What Is Sourdough?
True sourdough is a natural leavening agent resulting from bacteria feeding on wild yeasts. The bacteria found in sourdough are strains of lactobacillus, and these are what gives sourdough breads their distinctive and tangy flavor.
Yeast can be found in the soil or the air and it thrives on the surface of most grains, as well as some fruits and vegetables.
The yeast and lactobacilli co-exist in a symbiotic relationship. The yeast feeds the lactobacilli, and in return, the lactobacilli create a form of acid that the yeast thrives in. It is this acidity that gives sourdough its sour taste.
Both the yeast and lactobacilli help the bread to rise, thereby making it unnecessary to add any other form of leavening during the bread making process.
Sourdough is most closely associated with the city of San Francisco. In fact, the dough became so synonymous with the area that the early gold miners earned the nickname for themselves.
What Is Sourdough Bread?
Sour bread, which is usually written as one word i.e. sourbread – is the term given to any bread that has a sour flavor, but is not derived from an actual sourdough starter culture.
In today’s world of large-scale industrial baking and artificial sourdough flavoring, the term ‘sourdough’ is now used more loosely. It tends to be used for any bread that has a tangy or sour or tangy bite to it.
However, only breads made with the actual sourdough culture are in fact, true sourdoughs. Comparing sourdough and sour bread (a more accurate term for those only using sour flavoring) will help you to understand the differences.
The most important thing when comparing sourdough and sourbread is the different flavors and how good each one tastes. While manufacturers do an okay job of achieving a sourdough flavor, there is absolutely nothing that compares to the real thing.
Another major difference is that true sourdough works as its own leavening agent, whereas on the other hand the artificial sourbreads always require some sort of leavening added, because otherwise they just won’t rise.
Is Sourdough Bread Healthy?
As a fermented food, sourdough bread does have immense health benefits, including supplying beneficial bacteria to balance the intestinal flora and make digestion easier. The lactic acid fermentation not only helps to preserve the bread, but it also increases the available nutrients for our body.
Sourdough bread pre-digests starches, making the bread more easily digestible. It lowers insulin response and improving tolerance to glucose. It protects the Vitamin B1 from the damage of the heat of baking. And it breaks down gluten which can make a bread that is edible for people who are gluten sensitive.
Sourdough activates phytase to dissolve the phytates, and this frees up valuable minerals including zinc, iron, magnesium, copper and phosphorus.
What Is Sourdough Bread Starter?
A true sourdough starter is made of yeast and lactobacilli bacteria mixed with flour and some liquid. A certain amount of the dough is always set aside when baking a batch of bread. In this way, the sourdough can last indefinitely.
There are some families and bakeries that have sourdough cultures that have been passed down for generations. Now that is a genuine sourdough!
If you try making homemade bread with a true sourdough starter, you will see how much better it tastes. In fact, it would be a pretty safe bet on my part to say that you will probably never want to buy another loaf of the imitation sour bread again.
Cultured foods are so beneficial for our health, and it is excellent to add them in to your diet where ever you can
If you would like to give it a try, I have some information on how to make your own sourbread starter here: Sourdough Starter Recipe