What is sourdough bread? Nowadays, the typical bun or loaf is leavened with a commercially produced yeast. That yeast has been fed molasses and grown in a big vat. It's then partially or totally dried and shipped off to the baker. The "yeasty" taste, when using active dry yeast, comes from all the yeast that died during the drying process! Sourdough baking is a little different. Simply by mixing flour and water, a culture of naturally occuring yeasts and bacteria will appear seemingly out of nowhere! The yeasts and bacteria live symbiotically, sharing nutrients and keeping other organisms at bay. This sourdough culture can then be propagated just by feeding it some more flour and water. Once you have enough you can use it, instead of the commercial stuff, to raise your bread. Keep in mind though, some bakers will also use commercial yeast in their "sourdough" bread. Is it sour? Sourdough bread doesn't have to be sour. The famous "San Francisco Sourdough" is decidedly so. But by manipulating the temperature, amount of water, and feeding schedule of the sourdough culture, bread can be made to suit any palate. Some prefer to use the term "naturally fermented" to avoid this confusion. Typically though, sourdough bread is more flavourful than other bread. We try to keep things on the less sour side, but still full of flavour. What is sifted wheat flour? Sifted wheat flour... well, like the term 'whole wheat flour', it could mean almost anything! Basically, after milling the grain, some of it is sifted out. The size of the screen makes all the difference. One of the mills we use makes a 'whole wheat' flour that is whole grain, meaning nothing but the bits of chaff that come through with the grain are removed. You get the whole grain. Then they make a 'sifted wheat' flour where 10-15% of the coarsest particles (typically the outer layers or bran) have been removed. The other mill we use, sifts out around 15% and calls this 'whole wheat.' Then they produce a 'sifted wheat' flour that has had around 26% of the grain removed. We use a small amount of this 'sifted wheat.' For comparison, commercial white flour has had about 28% of the grain removed whereas commercial 'whole wheat' flour is white flour with bran added back to it. The germ has been removed and along with it, any flavourful oils that could go rancid as it sits on the shelf. Why is this important? Well, the majority of vitamins, minerals, and flavour are found in the germ and outer layers of the grain! The rest is starch and protein. It also doesn't make a lot of sense to toss out 25%. I mean, imagine this as a farmer, building soil nutrition, mineral content etc. with the aim of a top quality crop of wheat, knowing that for every 3 acres, 1 acre will become a waste product. It doesn't make a lot of sense enviromentally. So why use sifted wheat at all? Well, removing a small portion of the bran (about 8%) is enough to allow the loaf to attain the greater volume which some folks like in their bread. Removing less of the grain means more minerals and vitamins (and flavour!) are retained for you to eat. We think that might be a good idea! What does local mean? The flour we use changes much more often than this page is updated. The majority of the wheat we are using is coming from southwest Ontario (Carp, Ontario as of this update (2019)). That being said, at times the demand for local flour (great work bread lovers!) or the year's growing conditions has left the stocks of Ontario wheat empty. When this happens, our suppliers have sourced grain from small farms in Qu├ębec. Additionally, one of the mills that supplies us, is now blending local grains with wheat imported from western Canada. I've heard sourdough bread is better for you, is this true? There are several health-related reasons to eat sourdough bread, such as easier digestibility and a lower glycaemic index. The bacteria in the sourdough culture play a very important role in sourdough fermentation, producing acids (such as lactic and acetic) which slow down digestion, and possibly breaking down the gluten that some find difficult to digest. For this reason, speeding up the process by including commercial yeasts won't do you any good. And while the glycaemic index isn't a perfect measure of the potential blood-sugar response, sourdough bread is digested more slowly. This means it won't give you the same sugar rush, you won't feel hungry as soon, and maybe those excess sugars from quick digestion won't get turned into fat. There's also some evidence that nutrients become more available for absorption when using sourdough! Some references would be helpful here, to back up these wonderful, fantastic claims. Anecdotally though, we have had numerous customers say they can eat our bread, but find store-bought stuff hard to digest. If you have any questions, contact us: bennet {at] asterlanebread dot com