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Sourdough; the real and the fake explained

To mark the 10th annual, international Sourdough September, the Real Bread Campaign has exposed more than 20 examples of what it calls sourfaux, some being sold at premium prices.

30th Aug 2022

2022 sees the 10th annual, international Sourdough September, when the Real Bread Campaign goes on a mission to help everyone worldwide to discover that: life’s sweeter with sourdough! Launched in 2013, the main aims of #SourdoughSeptember are to encourage people to:

  • Bake genuine sourdough bread (see our recipe here)
  • Buy genuine sourdough bread from small, independent bakeries
  • Boost the Real Bread Campaign, the charity behind Sourdough September

Sourdough September is run as an opportunity for genuine sourdough bakers and baking teachers to showcase what they do. Sourdough bread is made by people of almost every age, nationality, ethnicity, gender identity, (dis)ability, religion and culture in the world. It's also time to shout louder than usual 'say no to sourfaux' to alert people to this problem.

Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young said: “some industrial loaf fabricators, and other crafty bakers, want a slice of the sourdough market but don’t want to invest the extra time, knowledge and skills necessary to craft great, genuine sourdough bread.”

Many supermarket products are named or marketed using the word sourdough, despite being manufactured by a fundamentally different process using baker’s yeast, chemical raising agents, additives or a combination of these.

The Campaign noted that some lines of what it calls 'sourfaux' are being sold for at least twice the price of comparable products in the same brand. While customers might be charged a premium, lower unit production costs enables larger manufacturers to simultaneously undercut small, independent, local bakeries.

The Campaign is encouraging people to take the quick and simple Honest Crust Act e-action on its website. This enables them to ask their local MPs to urge the government to include legal definitions of a range of common bakery marketing terms, and full ingredient labelling of unwrapped loaves, in an imminent public consultation on bread composition, marketing and labelling legislation.

People wanting genuine sourdough are advised to always read the label and to look for The Sourdough Loaf Mark

Sourdough for All

Join the Real Bread Campaign and much more at:

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What is sourdough?

Rather than a look, style, taste, trend or fad, sourdough is a process. Yeasts and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present on the surface of grains end up in flour. These can be nurtured to create a thriving sourdough starter culture that can be used to make bread (savoury or sweet) from as few as three ingredients – flour, water and salt. Genuine sourdough bread making does not involve the use of baker’s yeast, chemical raising agents or additives.

Having a relatively low concentration of yeast cells, dough made using a sourdough starter requires a longer fermentation than that made using baker’s yeast. These fundamental differences mean that the changes upon which taste, texture and other potential benefits of genuine sourdough bread making rely cannot occur to the same extent, if at all.

Why does genuine sourdough cost what it does?

Small, independent Real Bread bakeries help to keep more money circulating in local economies and support more jobs per loaf than supermarkets and other industrial loaf fabricators. The flipside is being at the wrong end of economies of scale when it comes to the minimum they need to charge to stay in business. This is being exacerbated by skyrocketing costs of energy, ingredients and more.

Over the years, a small number of manufacturers have proved that it is possible to produce genuine sourdough bread at scale, including at least one currently using the process to make wrapped, sliced white sandwich loaves.

Love sourdough - why not try this sourdough pizza recipe!  


Last updated 9 months ago

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