Ancestral technology: sourdough.

3 Mar

Fermentation exists because at one point in time, there were no refrigerators: it is a way to preserve food without the need of cooling devices. Happily, the process of fermentation also makes us hardier creatures because it reinforces the good bacterial population in our guts. Since the advent of preservatives, canning, freezing and other modern technologies, our mainstream society has lost the gist of why we fermented in the first place: even most pickles you can buy commercially are not fermented: they have been sterilized in hot vinegar and placed into jars.

National brand commercial breads have added preservatives in them to maintain their shelf life, and fresh, yeast leavened breads from local bakeries only last a day or two before they go stale and then moldy. Sourdough, however, is a fresh bread that has its own natural preservatives, by virtue of the additional fermentation process that it goes through. I was tickled recently to come across an article in Science Daily entitled Why sourdough bread resists mold.  I’m happy to see that occasionally, modern science remembers that our ancestors had some important technology of their own.

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