdough baker in QLD and he made the same comment. I still didnt "twig" until having a casual rap with an ex Melbourne baker, and I mentioned this. He told me about the AA use and I was truly speechless.

So I didnt come to this with a pre-concieved notion, it was pure experience. Ive been investigating AA use eversince and talking to bakers in various countries about it. All the actual Artisan bakers in USA/Europe are as disdainful as myself of its use in Artisan, especially "organic" but mostly sourdough bread. Such bread is not allowed to be called "Organic" in Europe, because AA is known as a bread improver and chemical additive. It is also not allowed to be called "traditional" or "Artisan" in France.

As you point out, certain "top line" Melbourne "sourdough"bakeries have no indication whatsoever in point of sale or other information that they use AA. This could be construed as deceptive.

One thing I'm wondering is what effect does AA have on the bread aging process.  I know that my own naturally leavened bread keeps well for an inordinate amount of time but I've had no experience with AA sourdough.  Real question, no polemics intended.

Industrial preparation

Ascorbic acid is synthesized from glucose  through a five-step process. Firstly, glucose, a pentahydroxy aldose, is reduced to sorbitol, which is then oxidized by the microorganism  Acetobacter suboxydans. To selectively oxidize only one of the six hydroxy groups in sorbitol, an enzymatic reaction is involved. Treatment with acetone and an acid catalyst then protects four of the remaining hydroxyl  groups in acetal  linkages. The unprotected hydroxyl group is chemically oxidized to the carboxylic acid by reaction with sodium hypochlorite  (bleaching solution). Hydrolysis with acid then removes the two acetal groups. The removal then causes an internal ester-forming reaction to yield ascorbic acid. Each of the five steps has a yield larger than 90%.

Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...


Sorbitol, also known as glucitol, is a sugar alcohol that the human body metabolizes slowly. It can be obtained by reduction of glucose, changing the aldehyde group to a hydroxyl group. Sorbitol is found in apples, pears, peaches, and prunes. It is synthesized by sorbitol-6-phosphate dehydrogenase...


A microorganism or microbe is an organism that is unicellular or lives in a colony of cellular organisms...


In chemistry, hydroxyl is a compound containing an oxygen atom bound covalently with a hydrogen atom. The neutral form of this group is a hydroxyl radical. The hydroxyl anion is called hydroxide; it is a diatomic ion with a single negative electronic charge...


An acetal is a molecule with two single bonded oxygens attached to the same carbon atom.Traditional usages distinguish ketal from acetal...


Sodium hypochlorite
Sodium hypochlorite is a chemical compound with the formula NaClO. Sodium hypochlorite solution, commonly known as bleach, is frequently used as a disinfectant or a bleaching agent.-Production:...


"It is generally thought that the term vitamin C refers to ascorbic acid. But ascorbic acid is only the antioxidant ring that surrounds the vitamin C complex. Vitamin C was discovered by Szent-Gyorgi and first isolated from peppers. In this state it was found to have 7 identified and other unidentified compounds, comprised of Rutin (vitamin P), the bioflavonoid complex, the “K” factor, the “J”-factor, Tyrosinase (organic copper), ascorbic acid, ascorbigen, and components not yet identified. Ascorbic Acid only represents the antioxidant ring surrounding these 7 other compounds. Years of research have demonstrated that when any portion of a vitamin is separated from its naturally occurring collective, cooperative complex, including trace-mineral activators, and reduced to an isolated purified state, the vitamin activity has been lost."




References derived from the book: “The Truth About Vitamins and Antioxidants” By Judith DeCava.


Quoting dodgy pseudo-science from amateur hippy websites pretty much sums up the reliability of your sources. 

 Glad to have brightened your day.... as I said it is just another view... but many cannot handle just another view

 And here was me thinking we were dealing with scientific fact, silly me.

Just posted it as another view..  

Any bread  that has modern chemicals in it is modern chemicalised bread. Which is ok, if that is what it is sold as and clearly cconsumers are aware of the fact and not deceived. 

Simulacra is the plural. Im not clear what you are referring to? As ive said, but you seem incapable of comprehending what I actually wrote, my piece is an opinion and an examination of the issue. i claim no authority anywhere in the piece.

Scientific "facts" are as plastic as any "facts". Science fortunately, regularly updates and good scientists understand that Science is a learning experience. What was "fact" yesterday is "fiction" tomorrow. An examination of the history of science or even contemporary science reveals this to be abundantly clear. The most topical example is that potassium Bromate was safe to use as a scientific "fact" which was proved to be a fiction.

