The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why does sourdough bread keep fresh longer?

Breadhead's picture
Breadhead

Why does sourdough bread keep fresh longer?

I have both heard and seen that sourdough bread keeps fresh longer than direct doughs that have no pre-ferment at all. The mixed flour miche I made from Hamelman's Bread keeps for about a week. What are the factors in a bread maintaining its freshness?

BH

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

What do you mean by fresh? That it's supposed to stale later than a yeasted bread? or that generally it keeps molds away?

Speaking of white bread I agree with the second point (it's due to the acids present in the bread), but I have never verified the former.

Breadhead's picture
Breadhead

I guess both. The bread definitely did not mold as quickly, and I guess the acidic environement of the bread is too harsh for many bacteria/organisms to live. I think the bread also stayed fresh for a longer time. After chopping off the end piece the middle was as soft as day 1. Perhaps this is with all breads?

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

at least not my white breads. I haven't touched baker's yeast for ages, I bake exclusively with my various sourdough starters and in spite of this my breads stale as fast as any other. With rye breads, of course, it's a totally different matter.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

The two of us, including my 4 legged apprentice,  don't eat bread fast enough not to notice a difference in texture, moisture and taste half way through the loaf - especially the white SD loaves.  So we cut them in half after they are just cooled and freeze half immediately.  Large boules and batards are cut in quarters.  They way they are always st their very best.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Sourdough and breads made with a pre-ferment help with moisture retention.

Breadhead's picture
Breadhead

How so?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Fermentation creates all sorts of organic acids and compounds that help to retain moisture. In general the amount of time put into making a loaf of bread is the same amount of time as the bread is at its highest quality.

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

thought of freshness that way but it sure sounds about right Michael.  Now I want to do a 24 hr levain build and then a 48 hour retard in the freezer before baking.   Think I will still freeze half a loaf though :-) 

wally's picture
wally

It's not just for recipes.  He provides the answer to the question you pose (p. 28-29, p. 48):  sourdough, by nature of its acidity, slows the staling of bread.  The acidity slows what is known as "starch retrogradation" (which we call "staling") by retarding a chemical process in baked bread wherein the starch molecules revert to their pre-mixed condition and in the process lose moisture.

Larry

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I second what Larry said that Hamelman said.  In a word, acidity.

Jeff

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

Specifically, the fermentation process produces "lactic acid", and this element is responsible for the natural keeping qualities of sourdough bread. What a relief to use this acidity to our advantage instead of relying on commercial bread's "shelf life extender" and "mould inhibitor".