What is Sourdough Bread?
One of the oldest known forms of grain fermentation, sourdough bread is believed to have originated in ancient Egypt around 1,500 BC.
Traditional sourdough differs from most of the breads you’ll find in bakeries or supermarkets, as rather than commercial yeast its fermentation relies on wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour to leaven (rise) the bread.
The mix of wild yeast, lactic acid bacteria, flour and water used to make the sourdough starter is what helps the bread rise and give it the characteristic sourdough taste. The fermentation process of sourdough is much longer than standard breads, creating its unique texture.
Sourdough breads bought from a shop are often not made using the traditional sourdough method, thereby reducing their health benefits. A ‘true’ sourdough bread is made from a live starter and follows the traditional fermentation and baking process outlined in the baking guide included in our Sourdough Starter Kits.
Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread
Aside from the amazing taste, there are many benefits to switching from standard store-bought bread to traditional homemade sourdough, such as:
- Sourdough bread contains higher levels of folate and antioxidants than other breads.
- Sourdough bread is often easier to digest and better for gut health than bread that's fermented with commercial yeast, due to its superior ability to degrade gluten. While our Sourdough Starter kits do contain gluten and are therefore not suitable for people with Coeliac Disease, those with a mild sensitivity to gluten may find that sourdough sits better with their gut than store-bought bread. The Guardian reports that “what’s beyond doubt is that when people switch from supermarket to sourdough bread, they’re often delighted to find they can eat it without bloated belly discomfort”.
- Sourdough bread has been found to have a better effect on blood sugar and insulin levels than other types of bread, with a Glycemic Index (GI).
- Studies show that the lactic acid bacteria present in sourdough bread have the ability to release antioxidants during sourdough fermentation.
- Bread in general is a significant source of dietary minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, however with store-made bread the nutrients often pass straight through the body without being absorbed. This is mainly due to the presence of phytic acid, which interferes with the absorption of certain nutrients. The longer fermentation time of sourdough works to neutralise phytic acid and make the minerals more bioavailable, so the body absorbs more of the good stuff.
- Store-bought bread often contains preservatives and additives to increase its shelf-life, whereas our sourdough contains only natural ingredients.
Further reading about the history and health benefits of Sourdough bread: