In this brief guide we will address the question, “Why does my sourdough bread smell like alcohol?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like what is the difference between regular bread and sourdough bread and the health benefits of sourdough bread. Moreover, we will also be discussing the signs of spoilage, so you know when your bread has gone bad.
Why does my sourdough bread smell like alcohol?
Whether it is normal bread or sourdough, the smell of alcohol is due to the process of fermentation. There is a slight difference between sourdough bread and normal bread, but the principle on which they are baked is the same – both require a starter culture and both are a result of fermentation.
The smell is usually not significant when you give your sourdough ideal proofing time and temperature range. However, such precision is often not possible when it comes to baking. This is exactly why baking is considered one of the most difficult things to do when it comes to food products.
When the sourdough is left for proofing longer than it should be, there are high chances of your bread being over fermented, consequently giving an alcohol like smell. People also refer to this smell as that of a nail polish remover, beer, or acetone. Nevertheless, they are all derivatives of the same product produced as a result of fermentation.
Normal bread vs Sourdough – the difference?
Both normal and sourdough bread are fermented products. The difference lies in the starter culture of these products.
A starter in normal bread is a mixture of wheat flour, water, and a leavening agent. Whereas in sourdough, the starter culture is just wheat flour and water. After this, sourdough is left to rise and welcome the beneficial bacteria present in the surroundings. Making sourdough is a relatively longer and more delicate process than normal bread, becaue you have to keep mixing flour until the fermentation process is complete. This mixture becomes a starter culture itself.
Simply put, normal bread utilizes synthesized yeast, is quicker, and simpler. Sourdough bread is one of the oldest methods of making bread and it utilizes the natural bacteria and yeast that are present in the surroundings. These microorganisms also require a more acidic environment than normal bread and give a rich nutritional product we know as sourdough bread.
Because the proofing time of sourdough is much longer than that of common bread, the sourdough bread has greater risk of getting over fermented. There is no hard and fast rule to when exactly your dough will be perfectly fermented.
Health benefits of sourdough bread.
Owing to the longer fermentation time and naturally occurring microorganisms, the sourdough bread is much healthier than normal bread. Many people get confused when it comes to a comparison of these two since the difference is not huge. But the fact of the matter is that sourdough is indeed healthier than normal bread. Here’s why
- Easier to digest.
Because of the long and slow fermentation, the breakdown of starch is even giving us more simple sugars than traditional bread. Also, the fermentation process breaks down more gluten that can cause digestive and other bloating problems.
Moreover, the lactic acid in sourdough helps to digest more nutrients than normal bread. Lactic acid is produced by lactobacillus species of bacteria that is not found in normal bread. Lactobacillus is the same bacteria that we use in the production of Yoghurt,
- Nutritionally rich.
Sourdough bread relies on the microorganisms that exist naturally in the environment, therefore more nutrients are produced over a longer time. The dough contains a symbiotic mixture of the microorganisms inhabiting the area, which will be more nutritionally rich than normal bread.
How to tell if your sourdough bread has gone bad?
As long as you are aware of the signs of spoilage, the bread will be safe to consume. Here are some classical indicators that help you identify that the bread is no longer fresh or safe to consume.
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in different colours. It could be black, green, white, or pink. If you see such a growth or color formation on your bread, you should discard it immediately.
In sourdough, if you see a discolouration in the preparation of dough, that is also a sign that this dough can not be used for baking. You can read more about it here.
- Unpleasant odor
This is perhaps the most common technique while handling any food product. Simply discard the loaf when you notice the odour of the bread has changed. It indicates either the presence of a contaminant or the growth of microorganisms.
No, you might not want to discard it when there is any smell that matches that of an alcohol or a similar substance, because this is just a result of fermentation. We are talking about a characteristic pungent or a stale smell. This type of smell indicates that mould growth has started to take place. This is just one step before you start to see visible mold growth on the bread.
- Strange taste or hard texture
Even if your bread passes the first two indicators, and then does not taste right, it is better to just throw it away and not take any risks. Health is wealth!
Similarly, if you leave your bread out in the open for too long, the bread will go stale and turn dry. This is also an indicator that your bread has now gone bad and it is time to throw it away.
In this brief guide we have addressed the question, “Why does my sourdough bread smell like alcohol?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand, like what is the difference between regular bread and sourdough bread and the health benefits of sourdough bread. Moreover, we have also discussed the signs of spoilage, so you know when your bread has gone bad.