Sourdough on the rise with trend for fermented foods

3 Aug 2018

Traditional sourdough cultures are making a comeback, and ingredients companies are investing in them for commercial use, as well as fast-track solutions to make these sometimes fussy ingredients easier for large-scale bakers to manage.

Sourdough on the rise with trend for fermented foods

Western Europe is the world’s biggest market for sourdough, which is benefiting from increased interest in fermented foods, according to a recent report from Future Market Insights. It predicts the Western European sourdough market will grow 7.1% a year to 2026, with a doubling of revenues compared to 2016.

Consumers have become more interested in traditional production methods, authentic foods and flavours in recent years, and the trend toward fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut taps into that interest. Likewise, sourdough comes with a long tradition of use and provides more complex flavour than bread made with commercial baker’s yeast. It has a thicker crust, and a longer shelf life because of a lower pH.

In addition, shoppers increasingly are looking for foods with additional health benefits, and sourdough is thought to be easier to digest than traditional bread, and studies have suggested this could help with micronutrient absorption. It also has a low glycaemic index, making it an appealing choice for people looking for slow-release carbohydrates, such as those with type 2 diabetes.

However, sourdough bread requires more attention than bread made with yeast. The starter culture is sensitive to changes in temperature and must be fed regularly to keep it healthy. As a result, ingredients companies have come up with shortcut solutions for commercial bakers, providing stabilised and concentrated ferments so manufacturers can better control fermentation, flavour and aromatic profiles.

For example, AB Mauri released a line of dried and liquid cereal ferments in 2016 to take away some of the process challenges of dealing with traditional starter cultures, while providing a range of fermentation flavours to suit different bread styles. Lesaffre has said it has renewed its focus on fermentation in light of demand for natural and traditional ingredients – not only for sourdough bread, but also for products like yoghurt and kefir. And Puratos supplies a range of stabilised cultures for sourdough baked goods, which can be used separately or in combination for different effects on crumb structure, flavour and aroma.

According to the UK’s Federation of Bakers, demand for greater bread variety has continued to grow across Europe, and it predicts ongoing innovation in specialty breads, particularly those that tap into consumer interest in indulgence, convenience and natural ingredients.

As long as people are looking for flavour variety in bread, fermentation will likely have a role to play.

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