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Interesting Information/Books: Commercial Bread Yeast: A Monoculture

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Interesting Information/Books:  February 23, 2015

Commercial Bread Yeast:  A Monoculture

Michael Pollan, in COOKED…

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…explains that “commercial yeast is a purified monoculture of S. cerevisiae, raised on a diet of molasses, then washed, dried, and powdered.  Like any monoculture, it does one thing predictably and well:  Feed it enough sugars and it will promptly cough up large quantities of carbon dioxide” (218-219).

Commercial yeast is an INDUSTRIAL product and bears no resemblance to traditional sourdough cultures.

So, what’s wrong with that?

Nutritionally, commercial yeast is very limiting.  Combine it with white flour, which is mostly just dead starches, and you’re eating something that fills you up, but provides very little in the way of nutrition.

Whole grains are much more biologically active and complex–think living cells–and much harder to control in an industrial setting (220-221).

A sourdough culture is a whole ecosystem, containing “at least twenty types of yeast and fifty different bacteria” (221).

Basically, baking with whole grains and a sourdough culture is all about “managing fermentation”–which can be tricky depending on the weather, the temperature, the strength and point of development of the sourdough culture, and when and how one feeds the sourdough culture.  It’s a process that can only be done by a dedicated, skilled baker.  The communities that are created in the traditional bread processes cannot be reduced to the “efficiency” that occurs in a factory.

Traditional whole grain sourdough bread can supply a lot of nutrition.  It’s too bad that there is so little of it available to most of us today.  It’s too bad that we’ve lost the taste of it in favor of the “white felt” we have instead.

Seek it out.  Bake it yourself.  Find substitutes for the factory bread as it’s not doing you any good at all.

Written by louisaenright

February 23, 2015 at 2:06 pm

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