By Johanna Hartzheim, CPO & Co-Founder
With homemade bread returning to popularity in recent years, you have probably seen a photo or two of at-home bread starter cultures. You, too, may have found a new love for sourdough bread and the labor-intensive and gratifying process to make it. You may be aware of how sourdough gets its flavor, but do you know what distinguishes the sourdough process from other types of bread? Continue reading to find out more about the process and potential health benefits of fermented bread.
What is fermented bread? What makes some bread fermented?
Any bread that goes through the fermentation process is referred to as "fermented bread." A bread is considered fermented if yeast is used in the dough. Yeast is a type of fungus that is essential for fermentation and is available in several forms, including fresh, active-dry, and instant yeast. Fermentation occurs when yeast converts the sugars found in flour into carbon dioxide and alcohol, causing the bread dough to rise. In the absence of yeast, bread cannot rise; popular breads that are not fermented include flatbread, soda bread, and cornbread.
What type of bread is naturally fermented? What are examples of fermented bread?
Naturally fermented bread refers to bread that uses naturally-occurring yeasts in the bread-making process, instead of the commercial yeast you can buy in the baking aisle of a grocery store. Fresh yeast, or yeast that occurs naturally in foods, can be captured in a few ways at home including incubating flour with water or adding dried fruits to water. Sourdough bread is an example of naturally fermented bread.
Is sourdough fermented? Is rye bread fermented? Is French bread & baguettes fermented?
Yes, since yeast is used to make all of these bread varieties, sourdough bread, rye bread, French bread and baguettes are all fermented. More specifically, sourdough bread is traditionally made with fresh (wild) yeast, but store-bought yeast is frequently used to make rye bread, French bread, and baguettes. However, wild yeast can also be used for these breads.
Is fermented bread good for you?
Fermented bread is not automatically healthier however, the unique fermentation process that sourdough bread undergoes means sourdough bread is usually more nutritious than other types of bread. The slow fermentation process of sourdough bread makes calcium, phosphorus, and iron more available for the body to absorb and also provides additional health benefits such as lower blood sugar levels, improved digestion, and disease prevention.
Is store-bought sourdough bread fermented?
Store-bought sourdough bread is likely fermented, however, it is important to note that fermentation only refers to the use of yeast in bread making. Because grocery store sourdough bread often does not use a traditional sourdough starter, which calls for a slow fermentation process, it may not provide the same health benefits as sourdough bread from bakeries or Wildgrain.
Is fermented bread better for you? Is fermented bread good for gut health?
Naturally fermented bread is typically healthier than commercially fermented and non-fermented bread. Sourdough bread, for example, undergoes a days-long fermentation process that allows the body to absorb the bread’s nutrients and antioxidants more readily. Bread like sourdough that is naturally fermented also promotes gut health. Studies have shown that sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic and is lower in gluten, making this bread easier to digest than other types of bread.
What's the best fermented bread for your health?
The best fermented bread is bread that uses wild or naturally occurring yeast as opposed to store-bought yeast. Bread made with wild yeast and a longer fermentation process boasts an enhanced nutritional profile compared to bread made with commercial yeast. Studies have also shown that bread made with wild yeast helps stabilize blood sugars and is easier to digest. To further increase the health benefits of naturally fermented bread, be sure to choose bread made with 100% whole grains.
Where can I buy the best fermented bread online?
At Wildgrain, we specialize in making high-quality, fresh breads that are delivered directly to your door. Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for breads, rolls, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our popular breads include sourdough, rye bread, and baguettes. We are proud to offer healthy breads, made with non-GMO flour and without added sugar or preservatives. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking and cooking methods.
About the Author
Johanna Hartzheim is the Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Wildgrain.
This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.