Sourdough is essential in rye bread making, and the tradition of rye sourdough fermentation corresponds to the rye-growing areas in the north, central, and eastern European countries, including the Baltic States, where rye bread constitutes a considerable amount of the bread consumption. Rye sourdoughs have been characterized from Finland (17), Sweden (18), Denmark (19,20), Germany (21-23), Austria (24), Poland (25), Czechoslovakia (26), Russia (27), and Portugal (28).
Bread made from mixed wheat and rye is very common in many European countries, and sourdough should be used to enhance the sensory properties of the bread and prolong the microbial shelf life if more than 20% of the flour is from rye (29). One of the most famous rye sourdough breads still produced today is Pumpernickel, named after the Swiss baker Pumper Nickel. The bread originated in 1443, when there was a significant scarcity of wheat in Europe (2).
The tradition of production of rye bread without the addition of baker's yeast has continued even in large-scale bakeries until today, and the leavening capacity of the sourdough is still very important in rye bread production. In the 1960s and 1970s, the time between baking and consumption of bread increased due to changes in society; and in some bakeries, preservative compounds such as vinegar, propionic acid, or sorbic acid were added to the dough for the prevention of molds. However, the natural content of yeasts from the sourdough is also inhibited by those preservatives, resulting in decreased leavening capacity, and it was necessary to add baker's yeast to increase the bread volume. The use of propionic acid as a preservative in bread is prohibited in many countries today. Stringent hygiene in bakeries makes it possible to produce bread with long shelf life without added preservatives, if sourdough is added.
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