Product Spotlight on Bread

Convenience has two faces. In order to save time – to mass produce, sacrifices are made. Case in point – bread.

First let’s look at wheat, the main ingredient in bread. Domesticated wheat – bred to grow faster, resist disease, increase yield among other things has sacrificed many of the nutrients in the original wild varieties of wheat – spelt, kamut, emmet, and farro are a few. Cool names too! Scientist are now breeding these ‘lost’ nutrients back into domesticated wheat. Kind of strange, why not go back to the wild variety?

Second, let’s look at leavening or what is done to make the dough rise. Today, super fast acting yeast cultures with special flours and conditioners make bread rise fast. Time, after all is money. Back in the old days, bread was made with a long slow fermentation using a culture of wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria along with some other critters and enzymes. The result was a nutritious loaf with a sour tang – what we call sour dough bread.

So what’s the big deal? What’s wrong with our technologically ‘advanced’ mass-produced bread? Well, we now understand that fermenting grains, in this case, via the long slow rise of bread makes the grains easier to digest by breaking down the gluten and making the nutrients more bio-available. Nutrients are also added from the by-products of the various critters in the fermenting culture.

Further, grains have a compound called phytic acid, which while in our gut, bind to minerals that are essential to our health – like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. Finally, the long fermentation breaks down much of the starch converting our loaf of bread from what is usually considered a refined carbohydrate into a complex carbohydrate.

There are many fine artisan breads being baked out there using the time honored tradition of a long slow fermentation using wild cultures – breads with crisp crusts, hearty textures and oh so much flavor. If you’d like to try baking a loaf or two or eight yourself, check out the posts on No-Knead Bread at Tasty Bytes.

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