About Sourdough – some links and resources

http://www.sourdough.com/  My personal favorite forum for sourdough bakers.

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/ – a good blog site about sourdough for home bakers (i.e. if you like, make your own instead of buying from FRB!)

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/ – another fantastic baker forum, again mainly for the home baker but quite a few artisan bakers are on this site too.

http://www.ranprieur.com/misc/sourdough.html – introduction to Sourdough with many other links at bottom of page including:

http://www.ranprieur.com/readings/natleavbread.html – more from same about naturally leavened breads – does not recommend sourdough whites (which I like!)

http://earthstar.newlibertyvillage.com/fermentedbreads.htm – facts about naturally leavened breads, not detailed and relatively short introduction.

http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-7-37.pdf – scientific study conducted in University of Guelph.

http://www.natures-health-foods.com/sourdough.html – article describing scientific study above which found – to its surprise – that those eating white sourdough did better than those eating whole grain breads. However, these latter were not sourdough. My suspicion is that white sourdough is better than non-sourdough anything, but that whole grain sourdough – properly made – is better than white sourdough because there is so much more nutritional content in the whole grains. Also, some ‘whole wheat’ loaves (and flours in supermarkets) are not the real thing, i.e. they are made of previously separated white flours and bran which are then mixed together. My flours are stone ground whole grains (or fresh ground at FRB with my grain mill) which grind down the whole grain all together, i.e. a veritable ‘whole’ grain whole grain versus a simulated one. So ‘whole wheat’ and ‘whole grain’ are not the same. These things make a difference because the original synergy of the original grain and all its ingredients/components therein characteristic of a natural, living organism is thereby maintained, whereas the industrialized version has first had all its ingredients ‘killed’, i.e. no longer active in any synergistic/organismic sense, and then re-combined these ‘dead’ ingredients together in typical pseudo-scientific fashion.

http://www.uoguelph.ca/news/2008/07/sourdough_bread.html – another article citing the same study as above but also without detail.

http://www.producer.com/Farm-Living/Article.aspx?aid=16910 – better article about same study – white sourdough was the best. Excerpt:

The other surprise from Graham’s study was that sourdough bread came out on top, because it was the best at regulating blood sugar levels, an essential trait for diabetics and a health benefit for most consumers.

“You want to see the smallest rise in blood sugars…. With the sourdough bread, we saw the best responses in blood sugar.”

Steve Ciu, an Agriculture Canada research scientist who worked with Graham on the study, explained that sourdough provides a different form of carbohydrate than other breads.

The fermentation process to make sourdough produces oligosaccharides, a carbohydrate found in legumes, onions and asparagus, which has three to 10 simple sugar molecules linked in a chain.

“This material (oligosaccharides) cannot be digested by our enzymes … they will stay in the body and cannot be digested (in the stomach or small intestine),” said Ciu.

Instead the carbohydrate slips into the large intestine where it ferments to produce beneficial fatty acids.

Because this type of carbohydrate is digested much more slowly, blood sugar levels do not spike immediately after eating sourdough bread.

Following this study, Graham began looking at subjects’ blood sugars after they ate whole grain bread for breakfast.

“(Whole wheat) is very different from whole grain,” he said. “(With whole grain) you’re going to have more of the important nutrients beyond starch. You’re going to have all of the bran and all of the wheat germ. So you’re getting fibre and a number of vitamins.”

Although the study is not yet published, Graham said it showed that whole grain breads are indeed better at controlling blood sugar than whole wheat, but the results varied from bread to bread.

“I’d love to be able to tell your readers that all the whole grain breads are really good. But you could see different responses depending on which of the products (was consumed),” he said.

Asked what type of bread he eats, Graham said he prefers sourdough whole grain breads.

http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/497-be-kind-to-your-grains.html – about benefits of whole grains. As of October 2010 FRB offers a 100% Whole Grain Sourdough. As of November 2010 FRB is offering a Vollkornbrot comprising 90% fresh-ground Whole Grain wheat and 10% organic Rye (sometimes fresh-ground, but usually basic stone-ground organic) along with some seeds (usually flax, pumpkin and sunflower). This is about as healthy as you can get and although decidedly more brick-like in look and texture, has a relatively light crumb on the palate and, more importantly, in the stomach. Personally, I am very pleased and proud of this offering and hope that most of my customers will increasingly turn to it as a regular weekly item.


