Wild yeast is everywhere
There has always been yeast. Wild yeast fermentation dates back even to the earliest civilizations. It wasn’t until the 19th century that French Chemist, Louis Pasteur, discovered how to isolate a single strain for the first time. Since then, commercial yeast has grown in popularity due to its predictability and fast rising action. But innovation sometimes means compromise.
Life loves diversity
All life loves diversity, and it is in this diverse environment that micro-organisms like lactic acid bacteria and yeast thrive. These little colonists are responsible not only for the complexity of flavor in sourdough, but also its digestibility and nutritional density.
During the slow fermentation process, the natural sugars found in flour are converted into energy, releasing carbon dioxide, which causes your dough to rise. This process is called leavening.
These little micro-organisms are everywhere- on your hands, in your kitchen, and in the water and flour of your starter. Because of this, each individual starter is unique.
So basically, baking with sourdough is a back-to-basics way of leavening your loaves and enjoying the full flavor profile and nutritional benefit that wild diverse yeast has to offer!
Wild yeast is living, so it does require regular care in order to remain healthy and active. Thankfully, it’s needs are simple. It needs regular feeding and a warm environment. Just like me.
WHY BAKE WITH SOURDOUGH?
Not only are the fruity, tangy flavors of sourdough bread distinctive, but the texture is too! And while you might be able to get bread labeled sourdough from your local grocery, there is no matching the flavor and texture of the real deal. Not only that, but there are tons of sourdough recipes beyond rustic loaves. There are sourdough pancakes, scones, cookies, cakes, and muffins- just to name a few.
When Covid-19 hit the United States in Spring of 2020, people began stockpiling commercial yeast. There was a real concern about food security and our ability to find ordinary products became difficult. I have always used commercial yeast to make a lot of our baked goods, so it was weird to not be able to find it anywhere locally or online! Thankfully, my sourdough starter got me through the tough times and I quickly developed an appreciation for my new found food freedom.
Sourdough, as we’ve said, is more nutritionally dense and digestible than bread baked with commercial yeast. Homemade bread in general is superior because it is free from preservatives and other chemical exposure due to processing. But sourdough has the added benefit of the fermentation process. I love knowing that I can provide delicious, healthy choices for my family that aren’t even available at the store.