A new bacteria strain that can help make 'super sourdough' bread, has been discovered by American researchers.
Maija Tenkanen, and her team discovered and used of a new strain of bacteria that convert the sugars in bread dough into produce dextrans (sugar molecules linked together into long chains that enhance the texture and taste of the sourdough and help keep the bread fresh). These bacteria are available commercially, but produce large amounts of lactic acid along with dextrans.
Tenkanen said: "The advantage of this new strain of bacteria is that while it produces 10 times more dextran than products on the market now, it doesn't produce large amounts of acid.
"Because of this feature, and because the added amount of natural dextran could actually improve the flavor, this could be used in place of additives for a broad variety of breads."
She pointed out that the new dextrans may act as so-called "prebiotics," non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity of bacteria in the digestive system which are beneficial to health.
Tenkanen explained that in the past bread-making involved a long fermentation process using bacteria and/or yeasts that gave bread a pleasant aroma and taste. But the automated bread-making processes adopted by companies are not compatible with the long fermentation processes, something requiring addition of food additives.
She said: "Now, with consumers preferring healthier, additive-free foods we believe our bacteria may lead to a variety of more healthful breads."
The bacteria could be marketed to home and commercial bakers as a sourdough starter, or enhancer for other types of bread.
The study was presented at the American Chemical Society's 239th National Meeting in San Francisco.