Europeans certainly love their bread but researchers led by Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania believe that we are tending to bake our own, or buy it from local bakeries in the search for flavour and texture that is missing in mass-produced bread.
The consumer challenge is to bake bread that is both tasty and has a long shelf-life. Often the best breads go bad rapidly are only useful for hammering nails the following day. The Lithuanian research team set out to produce bread with a longer shelf life, better flavour, better texture, with more dietary fibre and fewer additives.
The study looked at ways meet the demands of today’s consumers by drawing on an ancient bread-making technique. Lithuanians, along with Estonians and Latvians, eat sourdough bread, made using a natural leavening method that some experts believe dates back to the time of ancient Egypt.
Most nations replaced this leavening technique by industrially processed yeast and food additives. The key ingredients in sourdough are flour and water that ferments when a lactobacillus culture is added. Bakers feed and preserve this living culture in order to use it in successive loaves. By exploring what factors impacted the sourdough bread and when it would go mouldy, the team developed more effective cultures to generate better and longer-lasting bread, which could last up to three weeks.
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