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Seattle Sourdough… Warning Critical Review


If you are the kind of person that doesn’t like the truth… this blog post is not for you. If you are like one lady who felt I had no right to an opinion about whether I liked a certain brand of flour or that everything must be neat, tidy and kind. Then this post is not for you. If you are the kind of person who likes cheap bread filled with chemicals…this post is not for you. If you are not used to real artisan and sourdough bread… bye.  If you don’t really like an honest review of something… go away…

Now… you can’t say you weren’t warned!

As many of you know, I often will purchase random sourdough or artisan breads when I am out and about and then review them. I have found some surprisingly good sourdough bread in unlikely places and some not so good sourdough in more places than I care to remember. This is one of those times.

I picked up a loaf of Seattle Sourdough from a store in town. It looked good through the packaging. It hefted nicely at 24 oz. Once I got it home, I tried it out. Was I ever disappointed. The sourdough bread wasn’t as bad as some I have tasted, but I was disappointed not only in the flavor and texture, but for other reasons.

The flavor was … not there. Sure there was a slight acidic taste as it went past the back of the tongue, but other than that, there were no complex flavors at all. The bread was dryish and clumped into a pasty ball in your mouth when you tried to chew it. Perhaps if I got a loaf right off of the cooling rack, I might have a different story to tell. I do have to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t really know how many days out of the bakery this bread was.

What I do know however, is that it is NOT sourdough bread. There was NO sourdough culture listed in the ingredients. There was yeast (which means commercial yeast) and for flavor and acidity they used distilled VINEGAR (!) The Ascorbic Acid added some acidity as well, but is used mainly as a dough conditioner, making the dough stronger.

On the front of the bag, it says, “Naturally aged sourdough.” I wonder what that means? Naturally aged? Aged with commercial yeast? Sourdough? I don’t think so. There were no flavors or textures to suggest it was real fermented sourdough at all.

I am disappointed for several reasons. I am proud to be a Washingtonian and Seattle is our place. To suggest this is Seattle Sourdough is to say Seattle can’t produce world quality sourdough bread. I can’t believe that is true. They should have stuck to their company name, “Franz.” Franz Sourdough, leave out the name Seattle please. Here is a link to their website describing this bread:


I found that some of the breads on their site did say made with “sourdough culture.” However, it makes me wonder if the sourdough culture they list is just dumped into the batch along with commercial yeast or if they actually do take time to ferment the dough to make REAL sourdough. I did find one bread listed on their site that did list sourdough culture as one of the ingredients. It was the Sourdough Garlic bread:


Using vinegar in bread and calling is sourdough is … is… well, it’s a crime. It just shouldn’t be done. Besides the crust being a bit dry and crumbly, it seems as if they have a fairly good chance at producing a decent crust. The bread itself is edible, it is just disappointing.

So I challenge you Franz, contact Bread Bakers Guild of America and see if you can get some help learning how to produce real sourdough in a large bakery environment. I know it isn’t easy, but perhaps there are some things you can change to  allow your dough to ferment longer using real sourdough culture that will help make your “Sourdough” bread real sourdough bread and not “Vinegardough” bread. Maybe even a morph of sourdough culture with a longer ferment and a spike of commercial yeast to jumpstart the process and make the timing more dependable for a large bakery.

I challenge you because I think you have it in you to produce some of the best sourdough in the Northwest and make us here in Washington and Seattle proud. I think we have the right to ask for this since it reflects on us here in Washington… don’t you Washingonians think so?

Go for it….. I will be the first to give you a great review once you succeed.

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  1. June 1, 2017    

    This is a seriously bad list of ingredients, I agree. Enriched flours or grains of any kind are also bad. We should avoid the synthetic folic acid. As you explain this is not true sourdough either. It is not organic.

  2. Joy WinderJoy Winder
    May 24, 2017    

    I agree wholeheartedly!! For well over 20 years I would go into Pike Place Market weekly to get the best Sourdough ever … then, Seattle Sourdough … now, stale smelling, as well as all the other things you mentioned. The holes are so big that the butter or mayo run right through, and they burn instead of toasting. I was about to email them, but as you pointed out, they are now Franz, which explains everything and tells me that an email would be useless. How sad. Thanks for your smart and thorough comments … you are ‘right on’. The goodness has been sold out and the bread is horrid. I didn’t read all the other comments, but if anyone disagrees with you, then they know nothing about excellent, real sourdough bread.
    Keep up the good work.
    Joy, (an old Hippy who also likes to keep it real.)

