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How long fermentation is changing the baking industry


18 Jan 2021

As consumers rediscover the nutritional benefits of bread, there’s increasing demand for transparency, simplicity and authenticity. Consequently, bread labels are more and more often clean(er) label. Consumers are also looking for more grains and seeds to improve the nutritional value. But they want to go beyond that. ‘Bread with sourdough’ has become a favourite bread during the Covid crisis, as it has become part of a healthier diet – 3rd after ‘bread rich in fibre’ and ‘breads with more grains’ and preferred over ‘high in protein, low in salt’ and ‘gluten free’ bread. It is encouraging more and more bakers to re-think the very essence of their bread, namely, the way it’s fermented.

Premiumisation of bread

Typically, longer sourdough fermentation – of about 20 hours – results in more premium bread characteristics. A well-executed long fermentation ensures breads have a rustic look on the crust, a more open and ‘waxy’ crumb that has a cohesive, moist and elastic-like texture, and a rich flavour.

Such rustic-style breads draw inspiration from the past. For thousands of years, bakers relied on the natural fermentation of sourdough to slowly leaven their breads. The popularity of sourdough has been growing for many years now, but with many major bakeries launching their own long-fermented breads with sourdough, sourdough is here to stay and promises to play a major role in bread making of the future.

Adaptation of new technologies

Adopting longer fermentation is an art to master, and a science to perfect. Remember, the reason sourdough nearly disappeared from the market was because of its complexity and how difficult it was to control compared to the convenience of baker’s yeast. During long fermentation, the dough is naturally filled with gas to create a consistent, open structure that’s full of flavour. Temperature and time control is vital and once the dough is fully fermented, it is important that it is handled very carefully. To deliver handmade style breads, bakers must therefore adapt their baking technologies when handling this stickier, more gaseous, long-fermented dough.

While you are masters in the making of your bread, you can rely on us to master the fermentation of your sourdoughs. By understanding every facet of natural fermentation, we guarantee you the consistency you need, and the diversity in flavours consumers expect. It’s an expertise we even apply to wholegrains as well, creating exclusive fermented Sprouted Grains.

Focus on the digestibility of bread

New research done by Professor Marco Gobbetti has shown that the choice between commercial baker’s yeast and sourdough not only impacts breads’ volume, taste and texture, but can also have a significant impact on its digestibility

Until a few years ago, these benefits were only proved by empirical and in vitro studies. Recently, however, in vivo studies have been able to link the use of active living sourdough to benefits such as: 2,3,4,5,6

  • Lower after meal glycaemic index (compared to regular white bread)
  • Improved protein digestibility which increases the amount of amino acids that can be absorbed by the digestive system and transferred into the blood
  • Absence of unpleasant post-meal “feeling full” symptoms
  • Milder intolerance responses by coeliac and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) patients.

Research into the role and diversity of microbes living in the human gut is radically changing the way many of us think about bacteria. We know that far from being agents of disease, many species of microbes play a pivotal role in our physical and mental health. Further research now shows that some sourdough bread fermentation directly influences the type and amount of bread prebiotic compounds (such as fibers). These compounds help the gut microbiome to keep a healthy balance, to positively affect immune response and inhibit pathogenic bacteria growth. 7, 8

As a consequence, Puratos is working on short- and long-term projects that will bring to market high quality gut-friendly ingredients. Here too, sourdough will play a prominent role. Puratos is working on a sourdough technology releasing dietary fibers for a healthy gut approach. 

Solutions for long fermentation at Puratos:

In conclusion, it is possible to control every facet of the process when preparing long-fermented sourdough breads.  

  • Sapore: In the slowest processes, carefully selected yeasts and lactic acid bacteria ferment diverse flours like rye, wheat, spelt and oats into a wide variety of Sapore sourdoughs. This is as good as it gets if you want traditional sourdough. Our sourdoughs are low in acidity, which means you can incorporate more fermented flour in your bread recipes.
  • O-tentic: Based on natural fermentation, O-tentic is the start of exceptional breads full of taste, flavour and texture. To regulate the fluctuations in fermentation power in living sourdough, O-tentic delivers consistent fermentation power and stability in your recipe.
  • Clean(er) label improvers and mixes: Inspired by nature and based on enzymes, which are proteins produced by fermentation, Clean(er) label improvers and mixes can help you to create shorter and clearer ingredient lists for baked goods.  At Puratos, we master the interaction between all ingredients of the bread and the process of producing the bread that consumers are looking for thanks to our 100 years of experience in the bread business.

1 Puratos proprietary — Post-Covid Consumer Research, Fieldwork April- Sept 2020. Un-weighted average. 

2 Batifoulier, F., et al. European Journal of Agronomy 25.2 (2006): 163-169..

3 Gobbetti M et al., International Journal of Food Microbiology. 2019;302:103-13.

4 Gobbetti, M. et al. Food microbiology, 2014, 37: 30-40.

5 Gobbetti, M., et al. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2005, 16.1-3: 57-69

6 Poutanen K, et al. Food microbiology. 2009;26(7):693-9

7 Cloetens, L. 2019.

8 Korakli, M. et al. Journal of Applied Microbiology 92.5 (2002): 958-965.