Psst., any of you out there still eating bread? I feel like I'm the last of my friends still consuming gluten, and even I don't eat it all that often. But I do still love a slice of good crusty, fragrant, artisan bread. Or a slice of nutty multi-grain bread. I guess I'll just keep enjoying it until I, too, become gluten intolerant.
Bread is one of our oldest foods -- and yet for many of us, it's still a mystery. Here's ten facts you should know about bread. And just for the sake of clarity, we're talking traditional bread. Gluten-free bread is different in many ways.
- Bread is one of the oldest foods humans make, dating back possibly as far as 30,000 years ago.
- Bread is most often made from wheat flour, but it can also be made from rye, barley, corn, and oats.
- Bread is usually baked, but it can also be steamed or fried.
- Keeping bread in a cold place like the refrigerator keeps it from going moldy, but it also makes bread go stale faster. That's just as well for commerical sandwich bread you can't really taste anyway. But if you buy the fancy stuff, either plan to eat most of it within a day or two, or store in a paper bag at room temperature, not in plastic (or at least in a plastic bag with a little air).
- We all know the outside of bread is called the crust; the soft inside is called the crumb.
- The average American eats 53 pounds of bread a year.
- Supposedly the color of the twist-tie on a packaged loaf of bread shows what day of the week it was baked. But that's so bakers and shopkeepers can keep track of their stock, not for consumers.
- Once upon a time all yeast bread was sourdough bread. Then people figured out how to cultivate yeast synthetically (or otherwise) and we got other varieties of yeast breads. But traditionally-made sourdough makes the most flavorful bread.
- Bacteria can help make bread. Sourdough is a combination of active yeast cultures and lactobacilli. A baker can create a sourdough "starter" or "mother," use some of it to create a loaf (by adding more flour and other ingredients) and meanwhile keep feeding that mother (with more flour or honey) for more loaves of bread. Some sourdough starters are years old.
- Yes, the bread baked in Europe really is amazing. But more to the point, artisan-made bread will taste different depending on the region because everything from the water to the microorganisms in the air can affect the flavor and texture.
What do you love about bread?
Image via surlygirl/Flickr