CBC article about benefits of sourdough fermenation viz. gluten


A loaf from Fry's Red Wheat Bread in Victoria, B.C.

A loaf from Fry's Red Wheat Bread in Victoria, B.C. (courtesy Fry's Bakery)

“The demand for gluten-free products continues to grow and sales are expected to double by 2017 in Canada.

The anti-gluten trend is fuelled by the belief that, even for people not suffering from Celiac disease, wheat can cause health problems.

A handful of recent studies have some good news for those trying to reduce the amount of gluten they eat — old-fashioned sourdough baking techniques significantly cut gluten content in bread .

Byron FryByron Fry is the owner of the wood-fired sourdough bakery. (Khalil Akhtar/CBC)

Byron Fry runs a wood-fired sourdough bakery in Victoria, B.C. The fermentation process starts here with nothing but freshly ground wheat flour and water. The rest is up to the various yeasts that are floating around us that make themselves at home in the bubbling dough.

The result is a slightly sour loaf with cavernous holes throughout and before the advent of commercial yeasts, this was how bread was made.

“We’re starting with a long overnight sourdough fermentation that’s really full of lactic bacteria, that starts to break down and enrich the flavours of the bread and also break down the gluten and give a battery of enzymes and sourdough activity,” Fry explains.

“In the end, it’s airy and bubbly and then we craft those into loaves. They rest for even longer… and then they go into a 500 degree oven and bake for an hour and then they’re pulled out, allowed to cool… and then its food.”

This is all without that trusty jar of yeast that has become ubiquitous in modern bread baking. Most packaged supermarket loaves go from flour to plastic bag in a matter of a few hours.

But that quick rise doesn’t allow time for fermentation and that means the gluten isn’t processed by that community of microbes living in the dough.

Bread from Fry's BakeryAn assortment of breads on offer at Fry’s Bakery. (courtesy Fry’s Bakery)

A  team of Italian scientists led by Luigi Greco at the University of Naples authored a 2010 study that showed significantly lower levels of gluten in sourdough made according to old methods.

The difference was so stark that celiacs in the study were able to consume the sourdough with no ill effects.

That’s something Byron Fry sees in his bakery every day. He says the vast majority of his customers are people who were previously gluten-free.

The return of sourdough baking techniques isn’t only a boon to people who have trouble with gluten. It also means a return to the idea that bread from different places should taste different.

A sourdough starter made on the shores of Vancouver Island will be home to a different ecosystem of microbes than one in Montreal or Italy — which may lend some credence to the idea that the famous and historic San Francisco sourdough can only truly exist in San Francisco.”

NOTE:  I have read other articles showing how the San Francisco yeasts exist naturally in peoples’ mouths all over the world. However, it is true that bread with the same flour and technique varies from place to place, and also baker to baker. I don’t pretend to know exactly how this works, but suspect that along with differing varieties of local yeasts and bacteria in the fields where the grain is grown – which I believe comprise 95+% of the ones that end up fermenting the dough – different recurring levels of temperature and humidity make significant difference to an ongoing population. Most bakers keep a mother starter which is regularly added to, but also develops over time in more or less similar conditions, be it in a cellar, a refrigerator, refreshed every few hours in a home that is typically around 20C etc. This explains also why bread from two different bakers on the same street is so different. In any case, I have linked elsewhere on this site that 2010 Italian study and have mentioned its results to several passing-by non-clients who mention they are gluten intolerant or actual celiacs, but when I mention that Italian celiacs can eat slow-fermented sourdoughs, they clearly disbelieve me.

I will put this article out on my booth so they can see I am not making this up!!


The Great Gluten-Free scam

From The Telegraph:


The great gluten-free scam

Once, pasta and bread were store cupboard staples. Now, many of us are replacing them with ‘healthier’ gluten-free foods. But are they really better for us?

The Gluten Free Aisle in The Fresh Market Grocery Store in South Carolina, USA

This is the first hard-hitting anti-gluten-free piece I have read, and as someone who sells ‘normal’ breads, I try to keep up with the issue whilst staying out of any arguments. This article does – in my opinion rightly – mention that quite possibly the ‘killer’ in modern bread is not gluten, per se, but overly rapid fermentation techniques derived from the Chorleywood method in the 60’s. I would go further back to emphasis on mainly or exclusively white flour, using flours stored far too long, aka not fresh at all, additives to preserve flour life and baked bread life, single-strain beer yeast fermentation used in fast several-hour vs 18-24 hour methods and so forth.

I suspect there are some excellent gluten-free products for celiacs and those wishing to reduce normal bread consumption but also that it’s the same as with finding and eating good food everywhere these days: if it’s in a package with long shelf life, chances are that

a) it’s not all that good for you anyway, though there are exceptions of course and

b) probably it’s manufactured for profit by food corporation which cuts endless corners so in fact is little better than junk. You can have gluten-free junk food as well as any other type of junk-food.

