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Health Food of the month - Sour Bread

April 2018


sour bread
Sour bread has health benefits as well as a lovely flavour

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Eggs

Coconut Flour

Haggis


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Sour bread – more than just a fashion

Bread in various forms has been a mainstay of the human diet for thousands of years. In fact, it was as far back as around 8000 BC that the Egyptians started crushing grain with a special grinding stone.

Since then bread has been made in a huge range of styles and forms. Sliced bread was a major breakthrough of course...Wonderloaf introduced sliced bread in 1937 and by the 1950s slice bread accounted for 80% of the market here, explaining the expression: “The best thing since sliced bread!”

But of course things continue to change and today artisan and special breads are increasingly taking a big share of the market.

One bread that has risen dramatically in popularity in recent years is sour bread and this should be of especial interest to our age group when many people start to suffer from digestive problems because it can reduce bloating and digestive discomfort.

Very briefly, sour bread is made with natural ingredients and a longer preparation and fermentation time than today’s fast manufactured bread and this can offer real benefits.

Sour bread and normal bread are both based on flour and water. The main difference is the source of the yeast which is also an essential part of the bread making process.

Today bakers often rely on adding a cultivated yeast which has been dried, preserved and then turned into a powder for easy use. This yeast has a fairly fast reaction time. Sour bread is made from creating natural yeast fungi in the bread making process. This creates a strong colony of micro-organisms including lactobacillus but the process takes longer.

This is quite a complex process and sustainweb.org gives a good explanation of how it works:

Yeasts and bacteria are present all around us – for example in the air, soil and water. Those well suited to bread production are found in relatively high populations on the surface of cereal grains, such as wheat. By grinding the grains into flour and providing a suitable environment for these microorganisms to thrive (basically by adding water, maintaining an appropriate temperature, and providing food in the form of more flour) these populations can be increased in size and concentration, where they co-exist in a symbiotic relationship.

Eventually there will be enough yeast cells giving off carbon dioxide as a by-product to make bread rise. The interaction of the yeast and the natural enzymes they secrete will have a beneficial effect on the flavour, texture and aroma of the baked bread.

At the same time, the populations of bacteria will increase. The interaction of these bacteria and the products of their respiration (including lactic and acetic acids) also contribute to the flavour, texture and aroma of the bread.

This slower method of development, or fermentation as it is called, can produce more gas and the bacteria can also produce enzymes that break down proteins, resulting in weaker gluten in the finished bread.

The lactic acids produced in this slow fermentation method for sour dough help to make the nutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, folic acids and B vitamins become easier to be absorbed by our body.  They also make the gluten in the flour more digestible, reducing bloating and digestive discomfort. Interestingly this bread making process creates higher levels of folate than other breads.

Sour bread does not taste quite the same as other bread; for some it is an acquired taste; others just love it from the start.

Now that sour bread has become popular some sour breads are appearing that have not been made using the traditional longer methods, so although they may taste the same they may have reduced health benefits. Real sour bread can only be made with a live sourdough culture, not dried yeast powder. Reading the label on the bread should give a clue; if baker’s yeast or just yeast is added in the ingredients, then the sour bread may not have been made in the correct way.

There is some good information under the Real Bread campaign.

 

 


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