I am in the midst of another transformation. From time to time as I slog along on my life’s journey I find that something I thought was ‘always’ bad, it not bad always. Some things in life, no–everything–is relative. All Bread Is Not Bad.
There, I said it. I am returning bread to my diet, conditionally. The condition is that I must make the bread myself (because you cannot buy bread this good), it must be leavened with naturally occurring yeast from around my kitchen area, and it must be from freshly ground hard red or white wheat.
I will explain all of those conditions, and why it is that if done this way bread is no longer considered by me to be processed food. My prohibition against consuming processed foods is still in full force. I am still in the “processed food is ALWAYS bad” camp.
We are watching Michael Pollan’s documentary on Netflix, “Cooked.” The episode that has changed my always negative opinion of bread was “Air.” In this episode the documentary takes us to Morocco, where they still produce bread from stone ground entire wheat. They also cover bread artisans in the US, where the bread produced is as different from mass-manufactured bread as margarine is from butter. It is a totally different food, even though sliced white bread is technically “bread.”
Let’s see if I can explain why the Moroccan bread is so different from what you buy in the store here. The biggest difference is that real bread is fermented. Real bread has three ingredients, four if you count “Time” as an ingredient. The ingredients are:Flour, water, and salt. Does that sound familiar, dear reader? What are the ingredients in sauerkraut? Cabbage, water, and salt! What are the ingredients in pickles? Cucumber, water and salt!
In a perfect world everything is simple and similar principles will apply to all similar tasks. So it is with breads. Store pickles are not as good for you as fermented ones, and its because of the fact that store pickles are not fermented, they are pickled instead. Store bread is not fermented, real bread is.
When I add the mother to my kombucha what I am doing is ensuring that only the probiotics that I want to dominate the end product have a chance. I inoculate the batch with remnants of the previous batch. What I end up with a week later is not sweet tea.
When I add some of my last batch of yogurt to warm milk I am making sure that the milk does not spoil, and it becomes a totally different kind of food. So it is with bread, when I add some starter to it, I am ensuring that the glucose in the bread is being eaten by a friendly organism, it is being modified and improved by the fermentation process. The microbes will change glucose into carbon dioxide and something that is not glucose. This bread will not be the cake that commercial bread will be. This bread will not require me to add vitamins and minerals, they will be in it naturally. Yeast does not produce minerals, so why do I say that my bread will contain naturally occurring vitamins and minerals? The yeast will make the vitamins, just like the bacteria make vitamin C in my sauerkraut. The minerals will come from the flour that I will be using.
When you buy flour at the store, lets say all-purpose flour, it is not wheat. You know that, right? Ground wheat cannot be sold in US stores because ground wheat spoils very quickly. Flour is not ground wheat, it is a part of ground wheat. The parts they don’t give you cause spoilage but they also contain all of the wholesomeness of the original. What they do give you is just the sugar. The starch in flour is pure glucose. Its not sweet because our mouths do not detect glucose as a flavor. When you eat whole ground wheat, which you cannot buy at any store, you are getting glucose, plus you are getting oil and protein. It is a balanced food. When you then ferment it, you are getting vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate, protein, and fats. Also a balanced food. If you eat home made bread produced using natural yeast, whole fresh-ground wheat, and the time to ferment you could live on it. If you eat store bought bread alone you would die a quick miserable death.
My bread list of ingredients do not include yeast either. If you are wondering where my yeast will be coming from here is a link to the factory that produces mine.
Natural yeast is different from the fast acting yeast that you get in your local grocery, it isn’t fast acting. Good fermentation takes time and of course your industrial bakery does not have time to waste waiting for nature…time is money. What you lose by rushing the process is vitamins. What you gain by rushing the process is more glucose in the bread. Fast acting yeast is producing more gas on the added sugar it consumes, so that it rises quickly. Commercial bread is not bread. Bread is Wheat, Water, and Salt over Time. Extra ingredients don’t make better bread, they make quicker bread, cheaper bread. More ingredients make bread that makes my wife sick. Is it gluten? We will find out and I will let you know. I suspect that she can’t eat bread because of something that either makes it last for a week on the shelf or that makes it quickly produced. I can’t eat it because there is too much carbohydrate in it.
I am right now making my yeast starter for all of the bread I will ever make from now on. I put four ounces of flour in a glass vessel, then I put in four ounces of non-chlorinated water. I whisked it together. Tonight I will double it. I will continue to add flour and water for five days total and then I will use some of this bubbly biological “bread mother” to inoculate my first batch of home-ground whole wheat bread.
Eating good takes time. I want to eat good.