Im not sure that an analytical chemist would agree with you that the ascorbic extracted from the Vit C complex and that produced chemically are identical. The chemical copies are analogs and are often mirror images of the actual natural structure or vary in miniscule detail. Notoriously, they do not perform the same function as the natural structure, which is a major frustration of chemists who attempt to copy natural structures. This is very common in the literature, the most frustrating being the failure of analog Artemisin, which in its natural form is the strongest anti-malaria drug we have. However only the bio-chemical extracted from the herb Artemisia actually performs the function of exploding the parasite, which is why the dollar driven drug companies have given up on it...they cant make money from natural herbs.

By the way, the great social democracy of the internet enables anyone who has trouble with "big words" to simply google them for an explanation.

Can you contribute more than name calling and personal attacks? And no one is not Davo or JohnD or your left hand ( thank goodness for that,  if one was, one  would cut ones off and feed oneself to the sharks..LOL) alas just have to settle with ones' name Stefen just baking real honest tradtional sourdough and selling it for what it is! And no at this stage one is not saying where one bakes,  one does not want a bully to put a brick threw my window, or let my car tyres down,  has had it with intimidation and threats from the chemical baking fraternity.    

What do they fear? Why do they resist honest advertising/ingredient lists/point of sale inofrmation and why do they bully those who bake honest traditonal bread, SOURDOUGH that is simply Water - Organic Flour - Sea/River Salt - Levain. The customers love the bread, the education, the baking advice and the interaction. We as a community should not have to legislate for honest food labelling laws, it should be done as a matter of everyday behaviour by the food industry. It is all about choices, if people know what is, then they can make a choice and vote with their feet..!




What a lot of testosterone flying around in this thread and ironically, most of it from a female! Wait, that doesn't work. LOL. Better stop before I dig myself in deeper.

I've been checking out this site on and off for quite a while, but have never felt the need to join up. You all seem to be getting on fine without me! However, I came to this thread half way through all the insults and unpleasantness from the pro AA side, and a few days ago decided to sign up and say my piece.

To be honest, I hesitated because I felt intimidated. Then I thought, this is wrong. No one should feel that they haven't the right to have their say, or that a particular point of view will be jumped on and ridiculed. Now, I have quite a lot of experience with sourdough, and I think I have something to say that is reasonable and relevant, and even if I was a novice I don't think I should have to fear being set upon when expressing my opinion. You might disagree with my views, but that's no reason to bully me into silence or to dismiss me as a phoney poster who is John Downes in disguise. As if John is going to resort to garbage like that anyway.

OK. I have been home-baking my own sourdough bread for 10 years+ and have a brother who was a professional baker. He opened a sourdough bakery years ago with the intention to produce only pure sourdough. His attitude on enhancers is the same as John Downes, and I have to say mine is too. Unfortunately, it was a case of wrong time wrong place. The venture failed as a business, but we still get to use his woodfired oven, so not all bad! Anyway, although I'm not a pro, bread is in the family and I have helped out with my brother and know something of commercial artisan sourdough bread baking as well as baking at home myself. I can say that there is a world of difference between commercial scale baking and home baking, which might explain some of the misunderstandings here. But either way, there is pure artisan sourdough bread and there is the rest and that's the way it is. You can't mix and match. Enhancers are not part of the pure sourdough process. End of story. I don't know why there should be so much confusion over this.

My thoughts as I read through this thread were that the very aggressive and hostile attitude towards John Downes is about something else, not his post on AA. With professional bakers like Geoffie, I can understand where you're coming from. I know how hard this business is and I guess it is natural enough to get hot under the collar about an influential baker expressing himself on AA as John has. If you use AA, John's words on AA are going to be threatening, there's no doubt about that. No one is going to take a threat to their livelihood or craft lying down.

However, that's no reason to attack John with such disrespect. To imply that he's drug-addled and refer to him dismissively as "old man" does you no credit. Actually, it's disgusting. Play the ball, not the man. Please. You have a difference of opinion on what qualifies as artisan sourdough bread. That's all. So why get so personally insulting? It's significant  that John has not resorted to personal insults or rudeness, despite the muck that has been flung at him. That says something about his class and maturity and something else entirely about his detractors.

Now, for home bakers who are not professionals and who don't have their whole livelihood at stake, I think it's very poor and arrogant indeed to treat someone of John's standing with contempt and rudeness. This is just showing your ignorance in my opinion. By ignorance, I mean two things.