In any case, right or wrong, I continue to believe that slow-fermentation with organic ingredients is the right way to make ‘real bread’, and that such real bread is not only okay but in fact actually good for us as it was for thousands of years until only very recently when we introduced post-industrial, commercial, large volume ‘manufacturing’ practices (which most home bakers follow without realising using single strain yeast, kneading, fast fermentation, old flours etc. etc. ) and so that is what I shall continue to offer!




Joanne Lipman
Sept. 27, 2013 7:17 p.m. ET
I had a teacher once who called his students “idiots” when they screwed up. He was our orchestra conductor, a fierce Ukrainian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky, and when someone played out of tune, he would stop the entire group to yell, “Who eez deaf in first violins!?” He made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil.

Today, he’d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years’ worth of former students and colleagues flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the country, old instruments in tow, to play a concert in his memory. I was among them, toting my long-neglected viola. When the curtain rose on our concert that day, we had formed a symphony orchestra the size of the New York Philharmonic.

Mr. K began teaching at East Brunswick High School when it opened in 1958. Kupchynsky Family

I was stunned by the outpouring for the gruff old teacher we knew as Mr. K. But I was equally struck by the success of his former students. Some were musicians, but most had distinguished themselves in other fields, like law, academia and medicine. Research tells us that there is a positive correlation between music education and academic achievement. But that alone didn’t explain the belated surge of gratitude for a teacher who basically tortured us through adolescence.”

This has little to do wtih baking, although somewhere in there is a mention of a generally accepted conclusion that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master anything. Based on that, I still have a ways to go with making good bread, and actually that’s how it feels – I still feel that am at the level of intermediate, not even advanced intermediate, and quite possibly only advanced beginner.
The point, though, is that I recommend reading the whole article for I think it nails aspects of what has been increasingly wrong with contemporary ‘developed’ societies. It’s not conspiracy theory, it’s not political or financial, but by simply focusing on one topic – academic or learning outcomes, and how they are positively affected by ‘tough’ disciplinary approaches – yields some clear data.
I mean, we all know this anyway even though there is such an effort nowadays to soften everything up. Maybe this is feminism run rampant by mistake, who knows. But if you go to a hospital, for example (leaving aside flaws in the medical-financial model which governs it), you expect discipline in work ethic, hierarchy, communication, procedures, cleanliness, paperwork and so forth. Same in the military. Same in a business, large or small, fire department, library, bus, train, restaurant. We all know this and experience it daily. It’s not news.
It shouldn’t be news.
But when it comes to media, entertainment, news, social analysis & commentary, there is this seemingly concerted push (what US conservative ideologues call ‘liberal media’ or ‘liberal bias’) to break down old norms and impose some sort of mushy, feel-good, always-equal I don’t know what it is. But seemingly anything firm, deliberate, definitive, understandable, culturally homogenous, is pretty much always wrong, and what we need is more diversity, inclusiveness, lack of definition or even cohesion. I am over-simplifying, but still, I think most of us know what I mean.
This tendency, which again seems pushed somehow in the face of daily contrary evidence in terms of what we know works and how we work with each other, is harmful.
It needs to stop.
Meanwhile, back to my 5000th hour!
This week I am trying an experiment to push my skills: because there is a big rival market at Centre 200 in downtown Sydney this Saturday, we’ll have less people. So I thought: maybe I should work a little less hard, not only by making fewer loaves, but fewer different doughs. So am going to combine 4 breads into one dough, then later on add various particular ingredients. So the focaccia, walnut, dark sandwich, and miche will all share the same dough (equal parts fresh ground and white Red Fife with about 20% fresh-ground multigrain starter), and then I will still also have fresh-ground Rye, spelt, sprouted multigrain and mainly white Brioche. So not only is that 8 loaves instead of usual 10-11, but also 4 of them share the same dough. Oh, I’m also going to add fresh organic apples to the walnut and dark sandwich.
Will be interesting to see how it all turns out. I find that pushing myself this way and then charging less if such experiments don’t come out well, is better than getting a recipe perfectly fine-tuned (which have done with many of them at this point) and then making them again and again ad infinitum. I do this with most, but every bake there has to be some loaf (or two) which is experimental, which pushes my skills, and which provides a bit of feedback: if I know what I’m doing I’ll get good results, but if I don’t, the bread will give some ‘tough love’ feedback which I also share with my customers.
Maybe it’s not exactly ‘grit’, but also it’s not playing it safe either in a way which, ultimately, stunts growth and learning.
And I believe that no matter how old we are, learning is quite possibly the single most important thing we should be doing every day, whether in the work place or the bedroom.