Since gluten-free bread is a staple for a growing crowd of dieters, including the Celiac community, it is helpful to understand the difference between traditional glutinous bread varieties, and gluten-free alternatives. In fact, it’s estimated that now over 20 million Americans alone have gluten sensitivities— so this topic is more important than ever. So let’s jump into this discussion, and get to the bottom of what’s in gluten-free bread.
What Is Gluten Free Bread Made Out Of?
There are various types of gluten-free bread, each with different types of ingredients and techniques. But first, let’s go over the typical components of traditional, glutinous bread.
Traditional bread varieties often include the following key elements— flour, yeast, water, salt, and other seasonings. When combined, these ingredients create a dough, bound together by gluten (found in wheat flour). Gluten’s taste and texture properties are activated through the use of water and motion (for instance, kneading dough), in turn resulting in the spongy, airy qualities often associated with traditional bread.
So what’s in gluten-free bread then? Well, instead of being crafted with glutinous wheat flours, flours from alternative gluten-free ingredients are used— think rice, arrowroot, oat, almond, etc. As we mentioned, gluten in traditional bread serves as the “glue” of the recipe; since these alternative flours are naturally gluten-free, a substitute binding ingredient must also be used in place of gluten. Otherwise, gluten-free flour, yeast, water, and seasonings would not suffice on their own to create bread— the final product would completely fall apart, unless there is a binding ingredient present.
Because of this, most gluten-free breads contain gums or starches to hold everything together. For example, gums such as xanthan and guar are used to hold gluten-free bread together. Or, on the other hand, starches like potato, tapioca, and cornstarch are used in gluten-free bread for the same purpose. Although gums and starches help shape gluten-free bread, it’s important to note that these elements are often frowned upon for various health reasons. It has been found that gums and starches can aggravate bloating, upset stomach, and other GI issues. So unfortunately, just because something is gluten-free, it does not always mean it is gut-friendly. This is exactly why we created our own line of simple, delicious gluten-free breads, with no weird ingredients, gums, or starches.
At PACHA, we make our certified gluten-free bread with pristine ingredients straight from Earth, and absolutely no binders, fillers, or additives to make it ideal for gut health and digestion. We are able to accomplish this because our main ingredient, buckwheat, is naturally self-binding. Because of this, we do not need to add any harmful gums or starches to our bread. In fact, our base recipe is literally just sprouted buckwheat, reverse osmosis water, and sea salt— some of our flavors include a few additional organic herbs and seasonings, like nutritional yeast and caraway seed, but we prioritize keeping our ingredient lists simple and straightforward. Check out our unique ingredient philosophy here. We are proud to create a new type of gluten-free bread, truly unique and healthier than other breads on the market.
We are passionate about crafting nourishing gluten-free bread, with no questionable ingredients, because we want everyone to feel great after enjoying our bread. Since PACHA is free of the top 8 food allergens, and free of any funky additives, our bread is extremely gut-friendly, unlike other gluten-free breads. On top of this, our star ingredient, sprouted buckwheat, is full of fiber and essential nutrients, making it ideal for digestion— you can read all about buckwheat here.
PACHA's Bread Making Process
At PACHA, we are proud to sprout 100% certified organic buckwheat seeds from Minn-Dak Mills in the Midwest to craft our scrumptious varieties of buckwheat bread. To begin our bread-making process, we soak our buckwheat seeds for over 24 hours, with reverse osmosis water. Next, we blend our sprouted buckwheat with organic herbs and spices, and ferment the sprouted bread for another 18 hours to give it a mild and delicious sourdough taste. On top of this, we don’t use yeast or any kind of starter in our recipes... we simply let the wild yeast that is already on the seeds do all the work. You can learn more about our PACHA sprouted bread technique here!
Throughout our entire bread-making process, we pay extremely close attention to avoid cross contamination, or risk of allergen and gluten exposure in our facility. Safety is our top priority, and we are proud to be 100% certified gluten-free by the GFCO (Gluten-Free Certification Organization). In order to maintain our certification, any at-risk ingredients we source, such as buckwheat, must be tested with results less than 10ppm (.001%) of gluten before they are sent to our facility in Vista, California. In addition, we are required to test our finished products every week to ensure that there are no contamination issues. At our facility, we do not store or share equipment with any nuts, gluten, grains, or other top food allergens. With all of these precautions we take when creating our bread, you can rest assured that our products are safe for anyone with Celiac or gluten intolerances, as well as those with any top allergies or sensitivities.
Common Questions about Gluten-Free Bread
Is gluten-free bread healthier for you? How many carbs are in gluten-free bread?