One, maybe you're new to this game and don't understand or know how highly John is regarded and how much he has done for the artisan bread industry. He has the runs on the board. He's the Bradman of sourdough LOL. I respectfully ask you to do some research and perhaps even carefully consider what he says. You might actually learn something if you are prepared to listen.

Two. Perhaps you don't properly understand or care about the concept of traditional artisan baking, or truly appreciate the skill and time that goes into it. I was going to try to go into this in detail, but Graham wrote a post yesterday that says it all, "Companion Bakery Tasmania - how we make sourdough" which I think any home bakers howling down John on this thread should read carefully as an education. Then you might begin to have some understanding of why purist artisan bakers like John Downes, Graham and my brother and like-minded amateurs like me and others who believe in the tradition of pure sourdough baking choose not to use dough enhancers like AA, and think that bakers who do should have to declare that to their public.

There are indeed question marks about the safety of this ingredient, but that aside, using any enhancers diminishes the craft of sourdough bread baking. As John said, that doesn't mean bakers are not free to use AA but it does mean they are not practicing pure sourdough baking and the public has a right to know what sort of product thry'e buying. Exactly as Graham wrote "you can see why I believe that bakers who go to all this trouble to condition dough entirely using natural fermentation...lots of skill and knowledge needed...need to be recognised for that work." That says it all.

One last thing I would like to add. There are a lot of accusations made towards John in this thread that he is not informed on his subject re AA. I ask the main accuser, with respect madam, what is your background and what qualifies you to make this accusation of John? You are obviously not a biochemist. You state you are in a business unrelated to bread. So, why do you assume the right to dismiss John's comments on the health aspects of AA without being an authority yourself? This reminds me of the global warming denial types, who know no more than the next bloke on the science, yet who talk as if they are climate scientists themselves.

You keep questioning John's authority to be expressing himself on AA, so it's fair enough for you to please inform readers of your qualifications, isn't it. So come on. What are your sources of information, why are they superior to John's, and are you speaking with any real authority? Anyone can do a google search or look up Wikipedia, but that does not make you an expert.

The fact is that the jury is out on AA. Hope'sHope tried to make this point and others did the same but were drowned out by the two posters who banged their drums the loudest. No one knows whether AA has bad effects on health or not. John Downes's concerns are as valid as anyone on this thread, probably more so because of his knowledge and research. The guy has devoted his life to sourdough. Pay some respect and stop thinking you know it all, because odds are you don't and certainly not more than him. Learn to listen before you rant. And just show some basic civility. Personal insults get in the way of constructive discussion and you know what else? Its undignified to carry on like that and does nothing for your credibility. Think about it.

Finally, I think its just plain offensive and terribly arrogant for you, madam, to keep addressing Stefan as John. You were wrong about Davo being John but I didn't see an apology, just an acknowledgement. Just as with AA, you do not have superior knowledge to anyone else about posters' identities. You have no proof that Stefan is John, and personally, I don't think it is remotely likely. Unless you have proof, isn't it about time for you to pull your head in, stop being so arrogant and rude, and start treating other posters with some basic courtesy. Sorry, but I just had to express myself, and I know I'm not the only onlooker who is sick of your offensive carry on. In my opinion you are ruining a good discussion.

Take a leaf out of Davo's book and just say your piece clearly and rationally without adding all the putdowns and snide remarks. And by the way, Davo, I share your views completely.





...and one who makes a helluva lot of loaded assumptions, not least the veiled mysogynist insult of calling me "madam"... Your "verbal diarrhoea" passive/aggressive style is remarkably similar to a member who was recently banned from these pages...

Can't be bothered with your games. If you can't extract the information from the volumes which have already been written, then too bad, too sad.

Is what I would call exquisite irony.

Sorry to be off-topic.

I've gotten into the silly habit of using LOL when I just mean "I'm joking", but seriously I did laugh out loud literally when I saw that name change and your pithy response, Davo. Just shows, I should log in more often and catch the action as it happens! Then again, can't say I was given the warmest of encouragements on my first post!

Speaking of names, I noticed the one-formerly-known-as-kymh was very mild in response to another poster on another thread who referred to "her" kitchen. Can understand the name change with this sort of confusion, but not the hissy fit in response to me making exactly the same assumption and the ridiculous accusation of misogyny. Anyway, time to move on. At least it gave us a chuckle and that's got to be good.

Smoke and mirrors ... or paradox or ironic...?  No just boring...! Who would have thought that a REAL READ vs chemicalised bread debate could go on such tangents(?) 

