Bread has been a part of the human diet for more than 6000 years, but until the mid-20th Century all bread was made exclusively with varied strains of naturally occurring yeast captured by resourceful bread bakers around the world. However, after WWII, almost every bakery in the world started using commercial bakers’ yeast. This new form of yeast, manufactured in a laboratory, works much faster than natural yeast. Bread production times were reduced from a minimum of 12 hours to closer to 3 hours, and, driven by the cost savings that resulted, bakers rushed to adapt their recipes. Unconsidered in the yeast revolution though were the health effects of the change.
The new “quick rise” bread is harder to digest. Because the dough does not have time to develop, the result is a mostly un-digestible wheat bomb. Nutrients present in the wheat flour remain essentially locked up and unavailable to your body. On the other hand, when bread is made with natural yeast, the long slow rising times allow for doughs to ferment, and enzymes in the yeast work to break down the complex carbohydrates in wheat flour. This process unlocks nutrients and makes them “bio-available” to your body for uptake. During that “slowrise” other good things happen which result in bread that is more delicious, nutritious and easy to digest than bread made with commercial bakers’ yeast. Much of the gluten present in wheat flour is broken down during the longer leavening time, and so people with gluten sensitivity report being able to eat “slowrise” sourdough breads without symptoms. Also, the pro-biotic effect of the lactobacillus culture present in the yeast is preserved in the cooler center of the loaf. The glycemic index for naturally yeasted sourdough bread is much lower than for most commercially produced breads. In sum, the 6000 year-old way of making bread is good for your health. So all of us at Nashoba Brook Bakery encourage you to enjoy the flavor, savor the health benefits, and know you are treating your body right when you eat our “slowrise” breads.