Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sour dough!

Natural Sourdough!

Ancient Science!

In 1961 the Chorleywood process of making bread changed British ideas of what was a good loaf.  Fifty one years on and 80 % of all bread in the UK is made the Chorleywood way.  

Bread is not a cheap commodity any more with rising costs of wheat and fuel.   So what is the alternative to a Chorleywood process loaf.

A myriad of flat breads have been produced all over the world using different grains.  Soda Breads although considered to be a traditional Irish bread may only really date back to the 1840s.  Apparently bicarbonate of soda was only produced commercially from 1846.  Sour dough bread is a form that seems to be becoming popular again. This is the pre-Chorleywood style of bread using a yeast culture that is fermented and kept going from one batch to the next.

Each sour dough culture is unique to the area in which it is fermented.  The local microbes are adapted to the climatic and environmental conditions.  By introducing airborne  yeasts and bacteria to a flour and water paste a classic colonisation phase is et up.  As the different microbes set up a symbiotic relationship between lactobacilli and yeast.  Move your culture to a different environment and the culture changes owing to different growing conditions.  Truly a local food product!

As we have moved away from random inoculation of bread with yeasts and bacteria we have gone for uniformity of yeast strains.  We are only just noticing the possibilities of  the self-sustaining cultures that restrict growth of other types of bacteria.  Very common bacteria such E. coli that have even found in bean sprouts are rarely (not aware of case) transferred in bread.  Remarkable considering that it is regularly handled by many people in a household, is often exposed to the air for long times and may come into contact  with high risk foods for several hours (sandwiches) before consumption.  A recent discovery may point the way to new antibiotic treatments  Using local yeasts and bacteria in sourdough cultures therefore may be a move that could see bakers becoming attached to ...... pharmacies?   

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