Actually its a pantomime revealing that the chemical side arent REAL at all but a mirror-image analog of ...Tony Abbot...anyone noticed the similarity of debating style?. Come on its time for me and Stefan and Davo and Larry to own up that we are all actually the same person.....im just not sure which one yet LOL....well im back to the drawing board trying to think up some more shrill innuendo and verbal (actually printed)diarrohea laced with factless inflammatory rhetoric in order to mislead the masses.ie speech writing for Tony Abbot LOL.

Ya have to laugh!

At the extremely high risk of being accused of posting to myself, the similarities to the Abbott style of rhetoric are uncanny. Tony likes to demo his affinity with the masses by butchering meat, laying a brick, steering a bobcat and wearing a hard hat at every opportunity - why not baking a loaf or two? I reckon he'd struggle with the basic principles of artisan baking too, come to think about it, just because of that word 'principle'. Spooky.

Now I'm someone else? You've got to be joking haven't you? Is everyone who disagrees with you the same person in disguise? Isn't it possible that more than one person might not share your views?

I take it you are male. I was only going by the spelling of your name, not trying to insult you. I've obviously made a mistake. My apologies. So, just change "madam" to "sir". It makes no difference to the points I was making.

Now, I ask you to publicly declare what your sources of information are and why your sources are superior to John's on AA? You have asked this of Stefan and John multiple times, so now I'm asking you. I was about to add "what's good for the goose is good for the gander", but I guess that's not terribly appropriate with the name confusion LOL.

Anyhow, please don't dodge the points I've raised, and please answer the question you have asked so often of others. Sources? Why superior? Simple enough.




Nice to know someone agrees with my ramblings.

I'm really interested in whether Kymh has a response to the barn-laid versus cage egg question, because I think this goes to the heart of the issue: does the end justify the means. Is, in Panfresca's words (weird that posts yesterday by Kym are today  attributed to Panfresca, but anyway...), any consideration of the process of making something as opposed to only assessing the outcome purely "superstition... emotion ... to the exclusion of sense".

That's why there's been no response. There's been an avoidance of real point-for-point discussion all the way through, which is why I stated that I thought there must be another more personal agenda to explain the extreme recalcitrance. Who knows? Looks like it's blown itself out, but it's a pity when things get heated and emotional. Logic and reason suffers, as well as the quality of discussion. Have appreciated you sticking to unemotional rigorous argument. A needed balance to the histrionics from the other side.

Davo & Larry,

Thank you for your well considered post's!  It is great to hear more voices than just JohnD and myself on the REAL BREAD -  Natural Soughdough side of the AA debate.  Shalom Stefen

Some of my customers were told by their doctors to eat only naturally leavened bread.  I'm sure this is the case elsewhere as well.  I wonder how these folks would feel if they new that their naturally leavened bread included an ingredient other than flour, salt and water.  I don't think it's fair to hide ingredients behind the reasonable assumption of trust.

  'I don't think it's fair to hide ingredients behind the reasonable assumption of trust.' Panevino

Yes, one is in complete agreement with your statement..!

Any baker/bakery that partakes in this kind action, is undertaking dishonest and deceitful , if not illegal behaviour, they deserve to take the full brunt of customer backlash. Customer's that have experienced this type of deception, should vote with their feet and go to a bakery that is 100% ethical in it's practices and ingredients usage and labelling. Support REAL BREAD _REAL SOURDOUGH, not a modern chemicalised version thereof..!

It is Immoral of the Government  to support in kind this type dishonest action by refusing to strenghten labelling laws or act to define REAL BREAD  like many jurisdictions in Europe.


I really don't want those bakeries to suffer.  Not at all, in fact.  I'm willing to bet that most customers won't even care.  There's always the purist, for sure, and those with health problems, but even I'd rather eat a good sourdough made with AA than most other breads available in the market place.  I don't think retribution should be on the table.

most customers wouldnt even care...its a bit sad, so many are "over caring" because theres so much to care about....but Sourdough has been the resting place of those who care about it, and now the resting place has been overthrown...by barbarians really, again, its like a historical rule....dialectic.

Im fascinated that my piece stirred up so much Ire...it was with almost religious conviction that I became the new satan....especially as hardly anybody who played pit-bull seemed to have read what I actually said, and how I said it...particularly the first paragraph. To me, this betrays the mentality of "sourdough " bakers who add bread improver/chemicals to their "organic" breads.

That there is a silence from beyond the trenches means there are no reasons to add this chemical to sourdough breads, other than for convenience and for surrendering to a percieved commercial asthetic...but the convenience reason...saving time/labour etc is exactly the abandonment of craft I talk about.