  3. JohnJohn
    January 21, 2016    

    Excellent post. You say that “I have found some surprisingly good sourdough bread in unlikely places.”

    Where can I find good sourdough in Seattle? Any large grocery stores? Which commercial sourdough breads available in Seattle are your favorites?

    I can’t believe that two people criticized you for calling out Seattle Sourdough. The package says “Naturally Aged Sourdough,” but it isn’t. Your critics attempt excuse the company’s deceitful advertising by saying consumers should read the fine print. That’s just idiotic.

    I’ve bought Seattle Sourdough because I reasonably relied on the large-print representation on the package (you’re right; it tasted nothing like the sourdough that I vaguely remember eating as a kid). I shouldn’t have to bring a magnifying glass and read the tiny-print text that contradicts the large-print representation on the package.

    • pamelajanepamelajane
      December 1, 2016    

      Just read your post then went out to read the label on two loaves I bought at Costco — wow

  4. AnnAnn
    December 12, 2015    

    How about shame on YOU for not reading the product’s label BEFORE you bought it??? Seems to me this is a case of “buyer beware” more than any kind of deception on the part of the baker.

    We all have to be smart consumers and READ LABELS. Now, more than ever, is the time to be a shrewd customer and read labels before buying. I don’t care what was advertised as a sales gimmick on the front of the label, the ingredients list will tell the tale, and an informed consumer with even adequate critical thinking skills will be able to decide before buying if the product is what they are looking for.

    • December 12, 2015    

      Thanks for your input Ann, it is really more about the changes to the wonderful breads we once knew. Obviously I read the ingredients before I purchased so I could do this post. Everyone knows that the large commercial bakeries have adulterated the bread. I did this post because I’m sad about it. Home baking is still best. But you are right, buyer beware.

  5. Bob PrimroseBob Primrose
    October 5, 2015    

    Please tell me how I can get some Rustic French bread to the Franz outlet store in Coos Bay.
    Bob Primrose 541-756-4985

  6. TrishTrish
    March 3, 2015    

    One time I was down at the waterfront in Seattle and stopped in a shop that made sourdough – I always thought that was Seattle Sourdough – turned out it’s Alaskan Sourdough Baking Co., and it appears they may be the real deal. Regardless, I loved the bread. Unfortunately, the breads on their website don’t show the ingredients so I’m not sure if it’s “fake” or not, and I’m one of those people who really did like the Seattle Sourdough as well. I didn’t realize that there were “fake” sourdoughs out there until I read this!! Don’t worry though, you’ll be happy to know I am on day 3 of making my own starter (just flour and water) and soon will be baking my own sourdough bread!!!

    • northwestsourdoughnorthwestsourdough
      March 4, 2015    

      You know Trish, I grew up around real sourdough in California, I loved it too. I think my taste changed after so many years of eating “real” bread. You can really tell the difference and it is hard to go back and taste the bread I once thought was good, because to me, it no longer is. Perhaps the earlier commercial sourdough breads were real and maybe now they use a lot more artificial ways of mass producing. That is what happened to La Brea bread too. It doesn’t taste as good as it once did, they use commercial yeast and other additives now.

    • April 3, 2015    

      We are a bakery that uses a sourdough starter. Seattle sourdough used to be in our current location about 10 years ago. We came in and started alaskan sourdough bakery

    • April 3, 2015    

      We are a bakery that uses a sourdough starter. Seattle sourdough used to be in our current location about 10 years ago. We came in and started alaskan sourdough bakery. Our loaf of sourdough take at least 5 days to make our bread ferments for 2 days before getting baked. We also make a double sour that takes 3 days to ferment and it is a 6 day process to make. Give us a try.

      • northwestsourdoughnorthwestsourdough
        April 4, 2015    

        I would love to come try out your loaves some day!

  7. michael deckermichael decker
    January 17, 2014    

    Thank you for the work–although it is not good news – However it is the truth and that’s how I roll. I was trying to help a sister and brother who are having digestion issues (IBS) and discovered that Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) is very common today and 2) It is complicated with many potential causes with no definative cure 3) removing the gall Bladder is a common procedure which has questional results and most people find that they still have problems and are required to change their diets, and the diets seem very similar to the diets people recommend for helping you digestive system WITH YOUR GALL BLADDER INTACT. So in trying to recommend to them some of these diet changes before they opt for surgury. So getting rid of Gluten was one of these. So in my research I discovered that diagnosis like “Gluten sensitive” and “Gluten Allegies are also reported In large numbers today. Growing up in the 1960’s I never heard of these ailments only to discover that Industrial bakeries have changed the way they make bread so the yeast can not break down the gluten making it less digestable for humans. is this correct??? let me know, please. How I got to soughdough is I read it is tolerable for “Glurten sensitive” people because it is made the old way with a long fermenting time. I bought some at a local large Grocer and was sirprised to read no mention of “Sourdogh Yeast” or even Yeast for that matter. I was hoping to find a way to tell if a bread is really Sourdough from you website, but with the food label regulations I dodn’t know if you can. Any suggestions? M

