pH question and a pic


Hi all,

I have learned so much here in the few months that I have been lurking around! I made my first sourdough frisbee about 4 months ago, and have progressed steadily from the frisbee stage thru the petrified wood stage to the point where the family actually looks forward to the bread coming out of the oven! The included picture is this morning's offering.


I have a pH question. I have the ability to choose the pH of my water. I have an "alkalinizer" thing so i can choose to use highly alkaline pH 9-10 or water as acidic as 5-6 with the push of a button. I have used the neutral 7pH for my starter and it is excellent. 

So, if you had the choice, what water would you choose? Would your choice change depending on the ingredients? Or the type of flour? Or the phase of the moon?  

Thanks for your input. 


Taipei, Taiwan

313 users have voted.


panfresca 2011 June 23

 The changes in pH are wrought by the process itself, so the starting point should be neutral.

Nice looking loaf by the way.


atephronesis 2011 June 23

Well, that's where I have been starting. I'd be interested to hear what others think as well. Thanks for the reply!


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 June 23

Some have suggested that the addition of 'acid' liquids such as pineapple juice can help to establish a culture but as Kymh says, the process generates its own acid.  Another favoured view is that the water should be as pure as possible.  Not sure what generates your acidity or alkalinity but neutral sounds like a good stopping point to me.


Jeannie143 2011 June 24

Originally I was all concerned about using city water with chlorine in it so I bought bottled water for my bread. That got old real fast! Now I just use tap water and I get fabulous results. We eat lots of fresh pineapple around here so we have fresh pineapple juice to use in place of water in the starter about twice a month. This, along with my home ground 5 grain flour keeps my starter plump and sassy.  Loved your comment about the frizbee, wood and loaf phase. ~Jeannie

Merrid 2011 June 24

Back before industrialisation, people would have used whatever was in the local well or stream, which I think is usually slightly acidic (less than vinegar, though), but varies depending on the rainfall and the local geology (affects what dissolved salts etc are in the water). For consistency, just use neutral pH as a starting point. If you wanted to experiment, you could try using water with a pH of maybe as low as 6, but I don't think it'd make much difference to the end result.

atephronesis 2011 June 24

I was actually thinking of going in the "other" direction. My personal issue has been with loaves that are quite weak. I have become good at shaping, I think, and can set up a nice 'tight" package for final proof, but they seem so darn delicate and tend to spread immediately after I remove from the banneton. I was thinking that maybe if i start at a little higher on the pH scale, they structure might hold up better...less acid to break everything down...just thinking out loud...So I  am gonna try that today...same recipe as yesterday, but starting with a slightly higher pH. Maybe no difference, and it's hard to control for every variable, but it's another good excuse to bake.


Thanks again for everyone's comments and feel free to keep chiming in!

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2011 June 29

I'd also run with the neutral pH, and if your loaves are "weak" try proofing them for a shorter period.  Over proofed loaves will collapse easily as the structure of the gluten starts to degrade.

Great looking loaf by the way!  I built a garden shed out of my first attempts!  And even created a spelt UFO once!

panfresca 2011 June 29

 ...well, technique and ingredients. If some part of the process is failing, then finding the cause is pretty straightforward, given the huge body of knowledge on breadmaking.

Looks to me like you have this option, so you want to use it. Forget about it. Reminds me of the saying, "to someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail". 


CraigP 2011 July 6


My understanding is that fermentation basically produces CO2, alcohol (flavour) and acidity, which provides dough strength. That is, as long as the acidity doesn't go too low, and in general it wont if the starter is reliable and your formula/process is not too crazy.

That's the beauty of sourdough and long fermentation, compared to "quick-time" highly added yeast breads. Rather than having to mix so strong (and subsequently oxidise the flour and deplete flavour) for a short fermentation, we can allow the fermentation to naturally develop the dough strength (whilst maximising flavour), with a gentler initial mix and a few folds/kneads/turns as required, depending on the dough, objective etc.,

Having said all that, probably the best thing to do is to simply do it! Adjust that water thingy and start mixing some doughs and see what happens.




jesstaylor1603 2014 September 17

I am at the frisbee stage now and ready to give up... any advice would be great Jeff if you could?

I am new to this website and in fact the whole forum thing... so if you can see my post from today with the specifics and asking for help... well... please help!



Laszlo 2019 December 17


I am using pH meter to monitor degree of fermentation of sourdough. I have found it very useful. By using neutral water, the pH of the mixed dough among others depends on the pH of the levain. The pH of levain may be in the range of 4.2-4.8 depending on its composition and ripeness. if you want to increase pH of mixed dough you can use levain of higher pH (use freshly ground graines for refreshment) and reduce the levain load on the mix. I usually start fermenting at pH 5.8-6.0 and let the dough ferment until pH of 4.4 is reached then it is ready to bake.


Good luck!



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