Anyone who has produced a lot of handmade sourdough commercially soon realises that craft parameters of time and temperature can be skillfully employed to meet sales demands, apart from manipulating leaven percentages, which is so easy and achievable, and is what being a craftsperson is about.  Adding a chemical to do it for you just isnt craft.....but so many of the AA users maintain they are Artisans or craft bakeries, and their customers percieve this to be true.

Fundamental to this question though, is that the sourdough process is undeniably altered by the addition of AA, obviously, other-wise it wouldnt be used........it isnt actually sourdough..the finale is never reached, the matrix isnt modified, probably through enzyme-inhibition which is a fundamental alteration of what is largely an enzymatic process..... .contractually, the customer isnt getting what they contracted to buy...whether they care or not....and I do doubt that, because to go to a sourdough bakery means going through a series of choices and eventually probably going out of your way to purchase such bread....sourdough has in fact been the bread of those who care.

... sourdough has in fact been the bread of those who care.


That's it - the kernel of truth buried in this thread.

 JohnD, beautifully said... Amen...!!  

Real Bread working with nature to nuture the palate and soul.....with loads of passion, care and love, Stefen 

We seem to live in a society now whereby no one wants to have consequences, If people are dishonest and deceitful, then they deserve the consquences that come with that action. 

One wonder's as to why the deceit in the first place,  was it because the bakers that used AA and failed to disclose the fact and promoted themselves as baking REAL BREAD - SOURDOUGH  knew that they would loose customers?

'as you sow, so shall you reap' 





I have logged on again, some days later, to find this argument continuing. If I had the time, I could talk about the science of sourdough, but sadly I don't have that much time. Having years of industrial microbiology/chemistry experience and working for one of the major bread companies has given me an insight into just how modern food technology has stripped us of the diversity we once had in food production. Look how many artisans have gone back to making regional products using the old techniques, proven in time. Having a Master of Applied Science has also given me the skills to be analytical rather than emotional when assessing foods. John I agree, I can walk down the supermarket bread aisle and smell individual additives....years of being on taste panels at both CSIRO and industry.

I go so far as to say that I don't agree with adding commercially produced microorganisms to a sourdough culture! Yes, I am a purist. All the biological entities needed to produce sourdough are inherent in flour. They do not come "from the air" as I have read in some articles. Species of lactobacillus and wild yeasts are different around the world and produce different metabolites, depending on their genetic make-up. Evidenced by this is Lactobacillus sanfransensis, a regional lactobacillus species found in parts of California. This species produces a combination of lactic and acetic acids which gives rise to a more acidic-tasting sourdough. We do not add any commercial cultures at Morpeth Sourdough and never have. We use locally milled flours, containing microorganisms that naturally grow on the surface of these wheat grains. This is the way we get "regional" Sourdough, a unique flavour profile, where our Sourdough will taste different to that produced in VIC or QLD or San Francisco!! This is the beauty of the product. It has the natural variation in both taste and often texture, which sets each producer apart. Then add the skill of the baker - shape, size, slash techniques etc, wow the variation can be endless, as we see from photos on this site.

John & Stefan (& co) are right....you can add whatever you like to your dough, but you can't call it Sourdough if it contains anything other than flour, water and salt. As mentioned before, Sourdough is a process, naturally leavened bread, long fermentation bread, using a dough of flour, water & salt.

It is a simple concept and one that needs to be respected. There are many other naturally fermented foods that have similar health benefits and are very old methods of production. Take the Garibaldi incident in SA, which killed 5 people. The natural fermentation of salami etc is an age old process, replace this natural fermentation with an added commercial culture and it does not behave the same way and if not done properly, can be lethal. There are a myriad of examples that relate to naturally fermented foods and beverages. These products have earned their right through history to remain, unadulterated, and Sourdough is one of them. The Sourdough process works very well without any aids. If you can't achieve it, then work on the quality of your flour and your techniques! It can be frustrating when it doesn't work....but perservere, it's worth it.

Truth in labelling should be at the core of every baker. My question here is why would a baker add an ingredient like AA and not declare it? Why on earth would you hide this? This is what should be argued. I know of several commercial "sourdough" bakeries that use AA and don't declare it. Shame on you.

Keep the word Sourdough for the real thing and use the word Artisan bread for non-industrial bread with some soft additives. Easily solved and does not deceive the consumer or peers.

John, you don't deserve this criticism but at least you declare who you are. I would be interested to know which commercial bakeries the contributors of this argument are from. You know where I am, any one interested in revealing who you are?