Naturally Leavened Sourdough Bread
Home-baked bread is truly a gift from
the heart and sourdough bread is an especially satisfying
and healthy choice. Free of commercial yeast, sourdough breads
have an aroma and a distinctive flavor all their own and are naturally
leavened by a fermented starter.
Bread was first leavened by the Egyptians around 2300 BC. They discovered that a mixture of flour and water left uncovered
for several days bubbled and expanded. If mixed into unleavened dough
and allowed to stand for a few hours before baking, it yields a light
sweet bread. This kind of natural leavening remained the basis of
Western bread baking until the 20th century when bread made from
commercially prepared yeast was introduced.
Naturally leavened breads rise over time (6 to 8 hours)
by the action of wild yeast spores drawn into the sourdough starter
from the air. Mixing the starter with more flour and water and a little
salt forms bread dough. As the unique and complex family of friendly
bacteria thrives on the nutrient-rich whole grain flour and
mineral-rich salt, they produce carbon dioxide gas. Fermentation
continues, and the leavening or expansion of the bread dough creates
a fine-grained, moist texture.
In addition to being naturally leavened, home-baked sourdough
breads offer other nutritional benefits because it contains only the
highest quality ingredients such as organic whole-grain flours, purified
water, and unrefined mineral-rich Celtic Sea Salt®. With great-tasting
flours, the addition of oil and sweetener is unnecessary
because the grain itself tastes rich from the oil in the germ, and
sweet from the natural complex sugars in the grain, especially when
it is freshly ground.
Why Naturally Leavened Bread?
The fermented quality of naturally
leavened bread has several healthful advantages over yeasted
breads. Yeasted breads are risen very quickly by a refined yeast strain
that has been isolated in a laboratory under controlled conditions,
using a process we could never duplicate in our kitchens.
In the process of making sourdough bread, during the rising
time (called proofing), bran in the flour is broken down, releasing
nutrients into the dough. In particular, the phytic acid (phytin)
in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals, concentrated
in the bran, to be absorbed by the human body. According
to the experiments done in Belgium, phytin can be neutralized by
natural bacterial action and to a lesser extent, by baking. In naturally
leavened bread, the combination eliminates all phytin, while in yeasted
bread about 90% remains.
Furthermore, with sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates
are broken down into more digestible simple sugars and protein
is broken down into amino acids. Enzymes develop during proofing
which are not lost in baking since the center of the loaf remains
at a lower temperature than the crust.
It’s the fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, that
makes eating good quality bread an aid to digestion of all complex
carbohydrate foods including other grains, beans, and vegetables.
It helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract, resulting
in proper assimilation and elimination. These beneficial bacteria
candida albicans, whereas baker’s
yeast is a pro-candida organism. This is a brown bread that
truly is "the staff of life" as it enhances the whole immune system.
People with allergies to commercially yeasted breads may
not have the same sensitivities to naturally leavened whole grain
sourdough bread. The cause may be either the wheat and/or the yeast.
Often, people who are sensitive to yeasted white bread do not react
to whole wheat bread. Others, who are sensitive to whole wheat bread,
do not react when the leavening used is natural sourdough
starter, and especially when the flour is freshly ground. Another
approach is spelt flour instead of wheat flour. Spelt is the original
strain of bread wheat from Europe, and it has not been hybridized.
Rye flour is another choice that is nice used in small amounts.
Bread and grain-based diets, especially at the beginning,
give the illusion that they do not readily digest. Natural leaven
bread, because of its inherent beneficial ferments, slowly recreates
the population of friendly lactobacillus digestive bacteria in the
absorption tract. The end result is a recovery of digestion and proper
elimination by the effective action of friendly bacteria.
Natural leaven bread provides more stable nutrition than that obtained
mechanically by non-fermented (and thus non- pre-digested) bran and
other raw or cooked roughage diets, since these only succeed in physically
abrading and irritating the colon.
Modern Breads as a Potential Cause
You may be surprised to learn that
conventionally yeasted breads have been linked to cancer.
True sourdough bread is naturally fermented. It is yeast free and
requires several hours to rise before baking. In contrast, conventionally
yeasted bread uses a high concentration of an isolated yeast strain
to make bread rise within minutes. In an article, published in 1984
in East-West Journal, Ronald Kotsch describes why conventionally
yeasted bread contributes to disease.
"In (conventional) yeast fermentation,
the starch cells of the bread actually explode. The patterns they
form are identical to those of cancer cells. According to French researcher
Jean Claude Vincent, the bio-electrical energy of the dough also
is identical to that of cancer cells."
German and Swiss researchers concur
with Vincent that this fast-acting yeast sends an electrical message
to the body for the cells to mimic this exploding replication. This
is cancer. Beyond these facts, sourdough bread may win you over by
its taste alone. It is wonderful, chewy, old-world bread.
See our EarthStar Recipe for naturally fermented bread at http://earthstar.noaus.org/sourdoughrecipe.htm