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Spiritual Foods has offered a few suggestions that you can follow to store your bread. These suggestions will also ensure that your bread stays fresh and lasts longer.

Hot/Humid Weather
· Bread is best stored in paper or cloth (dishtowel) bags during humid weather. Bread can be stored for up to one week in paper/cloth bags.
· Storing bread in a plastic bag during humid weather can cause bread to mold after a few days. If you do use plastic it is best to refrigerate after a couple of days, however refrigeration is not the best, see below.

Cold Weather or Dry Air
· In the winter, either paper/cloth or plastic bags are fine. Plastic will keep the bread longer (even without refrigeration or freezing).
"This bread is a gift from the gods. I haven't had anything like it since my childhood days back home in South Africa. I would rather have a sandwich with this bread anyday than go to a fancy restaurant!"

General Storage
· Refrigeration of bread causes it to go stale and dry out.
· Freezing is preferred over refrigeration.
· Slicing before freezing allows it to be used one slice at a time.

If bread does become stale:
· Warm in the oven for 10-15 minutes (only for that use, don’t reheat twice).
· Toast the bread. Steam in a vegetable steamer briefly for up to 5 minutes

More Information on Sourdough

"Just got my new bread order today.  It tastes better than ever.  They must be putting more love in it."

                                              ~ Ron 

The Karma In Bread-making:

The dough has a better memory than you.  All sins of omission or commission will be revealed later in the bread.

by Sarah Thomas Gulden

Gluten and Yeast

Sourdough (or, more formally, natural leaven or levain) refers to the process of leavening bread by capturing wild yeasts in a dough or batter, as opposed to using a domestic, purpose-cultured yeast such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Sourdough more specifically refers to a symbiotic culture of lactobacilli and yeasts, giving a distinctively tangy or sour taste (hence its name), due mainly to the lactic acid and acetic acid produced by the lactobacilli.

Sourdough bread is made by using a small amount (20-25 percent) of "starter" dough (sometimes known as "the mother sponge"), which contains the yeast culture, and mixing it with new flour and water. Part of this resulting dough is then saved to use as the starter for the next batch. As long as the starter dough is fed flour and water daily, the sourdough mixture can stay in room temperature indefinitely and remain healthy and usable. It is not uncommon for a baker's starter dough to have years of history, from many hundreds of previous batches. As a result, each bakery's sourdough has a distinct taste.  The combination of starter, yeast culture and air temperature, humidity, and elevation also makes each batch of sourdough different.  (Wikipedia: Sourdough)

True sourdough technique does not use baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).  It is rather a combination of wild yeast (often Candida milleri) and an acid-generating bacteria (Lactobacillus sanfrancisco). Baker’s yeast is a hybrid fungus, which is used in commercial baking for its quick rising action, shortening the fermentation time. The longer fermentation time of sourdough baking breaks the protein down into amino acids, making the bread more readily digestible. Baker’s yeast does not allow the bacteria and yeast interaction, so the beneficial lactic acids and acetic acid are missing from the bread product. In order to maximize the benefits of sourdough, non-commercially processed high quality ingredients are essential.

Commercial grain processing today strips out bran, germ, B vitamins, vitamin E, chromium, magnesium, manganese and zinc from flour. In total, about 20 minerals and vitamins are lost to a significant degree. These essential nutrients are the first to be lost in commercial flour processing because they’re volatile, especially when stored for a long time.

It was common to store white flour for months to allow oxygen to condition it. Storage costs, spoilage, and losses due to insects caused commercial processors to use chemical additives.  Chemical oxidizing agents or bleaches were used for two reasons: 1) they produced the same conditioning effects of oxygen in a shorter time; 2) they bleached the flour to a whiter color. Currently the Health Protection Branch in Canada allows the addition of almost 30 different chemicals in commercially produced flours.  Consequently, these flours are "enriched," which is doublespeak for the substitution of natural vitamins and minerals with synthetically produced vitamins.  Enriched flour doesn’t provide substitutes for everything taken out of the original, however. The trace mineral chromium, for example, is commonly forgotten.

(Shasha Navazesh Toronto, ON., Source: alive #217, November 2000)

All of Saul and Jolynn’s breads except their oatmeal bread (which uses both yeasts) are sourdough breads in that they use the much healthier sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast.  Saul and Jolynn Schwartz are the bakers at Sweetwater Bakery, housed at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, who make the bread we provide through Spiritual Food CSA.

 People get wheat allergies because of the general difficulty in digesting yeast and gluten.  Sourdough starter essentially starts to digest the yeast and conditions the gluten before we eat it, so we can get more nutrition from it.  Additionally many people with wheat allergies report having no problems digesting this bread (though this would depend on how strong an allergy one has and one’s individual health).  Katherine Czapp, writing about her father in an article in Wise Traditions called "Our Daily Bread" Spring 2003, tells us her father diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) was able to eat sourdough, slow fermented bread.