The short answer is: it’s honestly a different story for every gluten-free bread. As mentioned before, the common inclusion of gums, starches, and other fillers in gluten-free varieties makes it overall more difficult to digest. On top of that, it is typical for gluten-free bread to be higher in fat, sugar, and sodium in comparison to glutinous bread. Because of the tendency of gluten-free bread to have a high glycemic index, blood sugar spikes, energy loss, and other symptoms can be likely to occur. Most of the time, more additives, fat, sugar, etc are added to gluten-free breads in order to compensate for the texture and flavor differences that occur because gluten is not present in the recipe.
But like we said— whether gluten-free bread is healthier or not depends on the brands and varieties you are looking at. Here at PACHA, we do not use any sort of fillers, gums, starches, or unnecessary ingredients, making our gluten-free breads healthier than lots of glutinous breads. In fact, all of our products are sugar free, low-fat, and low-sodium, while also being high in fiber and protein. Additionally, one serving of PACHA has about 11 net grams of carbohydrates, while most gluten-free breads average about 14 grams per slice.
Above all else, we refuse to add any funky ingredients to our PACHA bread because our organic buckwheat speaks for itself— our bread has a delicious, earthy flavor with a mild note of sourdough because we sprout and ferment our regenerative buckwheat. You can learn more about how we source our buckwheat and integrate regenerative farming practices into our bread-making process here.
As you can see, in order to determine whether gluten-free bread is healthier for you or not, a multitude of different factors should be evaluated. Is the ingredient list simple, or does it contain harmful additives, flours, starches, preservatives, etc? These are all attributes that should be considered when deciding which gluten-free bread to purchase. Reminder: just because something is gluten-free does NOT always mean it is gut-healthy, or nutritional.
Does gluten-free bread also mean that it is wheat-free?
Unfortunately, no— just because bread is gluten-free, does not always mean that it is wheat-free as well; which poses a huge risk for those with Celiac, or severe sensitivities to gluten.
The way that certain gluten-free bread companies (not naming names here, but… they’re out there) get around this is by using wheat derivatives in their gluten-free products. For example, flours, wheat starch, semolina, seitan, brewer’s yeast and more are sneaky ways that small gluten traces can be present. Specifically, wheat starch is a questionable ingredient for gluten-free or Celiac dieters, as it involves bread manufacturers extracting gluten from wheat flour and using this to create “gluten-free” bread. However, the FDA has concluded even after the extraction process occurs, small amounts of gluten still remain in wheat starch, which can pose a huge risk for those with sensitivities to gluten.
Speaking for ourselves, PACHA does not contain any wheat derivatives, and we are proud to be entirely grain-free. We take safety and food allergies very seriously around here. Unfortunately, in the food industry, the lines can be blurred for the terms wheat-free and gluten-free— they are definitely not synonymous with one another and this should be something carefully looked at for those with any kind of gluten-sensitivities.
Why is gluten-free bread often smaller in size?
When you think of classic glutinous bread, it’s usually light and airy. This is because of (you guessed it—) gluten! When activated by motion and water during the bread-making process, gluten enhances the elasticity of traditional bread, allowing it to rise and expand when baked.
So, as you can imagine, this same effect can be challenging to replicate when creating bread without gluten. Due to the alternative ingredients that gluten-free bread is usually crafted from, it can also be denser, heavier, and smaller as a result.
Sometimes, it does ring true though that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover! Although PACHA gluten-free bread is slightly smaller and shorter than some traditional breads, our loaves do weigh more than a typical glutinous loaf of bread, so you are getting more bang for your buck overall. While standard bread loaves weigh around 1 lb, or 16 oz, our PACHA loaves weigh approximately 24 oz, and you can get around 15-20 slices per loaf on average!
Why do so many gluten-free breads fall apart and crumble easily?
As we talked about before, gluten is the “glue” of traditional bread— it keeps it intact and gives it a spongy, soft texture. In the absence of gluten, some gluten-free breads definitely miss the mark when it comes to creating bread with enjoyable shape and texture, even when they are chock-full of flours, artificial ingredients, binders, etc.
Luckily, PACHA’s star ingredient, buckwheat, is self-binding and makes for bread that is sturdy, soft on the inside, and delectably crunchy on the outside. You really have to taste it to believe it— we created a new kind of bread that is taking the gluten-free world by storm! Feel free to use code PACHA25 for 25% off your first order with us.
We hope you just learned everything you wanted to know and more about gluten-free bread! At PACHA, we are proud to craft safe, nourishing, and tasty gluten-free bread for everyone and hope you can try us out! Check out our collection of organic buckwheat bread here.