Of the many questions I am asked about sourdough, the most common one is: Is sourdough gluten free? The short answer here is: NO. But there is a rather logical explanation to why people tend to think sourdough is gluten-free and it speaks to the very heart of the bread itself.
Sourdough bread is made with what is called a ‘starter,’ aka wild yeast. Quite unlike the yeast you are used to purchasing at the supermarket (called commercial yeast) the starter is formed by a process called fermentation. To create a sourdough starter - flour and water are mixed in a seven-to-ten day process which ferments the dough. This fermentation process leads to lots of health benefits and a rich and flavorful bread.
What happens during the fermentation process is that the phytic acid and gluten in the dough is broken down. This allows for Vitamin K, and other healthy minerals to flourish, making them more accessible for your body to absorb. Because majority of the gluten is broken down, your body will digest the bread a lot easier. Unlike bread made with commercial yeast, whose heavy gluten causes an intolerance for many.
Without all the scientific mumbo jumbo; the starter breaks down the gluten and phytic acid so by the time you eat fermented bread your body is not overworking to break down the gluten. The body can digest and absorb all the good nutrients and dispose of the rest.
The bottom line answer; whilst sourdough is not “gluten free” it is favorable to many who are gluten intolerant.