Time is the main reason why sourdough bread is healthier and much better for you. We should be cautious anytime we hear quick and easy. We’ve all heard the saying: “good things take time” and it’s true for bread also! The levain (sourdough) activates your bread mix and breaks down the grains in the flour, so that its nutrias are ready for your body when you eat the bread.
I’m going to share with you all about why sourdough bread is healthier and much better for you. Sourdough is the best bread you could eat!
Why is sourdough bread good?
I’m not a health expert, so I will be speaking in laments terms and explaining with analogies.
To walk you through why sourdough bread is good for you, I will share with you the ingredients in sourdough bread, the fermentation process, and finally the health benefits of sourdough bread.
What is sourdough bread?
Sourdough bread ingredients
The ingredients in a sourdough bread is flour, water, levain (sourdough starter – more on this in a moment) and salt.
What is sourdough levain?
Above I mentioned that one of the ingredients in a sourdough bread is called “levain”. You can choose to make your own levain with flour and water.
When flour and water are left on your counter for a few days, the flour and water will become alive. Yes, really! Alive! This is because the flour and water mixture “catches” yeast from things in the environment that surrounds it, which make home in your flour/water mixture. Sounds kind of gross, but this natural yeast is really beneficial.
How did sourdough start?
Most believe that the sourdough levin came from ancient Egypt, it is said that the sourdough levain came from someone who left flour and water out by accident and it started bubbling after a few days. Now, this is exactly what happens when you begin a sourdough starter.
Understanding sourdough: the sour animal analogy
To make is easy to understand, I refer to this sourdough starter as a Sour Animal. The reason I refer to it as an animal, is because it grows and needs to be kept alive. To keep it alive, you need to feed it water and food (flour).
To keep the animal from becoming too big and eating too much, you toss nearly most of the animal each time you feed it. Or, keep the discard in your fridge for other recipes. In the fridge, the growing process will slow down. The discard will keep in the fridge for 2-ish weeks.
Keeping a sourdough starter: the child analogy
A way to understand how to keep a sourdough starter, is to think of it as a child. Imagine that your sourdough starter is a two year old child. Just like any child, the more you feed it the more it grows. That is why you keep “throwing away” some of the child, so that it stays “small” – i.e. it stays a young child. Alright, that isn’t the greatest analogy. But the point is, that you need to keep the child “small”, otherwise you will run into a greater waste problem.
What will happen if I don’t discard when feeding my sourdough?
If you don’t throw away any starter, the “child” will keep growing and growing, and require more food each time you feed it. Now, you can imagine the issue this would become right?
If you don’t feed it as much as it needs, it will start acting funny, looking funky, and smelling frisky! Thinking about it… what growing child will respond well when left hungry?
Why is sourdough bread healthy?
Now that you know what sourdough is, we can discuss why sourdough bread is healthy for you.
There is a reason why most people could easily live from flour and water. Together, these two ingredients created a food that is both sustaining and nutritious.
It’s magical really. I mean, most baking is kind of natural if you consider them chemical process that occurs when you mix certain ingredients.
But bread is another kind of special, in that this flour and water mixture becomes alive as sourdough.
The reason sourdough bread is healthier for you, is because the grains are fermented.
If you haven’t heard it before, the reason fermented food is really healthy for you is because there is healthy bacteria living in the food. The healthy bacteria help to break down the food so that it is easier for our bodies to absorb its nutrients.
Similarly in the sourdough process, the long fermentation process allow the grains to be broken down in time and the nutrients to be released.
When we use instant yeast, the process is sped up but the ferment process is skipped.
This of sourdough as a little shark fish, chewing at grain kernels and eating off the outer layer exposing the inside matter which hold the nutrients.
How to ferment bread
So the sourdough is your yeast! It is the natural yeast that will raise your bread into a loaf.
There are many recipes out there that you can follow to start a sourdough starter, keep a sourdough starter, and bake a sourdough bread loaf. I learned from Ken Forkish in his book “Flour Water Salt Yeast” and follow his sourdough recipes. You could also find helpful sourdough tips from an advent bread baker Lisa, from Farmhouse on Boone.
You could also watch our video tutorial making our weekly sourdough loaves on Youtube: “Sourdough bread is healthier and much better for you video“.
Health benefits of sourdough bread
Finally, the health benefits of sourdough bread are bountiful!
The parts of a grain kernel are so intricately created, it envelopes a host well being. It may sound cliche, but it’s truly life giving. No wonder, humans can survive on bread and water.
To really get the picture, you need to view a grain kernel (sometimes called a wheat berry). See here: https://kswheat.com/news/make-half-your-servings-whole…grain. When you click on the picture of a grain kernel, you will see the amount of detail in the fabric of this nutrient packed pod.
The nutrients in a grain kernel include: fibre, B vitamins (thiatim, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid), protein, iron, unsaturated fats, antioxidants. There are many different varieties of grains, some higher in certain nutrients that others. What diversity we have to choose and benefit from!
Sourdough unpacks the grain kernel
Now, the grain pod needs unpacking. It is first broken when crushed into flour. It further breaks through the sourdough fermentation. This is when the sourdough starter is added to your bread mix and left overnight. The levain (sourdough starter) gets to work and unpacks the grains by eating at the cell structures. Imagine then, that these organisms are farting. Yes.. farting bubbles into your bread mix. When you bake the bread with the bubbles, you end with a perfectly baked sourdough bread loaf.
Questions about the nutrition of sourdough bread
Let’s tackle a few questions so you leave well informed that sourdough is the best bread!
What makes sourdough bread good for you?
The sourdough starter that the bread is made from, is an active natural yeast. When this is added to the bread mix, it breaks down the grains in the flour. This makes it easier for your body to digest all of the nutrients in the flour.
Is sourdough bread good for you?
Yes, the sourdough bread undergoes a slow fermentation process when the sourdough starter is added to the bread mix. This breaks down the grain layers in your flour to bring the nutrients to the forefront, and easier for your body to consume.
Is homemade bread healthier?
Homemade bread isn’t necessarily better for you. Nutrition is dependent on a several factor: the quality of flour, a sourdough starter that allows the fermentation process of the bread mix (as opposed to instant yeast), and time for the fermentation to take place (usually several hours or overnight).
Is sourdough bread healthier for you?
Given the fermentation process that follows when sourdough starter is added to a bread mix, the active yeast and fermentation time makes for a healthier bread than commercial bread purchased in supermarkets. However, a sourdough bread from the grocery store may still not be the real deal. The key is in the label stating “long fermentation”, otherwise there is a chance that the fermentation process did not occur for the necessary time to break down the grains, as we discussed above.
What are the benefits of sourdough bread?
Grain kernels (otherwise known as wheat berries) are packed with a life giving meal. But what makes a sourdough loaf beneficial is the active yeast in the sourdough starter. Imagine that the sourdough starter is an active yeast that eats at the flour grains and farts the nutrients into the bread mix. These are the bubbles in the bread dough before it is baked, and later the air pockets in the bread itself.
The gassy nutrients in the form of bubbles (after eaten by the sourdough starter and farted into the mix) is the way that our bodies best absorb nutrients from flour grains.
When the sourdough starter is introduced to a flour/water mix, in time it will rise and create bubbles.
Now that you know how healthy sourdough bread is for you, you can enjoy your next slice with a smile!
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