8 Things You Should Know Before Buying Sourdough Off-The-Rack

Buying sourdough bread is no cakewalk! If you’re buying a sourdough loaf from a store, there are plenty of components you should look out for if you want a healthy loaf of sourdough that has been baked with the nutritional benefits in mind. Authentic sourdough is leavened using a sourdough starter, a mixture of flour and water that captures wild yeast and bacteria from the environment. 

Some mass-produced varieties may use commercial yeast for leavening instead. While both can result in tasty bread, a naturally fermented sourdough starter adds to the depth of flavour and also has a host of potential health benefits associated with it.

Local bakeries or patisseries who make sourdough in smaller batches tend to use traditional fermentation methods, and may even use locally sourced or organic flours, especially for their weekly customers. Here are some things you should look out for when you’re buying sourdough off

Ingredients and Labeling

Authentic sourdough should contain minimal ingredients, typically flour, water, salt, and a sourdough starter. Be wary of added preservatives, artificial flavours, or unnecessary additives. Look for clear labelling that indicates the use of natural fermentation and a sourdough starter.

Fermentation Time

The length of fermentation significantly influences the flavour and texture of sourdough. Traditional sourdough requires a slow fermentation process, often taking several hours to several days. Artisanal bakeries and quality producers typically embrace longer fermentation times, allowing for the development of complex flavours and improved digestibility.

Crust and Crumb Texture

A well-made sourdough should have a crust that is golden brown and crisp. The crumb, or the interior texture, should be chewy with irregular, well-distributed air pockets. A balance between an open crumb and a slightly denser texture is indicative of a thorough, expert fermentation and baking process.

Packaging and Storage

Check the packaging for a date of production or a "best by" date. Opt for loaves that are well-packaged to maintain freshness and prevent the bread from drying out. Some bakers mention on the pack if the bread is meant to last the week and also add storage instructions.

Whole Grain Options

Some sourdough bread is made with whole-grain flour which promises additional nutritional benefits. Whole-grain sourdough may contain more fibre, vitamins, and minerals compared to bread made with refined flour. Look for labels indicating the use of whole grains or whole wheat if you prefer 

Gluten Content

Sourdough is often considered more digestible than conventional bread due to its natural fermentation process. However, someone suffering from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease should still be careful. Some sourdough bread may contain varying levels of gluten. Although, gluten-free sourdough options or those with lower gluten content are also available in the market