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2020. September 2. News

Let our daily bread be healthy!

Ancient grains and sourdough loaves

When we think of health foods, most of us picture hard-to-pronounce ingredients from distant lands. The fact is, though, the secret to healthy food often lies in the simplest of ingredients.

This is true for sourdough bread as well, which requires nothing more than good-quality flour, water and salt. While the technique for making sourdough bread does require more time and expertise, the investment pays off many times over. What is more, sourdough bread – otherwise known as good old-fashioned bread – is enjoying something of renaissance these days, in which artisanal bakeries are playing an important role. One of the pioneers of artisanal baking in Hungary is Józsi Vajda, who is not only the owner of Pékműhely, but has also played a crucial role in organizing this year’s Kenyérlelke Festival, and advocates for the importance of quality grain, flour, and the breads produced from them on numerous forums. Together with the increase in craft bakeries, the number of those experimenting at home has also begun to increase. Gabriella Ormós, the owner of the Jenői Pékség has recently launched Kovászlabor, a professional forum where home bakers can learn everything there is to know about sourdough baking. During lockdown, several thousand people learned from Szabi a pék how to cultivate their own sourdough and use it to bake bread.

Why is sourdough bread better?

More and more people are discovering that, while mass-produced food may be cheap and plentiful, there is ultimately a price to be paid by those who consume it. While breads prepared using additives are often softer, puffier, and less expensive than those made using sourdough and without additives, they ultimately also possess far less nutritional goodness. Aside from being more filling and satisfying, sourdough bread contains a multitude of microorganisms which make it much healthier and more digestible.

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100% einkorn bread (Source: ÖMKi)

How does ÖMKi fit into the bread picture?

In addition to our tests with different wheat varieties, we have now been experimenting with ancient grains for more than five years. The conservation of biodiversity plays an important role in organic farming, and in this spirit, we hope to bring various landraces and heritage grains which have largely been displaced from modern agriculture back into popular consciousness.

Einkorn and emmer have many positive qualities, being, for instance, more resistant to disease and extreme weather conditions, which make them well-suited to organic agriculture. They are advantageous to the consumer, meanwhile, because compared to standard wheat varieties they have a different internal composition, and often contain different protein structures.

To spread the word about these valuable heritage grains, we are collaborating with a number of bakers, and participated for the second time in the Kenyérlelke Festival. Compared to last year, more of those visiting our stand expressed an interest in getting to know these grains, and in finding out where they could obtain bread baked from them. The sourdough loaves which were prepared for us this year using einkorn and emmer by the craft bakery Szívügyem Kispékség were a great success at the tasting sessions. They baked each batch using only the given grain variety, rather than a blend, which really allowed the delicate yet distinctive taste of each variety to shine through. This was no easy task, however, since doughs made from einkorn and emmer are both stickier and less cohesive than normal bread dough, meaning that they can only be baked in a mold.

ömki_kenyérlelke_alakor_tönke
100% emmer bread (Source: ÖMKi)

Though more and more people are becoming familiar with species such as einkorn and emmer, their true significance for organic farming and diversity are still not widely appreciated. That is why we were especially pleased when, on the second day of the festival, Dr. Dóra Drexler, the director of ÖMKi, together with József Vajda and Sándor Rácz, the owner of Eleven Porta, were able to give a talk on these issues.

Burszán Sándor_Kenyérlelke (2)
Sándor Rácz, Eleven Porta - József Hegyesi, Pékműhely - Dr. Dóra Drexler, ÖMKi (Source: Burszán Sándor)

As well as giving us an opportunity to introduce our work, the Kenyérlelke Festival also had plenty of other interesting events. Both home bakers and professionals were able to test their mettle in a range of different categories. Pipacs Pékség, an organic bakery won first prize among professionals, and József Cseperkáló, our long-standing partner and the owner of Panelpék, won in the whole wheat bread category. Our congratulations to all the winners!

A great atmosphere, good music, delicious food and drinks, and fun, friendly people who are passionate about good-quality bread – we can hardly think of a better way to spend two days! Thank you for the opportunity, and for the interest expressed in our work!

Follow us on our website and keep up to date with the latest news on ancient grains and organic agriculture in Hungary!

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