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Making Sourdough Bread Comes Full Circle — FermentWorks

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Sourdough is the ultimate fermented bread. A good starter has a unique mix of yeast and bacteria that have honestly worked it. Microbes are not looking to be cooperative, they are all trying to feed themselves, but in a sourdough starter, the populations have come to a harmonious place that is delicious! Not to mention healthy! Did you know some of the most exciting research in reducing gluten in wheat comes from the University of Bari in Bari, Italy? In 2006 they reported a breakthrough. By utilizing 10 lactobacilli species typical in sourdough fermentation and fermenting wheat for 24 hours in a very wet mixture, they were able to nearly totally hydrolyze the gluten — so much so that when they created baked products with the sourdough and fed them to confirmed celiac disease patients, those patients reported no adverse effects[i]. While their results were encouraging, they hinted in the report that they were working on something even better: combining the lactobacillus with fungus. For obvious reasons, we got pretty excited about this and began searching for their more recent work. What we found was pretty incredible. In a study in 2010 [ii], researchers refined the lactobacilli mix and added Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus niger; the result was a reduction in the gluten in the wheat flour from 103,127 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm. That is half the typical lowest detectable concentration level of 20 ppm and was shown to be digestible by participants with celiac disease with no adverse reactions. Researchers continue to refine the process and the team of microbes being used, but it gives the estimated 1 percent of the planet’s population that suffers from celiac disease — plus the many more that suffer from gluten intolerance — hope that their gluten-free baked goods will no longer necessarily equate to wheat-free.Christopher is the baker in our family. For years he made all of our bread, and then, who knows why our habits changed, and he stopped. Luckily we had a delicious local baker and didn’t think much of it. In the last few weeks, though, Christopher has been back to baking all of our bread. As I write this, the house smells of the bread baking; yes, hot buttered fresh bread is for breakfast. We will never be sourdough teachers, but there are some great bakers out there teaching all the wonders of baking with sourdough. We love the book SOURDOUGH by Sarah Owens. There is also a great class on Rye Sourdough at The Fermentation School.[i] [[Gobbetti 2007]][ii] [[Di Cagno 2010]]

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