7 Interesting Sourdough Bread Facts You Need to Know

Sourdough bread benefits

Did you know that sourdough bread has a history dating back as far as Ancient Egypt?

This is just one of the many interesting facts about sourdough most people don’t realise when they’re devouring sourdough beneath some smashed avo for breakfast.

Although sourdough is a delicious cafe staple devoured by hungry Millennials by the truckful, it also has a rich history spanning thousands of years and across every corner of the globe. Even the science behind the humble sourdough loaf is fascinating, as it’s what gives sourdough its unique flavour and texture.

To celebrate the artisanal bread that is sourdough and to blow the minds of bakers everywhere, we have compiled a list of seven interesting sourdough bread facts you need to know. These facts will not only help you become a better sourdough baker, but they might even impress your mates when you slide them into conversations the next time you break bread together.

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1. Sourdough is the oldest form of leavened bread

Although it is difficult to say for certain when exactly the first sourdough was discovered, we do know that the first recorded civilization we know of that made sourdough bread was the Egyptians around 1500 BC

It’s assumed that the first sourdough bread recipe was discovered by accident, or trial and error. The most common theory is that the Egyptian people left some out and some of the wild yeast spores in the air mixed with the dough, which caused it to rise and create sourdough bread as we know it.

Then, through trial and error they found out that some of these sourdough cultures worked and tasted better than others. They could keep this culture alive by saving some raw dough and adding more flour to it. This is how sourdough starter was born.

2. A family has been using the same sourdough starter since 1849

sourdough bread history

During the California Gold Rush in 1848, master bakers from France then took their sourdough techniques to Northern California, and it still remains a part of the culture of San Francisco today. 

These clever bakers discovered that the sourdough culture there was so unique that they became famous among the miners, who flocked to their bakery each morning in search of their one-of-a-kind bread. 

Since 1849, these San Fran bakers have been using the same sourdough culture, which they named "Mother dough". They also use the same recipe: flour, water, a pinch of salt and some of this "Mother Dough". In fact, their "Mother Dough" starter was so important that it was heroically saved by Louise Boudin during the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

3. Sourdough is lower GI than conventional bread

Many supermarket breads can cause blood sugar levels to spike quickly, causing your energy to crash soon after consuming it.

However, due to the fermentation process used to make sourdough bread, many of the sugars and starches in the flour are broken down and eaten up by the natural yeasts, so there is much less sugar left in the baked bread than a conventional loaf. This means sourdough bread’s glycemic index, or GI — the number given to foods that measures how the carbohydrates in them affect blood glucose levels — is much lower. 

So, rather than having your blood sugar spike when you eat a slice of sourdough, it will remain much steadier and prevent an energy crash.

4. The sour taste comes from the lactic acid

Sourdough gets its signature sourness from its ingredients – specifically, the lactic acid. The yeast within the sourdough produces carbon dioxide gas, which leavens the dough and the lactic acid bacteria produces lactic acid, which is what gives sourdough its sour flavour. This also helps the bread last longer without spoiling as most microbes can’t handle the acidic environment created by the lactobacillus.

If you want to make your sourdough less sour, then you can add baking soda to the mixture. Baking soda is a strong alkaline, which means that it neutralizes the acids, as well as the sourness, in the sourdough. 

5. You can leave your sourdough starter while you go on holidays

We’re often asked if you can go on holidays if you’re the owner of a “Little Yeastie”, or a sourdough starter. The answer is yes, as long as you’re not gone for more than a several days.

You can leave your sourdough starter in the refrigerator for three to four days at a time between feedings. We recommend feeding your sourdough starter at least twice a week for the best results. However, if you’re looking to go abroad for a few weeks, then we recommend leaving your starter in the hands of a trusted friend who can regularly feed your starter while you’re laying on a beach somewhere.

Just think of your sourdough starter as a pet from here on out – it requires regular feedings, a safe home (a glass jar) and some TLC.

6. You can make your own sourdough starter using two ingredients

sourdough starter recipe

Although most people prefer the convenience of dried starter flakes, or a mature starter, you can actually make your own sourdough starter from scratch using two ingredients: flour and water.

The whole process should take at least 5 to 7 days, so make sure you set aside plenty of time to nurture your starter from a bag of flour to a live culture. You can follow our own recipe for making your own sourdough starter from scratch today to make your own yeastie youngster that can be passed down for generations.

7. Metal cookware reacts with the ingredients in sourdough

Always use glass or ceramic bowls and containers when making sourdough, rather than metal. Two issues that often arise include the acid and the bacteria in the starter, which interact with the metal or plastic and cause corrosion. Specifically, metals like aluminium, iron or steel can corrode or pit with acidic ingredients. The same holds true for your utensils, so put down your metal spoon and instead use wooden or silicone utensils.

Feeling inspired by all of the interesting sourdough facts I’ve shared with you today? Channel some of that creative energy and tackle your own sourdough loaf! Check out my Sourdough Bread Recipe for step-by-step instructions, or jump right in and get your hands on our Complete Sourdough Starter Kit today.

Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @youkneadsourdough on Instagram, so I can see your sourdough creations for myself.

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