    • northwestsourdoughnorthwestsourdough
      January 17, 2014    

      It’s hard to get real sourdough in a store. Bread called sourdough is usually sourdough flavored, not fermented. You have to go to an artisan bakery and ask them for bread which has been fermented at least overnight to obtain what you are looking for. Or you could start baking your own. It’s a fun journey! See my book on my site at: http://www.northwestsourdough.com

    • northwestsourdoughnorthwestsourdough
      March 15, 2014    

      Hi Michael, you would really have to go to an Artisan bakery to get real sourdough.. or bake it yourself.

  8. October 22, 2013    

    I definitely recommend having you give The Essential Baking Company’s sourdough a try. Our sourdough bread is made the tradition way, using a natural starter (mother dough) or “Mamacita” as we lovingly call it and only four organic/non-gmo ingredients; Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Organic Malt. We don’t add commercial yeast or any other unidentifiable stuff. Our sourdough bread goes through hours of fermentation to provide a complex sourdough taste.

  9. DaveDave
    August 10, 2013    

    Boy are you on the money with this review.
    In fact, having grown up in the Bay Area where true sourdough bread was once found at nearly any market, it was a huge disappointment to find that most people in the NOT SO Great Northwest don’t even know what real sourdough bread taste like. Outside of Costco where you can find true brown and serve sourdough french baguette style bread which makes really great sub sandwiches, and is totally awesome with a bowl of Lobster Bisque and a beer. there is nothing but the fake stuff like your talking about. If you do find a true version it is always pre sliced and has very little flavor. Along with California, I’ve lived in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and have never found sourdough bread that can compare with the original San Francisco style French breads like, Colombo, Parisian or what was always my favorite, Toscana’s. Sadly, these bakeries were bought out fifteen years ago and I have no idea if any of these legendary brand are still available. I believe Bouldin’s is still making great bread but it’s been years since I’ve been down to the East Bay.
    It is truly a shame that something so amazing and delicious is so difficult to find. Anyone who thinks Seattle International Baking Co. makes good sourdough simply must not have ever tasted the real thing.

  10. Susan FungSusan Fung
    May 22, 2013    

    This is awesome. I was going to go directly to the westonaprice chapter people to find out about good sourdough and I found out about this. I was wondering if there was any good sourdough in Seattle made the real long fermented way and I was also wondering if the flour has to be home ground (too much for me if I made my own) or fermented even before starting or the grains sprouted. I think you know what I mean. Can I get it around here or should I try to make my own (obviously I have not attempted this yet? Any advice appreciated. Thank you.

    • Mary Lou FitzgeraldMary Lou Fitzgerald
      October 25, 2013    

      Susan, Making your own sourdough is easy once you get a good Sourdough Starter. In replies on this website (northwestsourdough.com) the lady mentioned to one that she would send her a starter – this would be a great start for you. I have used – and maintained – a sourdough pot [a couple of quart mason jars in the fridge] for about 53 years now. I’ve taken it with me to 4 US states and 3 foreign countries. Now regarding the flour – I can totally recommend a good quality Unbleached All Purpose Flour – I use only King Arthur Flour Company flours for about 15 years, but previously used either Gold Medal or Pillsbury but always Unbleached. Sourdough is not fancy nor fussy, just flour and water, but time to ferment is essential. My favorite recipes include muffins, pancakes, cornbread, biscuits, and a 5 star gingerbread. I also use it for a Pumpkin-Mincemeat Quick Bread that is in high demand for Autumn and Christmas treats. Once you taste Sourdough Cornbread and Gingerbread you will never go back to other recipes. 🙂 Don’t be afraid, just do it – without sourdough as a starter for bread the early pioneers and prospectors would never have “won the West” nor found gold in Alaska….hahaha My daughter made bread for a show & tell report in 8th grade….it is that easy. A good starter, unbleached flour, a warm kitchen or place to sit and ferment, and sufficient time are all that are truly essential. Good luck and Enjoy!!

