The Sourdough Brand You Shouldn't Bother Spending Money On

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Artisan bakery customers love the tangy taste of fresh-baked sourdough bread and see it as a healthier approach to eating. Now, grocery stores have cashed in on the sourdough trend, each day stacking a shelf or two with their own brands. But even with a bit of commercial yeast in the mix, some store-bought sourdough bread fails to rise to the occasion, particularly 365 Organic Sourdough Sandwich Bread by Whole Foods, which Tasting Table ranked 14th out of 14 sourdough bread brands.

365 Sourdough by Whole Foods got our attention for all the wrong reasons. This brand markets its bread as organic sourdough but looks and tastes nothing like it. For starters, it has an off-putting color that doesn't seem consistent with other sourdoughs. It doesn't taste great, either. Our original reviewer Judy Moreno stated that it tasted "like dry cardboard," falling flat with none of the chewy bite that makes sourdough bread so appealing. You're met with a gaping hole where all the tang is meant to shine through, which makes it not just plain but tasteless. And for sourdough bread to miss its most defining element is an insult hard-hitting enough to make any artisan baker cry.

Avoid this in sourdough bread

You know you've picked the wrong sourdough brand if it begins to crumble while still in your hands, which 365 Organic Sourdough Sandwich Bread by Whole Foods does. The slices are so dry that they disintegrate easily. This shows that the crumb is compromised since it lacks the elasticity and chew of authentic sourdough. So, naturally, you'd resort to toasting this bread as a saving grace — despite it being labeled as "sandwich bread" — but our taste testers feared this would dry it out even more.

Other signs of sourdough bread gone wrong are a dense crumb and gummy texture, a fault that's often due to under-proofing the dough or cutting into the bread too soon after baking — one of the biggest mistakes made with sourdough. Many Amazon reviewers found this the case after sampling 365 Sourdough by Whole Foods' bread. A good way to avoid a bad loaf of sourdough bread is to check the ingredients list. They should be limited to very few items, primarily flour, water, salt, and a culture. But most store-bought brands include yeast so that their bread doesn't have to proof for so long — it's essentially how some bakeries cheat when making sourdough bread. So do check the ingredients list in case you get lucky and find a near-authentic grocery-store sourdough loaf. But if you don't, the best solution is to head for an artisan baker or make your own, like our hot honey sourdough bread recipe.