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Foods -- Breads and Grains

Why is salt used to make yeast breads?

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Salt has several purposes in yeast breads. It helps develop the desired texture and grain through controlling yeast fermentation. Without salt, the bread will have a more open texture and be less compact. Salt favors the action of amylases (enzymes which break starch in sugar) thus providing a food supply for the yeast. Salt inhibits the action of proteases (enzymes which break down protein). Bread made without salt is sticky and hard to handle. Salt slows the yeast down so it doesn't produce carbon dioxide too quickly. Controlling the rate of fermentation keeps the bread from rising too much and giving an open texture. Salt can be reduced in most yeast breads, however. Decrease the quantity of yeast slightly if the salt is decreased to slow fermentation.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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