 A long slow fermentation or the slow rise process used by Saul and Jolynn also helps make the wheat assimilate better.  Ms. Czapp’s father was even able to tolerate oats, corn and spelt in moderation after regularly eating the sourdough bread. Most commercial breads rise quickly, an hour or so, while a minimum of four hours is needed and Saul and Jolynn actually spend eight hours rising their dough. 

 The idea with these careful process is to soften the bran in whole wheat which is quite strong, and, in fact, unhealthy for you. Soaking wheat bran overnight helps some, but fermenting makes a bigger impact and slow-rising can neutralize phytates. Wheat bran contains phytates, which, if it isn’t soaked or fermented first, binds with minerals and will actually pull minerals out of your body.

Did you know that Candida and Anemia are related to the consumption of yeasted bread?  These chronic calcium deficiencies can be avoided or resolved using natural leavening as stated in "A Grain of Salt," Spring 2000.

 The pH level of naturally leaven bread versus commercially yeasted breads makes the difference.  The pH levels of the naturally leaven dough is about 4.8 in dough kept at 64 degrees Fahrenheit and for total hydrolysis you need pH between 4 and 5.6 maximum.  The pH of commercially yeasted dough is 5.9 to 6.5. 

Brick Oven

All the bread that Saul and Jolynn bake for Spiritual Foods CSA is baked in their own special brick oven, which was designed by a friend and hand-made. They had three successive other ovens before this one in their previous home in Virginia; this one in Pennsylvania is their largest yet.  The oven is just a chamber made of 4 inches of firebricks reinforced with 6 inches of concrete on the outside.  It is a massive structure, both for strength and to have the right amount of mass to be able to hold the heat in.  Since they bake many batches of bread after the fire has gone out, it’s important for the heat to be held by the masonry and that the whole structure is well insulated.  With the incredible heat it gives off, the oven is built outside the building, but there is an inside door and it does heat the room the door opens into.  The oven has a chimney in front and outside of it, which allows some heat out when the fire is burning, but it is closed for the baking process.

The bread-baking process in such an oven is interesting since the bread is baked in the same place in the chamber that the fire is.  Saul and Jolynn first light a fire that burns all day and they cook the following day after a careful job of cleaning out the ashes.  Just before baking, they spray the oven with a hose to create more steam.

The special thing about such an oven is that you can seal it off.  Conventional ovens need to be ventilated so either you loose all the steam or they have to use complicated equipment to inject steam during baking as opposed to the natural process inherent in the brick oven.  Steam is wonderful for baking bread—it lets the crust be soft for longer to ultimately make a crisper crust.

Lastly, a brick oven provides radiant heat from its bricks as opposed to conventional convection oven, which uses hot air.  That cooks the bread faster (their first batch usually takes 15 minutes), which gives the bread a nice quality, allowing it to be softer, lighter, and chewier.

The Mill and the Whole Grain Wheat Flour

All the wheat used in Saul and Jolynn’s bread for the CSA is biodynamic and comes from Kirschenmann’s farm in North Dakota.  While regular and organic grains can all be run through the same machines, the biodynamic process requires scrupulous cleaning after a non-biodynamic grain has run through, a process which can take a day or more.  This is one reason it is hard to find biodynamic grains available commercially. 

The Sweetwater bakery receives the wheat grain from Spiritual Food and mills it one batch at a time for the freshest, flour possible.  The stone mill, belonging to the Camphill Community who allows the Schwartz’s to use it for all their baking there, takes about an hour and half to grind 50 lbs. 

Whole-grain stone ground flour doesn’t need to be enriched. In addition, there are several other advantages to stone ground whole grains.  The endosperm, bran, and germ are in their natural, original proportions, allowing for higher and better nutrient absorption.  Stone grinding is slower, so the germ is not exposed to high temperatures. Heat causes the fat from the germ portion to oxidize and become rancid, destroying many of the vitamins (particularly fat soluble ones such as vitamin E).  Stone ground flour is usually coarser, reducing the loss of nutrients due to oxygen exposure...The nutrients in real sourdough bread are more bio-available and easier to digest, and the bread retains natural dietary fibers.  If you eat bread, eat naturally cultured sourdough.

(Shasha Navazesh Toronto, ON., Source: alive #217, November 2000)

Saul and Jolynn’s bread is made from a highly personal process—they mix the dough by hand and as stated above, they have a unique strand of sourdough starter derived from years of baking. No one cold make bread exactly like this bread.  This is a process they taught themselves and they put a lot of care into.

(Information from Our Daily Bread by Katherine Czapp & Garrick Ginzburg-Voskov)

How does this differ from typical store bought bread?  Read the tale of Little Willy White Bread by Mirabai