Sourdough breads and gluten

Foodgardenguy Posts: 106 ✭✭✭

There is something that I'm not understanding when I come across information on the internet regarding the effects of sourdough fermentation on gluten, and the health benefits for those who are gluten intolerant.

I have made sourdough breads before, not because of gluten sensitivity, but because there is a special flavor that comes from it. What I read from various sources is that fermenting the wheat in the form of sourdough will "reduce" the gluten content.

My question is: "Is this really true? Does fermenting sourdough reduce the gluten content?"

You see, I understand gluten to be that glue like texture during kneading, stretching and folding the dough, and is needed for the bread to rise. Without it, the bread tends to flatten out. So folding the dough over and over again forms the gluten structure (walls) of the dough to reduce the air from escaping during the rising process.

So what I notice is that the gluten like texture seems to be increasing during the 2 to 3 stages of rising and kneading, not decreasing.

More than likely I'm not seeing the whole picture. What do you think of all this?


  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    The folding and kneading activates the gluten already present- it does not increase it. I guess you could say it "turns it on"? Long risings also activate the gluten, by slowly stretching the dough. That is why "no knead" bread recipes tend to use very long rises. However, if you kneaded excessively or did an extremely long rise, the gluten would "overstretch" and make the dough to slack. I don't know if that breaking down affects digestion or not.

    I have read that the souring process, where wild yeast and bacteria consume the natural sugars in the dough and produce acids, helps to break down the gluten into a more easily digested form. You cannot ( to my knowledge) sour something long enough to eliminate the gluten, but you can break it down.


  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    I have Celiac and I cannot tolerate sourdough or any other bread made with regular flour...

  • merlin44
    merlin44 Posts: 426 ✭✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba's explanation is how I understand the process. I am gluten-intolerant but can indulge in sourdough bread occasionally.

  • Foodgardenguy
    Foodgardenguy Posts: 106 ✭✭✭

    Hi @blevinandwomba Thank you for your response.

    So then, it just seems to be my perception of it that I'm feeling.

    So you use the word "breaking down" instead of "reduce". This is really my question - Does fermenting sourdough actually break down the gluten? Breaking down gluten implies that the protein structures (the bonding) that are holding the glue-like texture together is breaking apart. However after the long rising, it sure feels like those glue-like structures are still there, even more than before rising.

    Moving to another related topic now...

    I'm curious, for your main sourdough rise, could you please tell me what your temperature and length of time is?

  • Foodgardenguy
    Foodgardenguy Posts: 106 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019

    Hi @blevinandwomba Never mind the above question. I got your answer under the "pizza dough" thread. Thanks again!

    (Link: for those who would like to know where the "pizza dough" thread is.)