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How can you tell if sourdough is real? 

The Real Bread Campaign has just catalogued how all the major grocery chains are marketing bread products as ‘sourdough’ even though they are manufactured by a fundamentally different process – one that uses baker’s yeast, chemical raising agents, at least one additive, or a combination of the above.

Such quick-cut ‘sourdough’ products – ‘sour faux’ or ‘pseudough’, as real bread enthusiasts call them – do not deliver the health and organoleptic benefits associated with true sourdough. It is created by a time-honoured method that involves a long fermentation, which imparts its distinctive flavour and consistency and enhances its keeping quality and digestibility.

In 2015, Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator Chris Young coined the word sourfaux for any product that is named or marketed using the word sourdough but that is made using one or more additives and/or an alternative raising agent (such as baker’s yeast or baking powder) in addition to or instead of a live sourdough starter culture. 

The Real Bread Campaign believes that to be named or marketed using the word sourdough, bread must be:

  • Made without any additives – ie the main criterion in our basic defintion of bread.
  • Leavened only using a live sourdough culture, without the addition of any commercial yeast or other leavening agents, e.g. baking powder.
  • Made without using other ingredients/additives as souring agents or as sourdough flavouring, e.g. vinegar, yoghurt, or dried sourdough powder.

Supermarkets are making a mockery of sourdough bread

In the modern world we have become too inured to the abuse and appropriation of craft terms – not only to the erosion of once-venerated craft standards, but also to our pockets. As the Real Bread Campaign points out, some sourfaux lines are being sold for at least twice the price of comparable supermarket bread products.