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Sourdough: natural fermentation means flavor

Rye IPA cracker dough ready to be rolled out and baked

What is so great about fermentation?

There is a lot of talk out there about what you should or should not be eating. It has left most people scared, confused, and guilt-stricken with every  bite. That's not cool. Why do the rules keep changing?

One reason is that we started processing food in factories and labs instead of letting nature do the work. Fermentation is nature's way of processing food, slowly breaking it down and granting access to the nutrients and proteins that would otherwise be locked up and pass right through us.

The fact that the by-products of this process are delicious is an added bonus. Fermentation creates mouth-watering flavors that we crave like sourdough bread, sour pickles, malt vinegar on fish and chips, mustard, ketchup and new hits like kimchi and kombucha.

I have a theory about this. Perhaps we are drawn to these flavors because our bodies know that this means "this is good to eat." A mouthful of wheat berries is jam-packed with protein, nutrients, and fiber, but chewing it up is not very pleasant, nor will we be able to even digest much of it. You can mill the grain and cook it up into a porridge that will fill you up, but each spoonful is a chore. Now take those same milled grains and mix them into a dough and ferment over night with a culture of wild yeast then bake into bread and you will not be able to stop at one bite.

Here is why that is great. Studies show that sourdough fermentation breaks down phytic acid in grains, a substance that binds nutrients and prevents access. That means we can eat the same whole grains a number of different ways, but fermenting them first gives us the most nutritional benefit.

I think that is pretty great, and that is why all of my Craft Beer Grain Crackers are naturally fermented, naturally.