  11. Jennifer martinJennifer martin
    May 19, 2013    

    You all are idiots. Seattle Sourdough is one of the best around. I don’t care if it has it in the ingredients or not it is still great bread. It is a top seller in Seattle so if you don’t like don’t buy it I am sure there are many of us out here that will buy it.

  12. pwyllpwyll
    March 26, 2013    

    It will not toast, either. Bread like this burns–it doesn’t toast. It is truly an ersatz bread in all respects especially in the sourdough realm, of which there is none. False advertising—apparently it is allowed. If this was a supplement, it would not be allowed.

  13. MarlMarl
    January 9, 2013    

    Thanks so much for pointing this out. This is a criminally deceptive practice that could endanger people with Celiac’s disease who think that they are buying sourdough bread, rather than ersatz sourdough bread. We bought three loaves of this (Seattle “Sourdough”), and it was very obvious that this bread is not real sourdough.

  14. December 6, 2012    

    I was just a blog post http://kotybear.blogspot.com/2012/12/hostess-ho-ho-is-on-me.html I came upon your review and linked it so people could see what agreat bread I’m gonna get stuck with. Yikes! Now I’m really an unhappy camper!

  15. September 28, 2011    

    amazaing work, keep up the great website.

  16. ChrisChris
    August 9, 2011    

    It looks like all of their products don’t have sourdough listed.

    Well I have heard of some bakeries using yeast to make “fake sourdough”. I remember eating what I suspect was a fake sourdough from the store.

    The problem is more so the general population of bread lovers buying the breads won’t be able to tell as I find only a small amount of people seem to even know what yeast does let alone how sourdough cultures work.

    People don’t read the ingredients so that is a great chance for them to pass this off as sourdough.

  17. April 11, 2011    

    The ingredients they use are really a cause for concern. The mold inhibitors aren’t needed with sourdough. When we were running our bakery we did some informal aging tests and found sourdough was naturally mold free for about 21 days.

    Worse, some of the enzymes used in bread making convert gluten into a form that is very hard on people with gluten sensitivities. In contrast to this, a number of recent studies show that celiacs can safely eat some sourdoughs. (Note – this is early science, if you’re a celiac don’t change your diet until more studies are done and your health care professional approves the changes). Sourdough seems to denature the gluten. In ways, this isn’t a big surprise. We, as a species, have been eating sourdough for 6,500 to 10,000 years with no celiac issues. We, as a species, eat factory bread for a few generations and suddenly bread makes people sick. A coincidence? I think not.


  18. northwestsourdoughnorthwestsourdough
    April 11, 2011    

    Well said Mike, thanks!

  19. FranzFranz
    March 31, 2011    

    After reading your blog, I was thinking of changing my name. I am a retired old man who loves to bake good sourdough bread. I have seen with some disgust other vinegar dough breads in other stores and other countries. I am glad you had the courage to expose this practice. Not long ago I wrote a blog on another sourdough site telling a newcomer that he does not need a big crock to maintain his culturers, and that i am successfully using 60 ml plastic containers to maintain mine quite successfully. I gave him a formula to build up the quantity of starter in two or three feedings. When my comments did not show up I thought I had made a mistake. I submitted another one which showed up, but was later again removed. Maybe some folks who make a living selling crocks to the hombakers or someone who determined that my given formula was nonesens had my comments removed. I am happy to see that this site is not that timid or sensative.

  20. northwestsourdoughnorthwestsourdough
    March 31, 2011    

    I am glad to see that other people feel as I do about vingegar dough bread. Nice to hear from you Franz.

  21. Nipomo SamNipomo Sam
    March 29, 2011    

    The crust looks like soft French bread. I bake a better looking loaf with you recipe than the one pictured.

  22. moriahmoriah
    March 27, 2011    

    To tell the truth is an obligation. Moral relativism – any type of equivocating is a lie and a sin. Truth is like pure clean water. Keep it up.

  23. Linda ThompsonLinda Thompson
    March 27, 2011    

    I used to think Seattle Sourdough was really good until I started making my own. I no longer buy sourdough from the store . I make about 10 loaves a week and share with my daughter. I use no commercial yeast. I slice and freeze it fresh because with no preservatives it has a short life span. It comes out of the freezer like it was baked that day. Love the homemade bread

    • June 1, 2017    

      Books on sourdough report that true sourdough will keep for a week at room temperature.

  24. kollinkollin
    March 26, 2011    

    Well the “Ingredients” of this bread are more close to the rocket fuel rather than sourdough bread!

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