Grains require careful preparation because they contain a number of antinutrients that can cause serious health problems. Phytic acid, for example, is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. It is mostly found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.

Other antinutrients in whole grains include enzyme inhibitors which can inhibit digestion and put stress on the pancreas; irritating tannins; complex sugars which the body cannot break down; and gluten and related hard-to-digest proteins which may cause allergies, digestive disorders and even mental illness.

Most of these antinutrients are part of the seed’s system of preservation—they prevent sprouting until the conditions are right. Plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in order to sprout. Proper preparation of grains is a kind and gentle process that imitates the process that occurs in nature. It involves soaking for a period in warm, acidulated water in the preparation of porridge, or long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of bread. Such processes neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

Animals that nourish themselves on primarily on grain and other plant matter have as many as four stomachs. Their intestines are longer, as is the entire digestion transit time. Man, on the other hand, has but one stomach and a much shorter intestine compared to herbivorous animals. These features of his anatomy allow him to pass animal products before they putrefy in the gut but make him less well adapted to a diet high in grains—unless, of course, he prepares them properly. When grains are properly prepared through soaking, sprouting or sour leavening, the friendly bacteria of the microscopic world do some of our digesting for us in a container, just as these same lactobacilli do their work in the first and second stomachs of the herbivores.

So the well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice, can be misleading and harmful in its consequences; for while our ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them as presented in our modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas, bran preparations and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions. Our ancestors, and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world will prove our point: In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas; in Africa the natives soak coarsely ground corn overnight before adding it to soups and stews and they ferment corn or millet for several days to produce a sour porridge called ogi; a similar dish made from oats was traditional among the Welsh; in some Oriental and Latin American countries rice receives a long fermentation before it is prepared; Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes, called pozol, are fermented for several days and for as long as two weeks in banana leaves; before the introduction of commercial brewers yeast, Europeans made slow-rise breads from fermented starters; in America the pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes and biscuits; and throughout Europe grains were soaked overnight, and for as long as several days, in water or soured milk before they were cooked and served as porridge or gruel. (Many of our senior citizens may remember that in earlier times the instructions on the oatmeal box called for an overnight soaking.)

Bread can be the staff of life, but modern technology has turned our bread—even our whole grain bread—into a poison. Grains are laced with pesticides during the growing season and in storage; they are milled at high temperatures so that their fatty acids turn rancid. Rancidity increases when milled flours are stored for long periods of time, particularly in open bins. The bran and germ are often removed and sold separately, when Mother Nature intended that they be eaten together with the carbohydrate portion; they’re baked as quick rise breads so that antinutrients remain; synthetic vitamins and an unabsorbable form of iron added to white flour can cause numerous imbalances; dough conditioners, stabilizers, preservatives and other additives add insult to injury.

Cruelty to grains in the making of breakfast cereals is intense. Slurries of grain are forced through tiny holes at high temperatures and pressures in giant extruders, a process that destroys nutrients and turns the proteins in grains into veritable poisons. Westerners pay a lot for expensive breakfast cereals that snap, crackle and pop, including the rising toll of poor health.

The final indignity to grains is that we treat them as loners, largely ignorant of other dietary factors needed for the nutrients they provide. Fat-soluble vitamins A and D found in animal fats like butter, lard and cream help us absorb calcium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and the many other vitamins that grains provide. Porridge eaten with cream will do us a thousand times more good than cold breakfast cereal consumed with skim milk; sourdough whole grain bread with butter or whole cheese is a combination that contributes to optimal health.

Be kind to your grains. . . and your grains will deliver their promise as the staff of life. Buy only organic whole grains and soak them overnight to make porridge or casseroles; or grind them into flour with a home grinder and make your own sour dough bread and baked goods. For those who lack the time for breadmaking, kindly-made whole grain breads are now available. Look for organic, stone ground, sprouted or sour dough whole grain breads and enjoy them with butter or cheese.

Copyright: From: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. © 1999. All Rights Reserved.  To order Nourishing Traditions, go to www.newtrendspublishing.com.

