Frequently Asked Questions
The short version:
Sourdough bread is made from a wild yeast culture, not commercial yeast (aka baker’s/instant/active dry yeast.) It is the unique interaction of the wild yeast and good bacteria, and long fermentation process, which results in a better tasting, more nutritious, more easily digestible, higher-quality, and longer lasting bread than standard store-bought bread.
The nerdy version:
All bread (with the exception of flat breads or any type of unleavened bread) needs yeast to rise. Commercial yeast, also known as active dry yeast, instant yeast, or baker’s yeast, is typically used as the leavening agent to make bread rise. Sourdough, on the other hand, refers to a wild culture starter, a mix of flour and water that over time has been colonized by good bacteria.
SIMPLE & COMPLEX: Flour+water+time
A sourdough starter is actually a simple base of flour, water, and time. An ecosystem forms as the mixture sits, and the flour starch breaks down. Naturally occurring wild yeasts and bacteria, latent in the ingredients and captured from the air and surrounding environment, break down and feed on these sugars. The wild yeasts produce carbon dioxide and ethanol as a by-product, creating some of the bubbling and rise in the fermentation process. The bacteria, primarily lactobacillus, create lactic and acetic acid, which give sourdough its distinctive “tang,” as well as a longer shelf life. Lactobacillus are the “friendly” bacteria found in yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and probiotic supplements, and are important for a healthy digestive system. It is worth noting that other beneficial microflora are found only in the sourdough habitat.
It is this dynamic ecosystem, the symbiotic activity of the wild yeast and bacteria, that create a sourdough starter. It is also this prolonged fermentation, and the unique interaction of the yeasts and bacteria, which improves bread flavor, enhances nutritional properties, and make the bread more easily digestible.
“Regular” bread is the standard because it’s fast—active yeast (aka baker’s yeast or commercial yeast) is used because it gives a quick rise in a short amount of time.
At the most basic, standard bread simply does not have the same benefits as sourdough on many levels. Baker’s yeast, because it is different than wild yeast, does not allow for interaction of yeast and bacteria, meaning you don’t get the beneficial probiotic properties of Lactobacillus.
More importantly, because there is no prolonged fermentation process, standard bread is not as digestible. The 2-day period of fermentation of sourdough naturally breaks down starch and gluten, and increases the bioavailability of minerals.
These are some of the reasons why people who have trouble digesting gluten cannot eat regular bread, but can eat sourdough.
Finally, sourdough has a more complex flavor and texture than standard bread.
Not all sourdough is “true” sourdough.
Baking with sourdough is complex and time-consuming; many bakeries speed up the process by “spiking” sourdough bread with active yeast. These “hybrid” breads allow for more control and consistency and faster rise of the dough, with some sourdough for flavor. A decent loaf can be produced this way, however, this means that the dough does NOT undergo the longer fermentation process (typically two days) crucial to develop all of the benefits listed for sourdough (see here) as well as more complex flavor and texture. It is the longer fermentation that makes bread more easily digestible, and increases the bioavailability of minerals.
Thus anyone choosing sourdough because of digestive issues specifically should ensure that the bread they are getting is true sourdough and not a hybrid.
True sourdough never has baker’s yeast.
What we use: Our sourdough breads are all true sourdoughs. This includes our Country White, Whole Wheat, Whole Wheat Cranberry Walnut, baguettes, and ciabatta.
Some of our other breads and baked goods have the addition of active yeast.
We have many customers with gluten sensitivity who are able to eat our bread. This is because of the nature of sourdough—the longer fermentation process allows the bacteria to pre-digest much of the carbohydrate (sugars) and proteins (gluten) of the flour. This makes sourdough well-tolerated among those with digestive issues.
That being said, everyone is different with different sensitivities. Give our bread a try, and if you find it still doesn’t agree with you, we offer 100% money-back guarantee.
For more info on gluten and sourdough, check this link: www.bonappetit.com/story/gluten-sensitive-sourdough
Sorry, we do not offer gluten-free bread at the moment.
However, as discussed above, because the fermentation process breaks down some of the gluten, sourdough bread has been shown to be well-tolerated by those who have a less severe reaction to gluten and are gluten intolerant.
Most of our bread is naturally vegan, including our Country White, Whole Wheat, Whole Wheat Cranberry+Walnut, baguettes, and ciabatta.
Our bread keeps well on the countertop wrapped in a towel or cloth for 2-3 days.
For longer storage, and to preserve the freshest taste, we recommend freezing. Seal tightly in a ziplock bag, or double wrap with cling film, and then just remove slices as needed, popping in the toaster or oven for a few minutes to thaw and re-heat. Bread will keep in freezer for 2-3 months.
If stored in a plastic bag, the crust will soften. However longer term we don’t recommend keeping the bread in a plastic bag, as it can trap moisture and cause the bread to get soft or moldy. Likewise we don’t recommend the fridge, as the bread can get dried out and stale.
Pro-tip: for a bread loaf that has gone a bit stale or dry (this includes baguettes and ciabatta) try this: place the bread under running water for a few seconds, and then pop in a heated oven for 5-10 minutes. The bread will be moist and chewy as if freshly baked!
For more details see here: www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/how-to-revive-stale-bread