May 25: http://www.danreid.org/health-alerts-sour-dough-health.asp About the cancer-curing benefits of authentic sourdough bread. Excerpt: Poorly-prepared and poorly-digested wheat is the chief contributor to the current plague of “gluten-intolerance,” obesity, diabetes, Candida diseases and many allergenic conditions all of which contribute to the conditions that cause cancer. Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented is it healthy for human consumption. When not it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. It is similar to the controversy with soy which also can only be considered a health food if it is fermented long enough. Correctly fermented wheat contains 18 amino acids (proteins), complex carbohydrate (a super efficient source of energy), B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium, and maltase. Excerpt 2:  “There are several advantages to stone-ground wheat flour. The endosperm, bran, and germ remain in their natural, original proportions. Because the stones grind slowly, the wheat germ is not exposed to excessive temperatures. Heat causes the fat from the germ portion to oxidize and become rancid and much of the vitamins to be destroyed (Aubert, 1989). The nutritional importance of using fresh stone-ground grains for bread-making was revealed in the results of feeding studies in Germany (Bernasek, 1970). Rats were fed diets consisting of 50% flour or bread. Group 1 consumed fresh stone-ground flour. Group 2 was fed bread made with this flour. Group 3 consumed the same flour as group 1 but after 15 days of storage. Group 4 was fed bread made with the flour fed to group 3. A fifth group consumed white flour. After four generations, only the rats fed fresh stone-ground flour and those fed the bread made with it maintained their fertility. The rats in groups 3 to 5 had become infertile. Four generations for rats is believed to be equivalent to one hundred years in humans.”

July 11: revisiting an old link already on the page (immediately preceding this one!) about the potential benefits of sourdough breads: Quote: “ Most of us do not know that before the 1950’s most bakeries ran 2 shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow natural fermentation process. The very first things corporate bakers did to increase profits was to introduce the fast loaf (3 hours from start to finish), effectively eliminating the need for this second shift of workers. This seemingly innocuous cost-cutting decision would prove to have an incredible impact on our health as have a host of commercial processes in the food and agricultural areas. The catastrophic changes in bakery procedures were a disaster that went largely unnoticed and today some bakeries produce some bread in just 40 minutes from start of dough to baked finish. The general public has become conditioned to commercial bread products and is uninformed about the effects of the commercial processing that regular bread undergoes. Free of commercial yeast, sourdough breads have an aroma and distinctive flavors all of their own and are naturally leavened by a fermented starter. Very basic sourdough bread that had once been fermented for a healthy 8 hours or more is not to be found anywhere except in ones own kitchen today.” Well, at least at FRB I can proudly state that all breads have at least 16 hours fermentation, most between 18 and 22, and that doesn’t count the important soaking phase beforehand which is between eight and twelve hours, meaning that some doughs get over thirty hours processing. The original article/link: May 25: http://www.danreid.org/health-alerts-sour-dough-health.asp About the cancer-curing benefits of authentic sourdough bread.

Oct 24: http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/sourdough.htm Something I hadn’t read or noticed before: authentic sourdough fermentation creates proteins making sourdough bread a high protein item. I don’t know if this is true or not, but this is what it says: ” Sourdough turns Carbohydrates into Proteins? by Chef Cookie Soles I would like to share a bit of research I came across recently concerning “Sourdough”. What originally caught my eye was an analysis of laboratory tests. They say that Sourdough contains the greatest amount of protein for it’s weight and size of any comparable food. “Hmm” I thought “just how does that come about when it’s ingredients are all carbohydrates?” Apparently a wild yeast forms in the fermentation process of the starter. At that stage, a starch food is turned into a protein dynamo food.” Whether or not this is completely accurate – and I suspect it is – it brings to the fore one of the principal dynamics involved in authentic fermentation cookery, namely the highly transformative nature of the process wherein time, temperature and naturally living and feeding microorganisms all work together to change one or two things (grain and water) into something entirely different. A seed changes into a tree, grains into delicious, nourishing bread that ends up being something quite different than how it began with the help of many other life forms in the process.

Oct 24: http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/ Interesting little site, this page about various food history stories… I put it in Sourdough section, not sure why.


One thought on “About Sourdough – some links and resources

  1. Pingback: Sourdough Saturday – Rosemary Olive Oil Sourdough « WineBarrelGourmet’s Blog

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