Bakery behind 'world's first sourdough pasta' gets government funding to research health benefits

A Kootenay bakery has received $75,000 from the federal and provincial governments to research possible benefits of a pasta created using ancient fermentation techniques.

Kaslo Sourdough creates its special pasta using natural fermentation process

Kaslo Sourdough created its special pasta using fermentation techniques. The bakery says the product can encourage lower blood-glucose levels. (Kaslo Sourdough)

A family-owned bakery in the B.C. Interior has received government funding to develop a new fermented pasta that may have health benefits.

Kaslo Sourdough uses ancient sourdough fermentation technology to create its Pasta Fermentata.

Creator Silvio Lettrari — who has been baking sourdough bread and researching sourdough for 25 years — calls it the first pasta of its kind in the world.

"As Einstein said, first comes the question, can I? And I did some experimenting and invested money into pasta equipment and came up with this," Lettrari said in an interview with Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South.

"It has flavour, but it doesn't taste sour."

This week, the Ministry of Agriculture announced Kaslo Sourdough will receive $75,000 from the federal and provincial governments to study the possible health benefits of the new pasta.

Lower blood glucose levels?

Research will determine if the special pasta encourages lower blood-glucose responses, influences insulin levels and benefits micro-organisms in the gut.

Previous research has found health benefits to sourdough bread, which Lettrari says is echoed by his customers.

The company has a number of fermented pasta products already on the market. (Kaslo Sourdough)

"Over the years, so many people have said, 'I can eat your bread, but I can't eat the other bread anymore, it makes me feel cramped up.'"

"Now we're trying to find out academically if there's a difference."

He said if the research finds there is a positive correlation between the product and blood-glucose levels, Pasta Fermentata could be a good option for diabetics.

"As a small family business, it would have been very difficult to undertake this high-calibre research project," said Heidi Lettrari, the company's general manager.

"Now we will have top-notch research to bolster our arguments that fermentation — how our grains and seeds are prepared — really matters when it comes to our foods."

Kaslo Sourdough and the University of Calgary are also each contributing $12,500 to the research project, bringing the total funding to $100,000.

The Kootenay company is one of 11 organizations receiving funding to support innovative new products.

Hear a song composed by Lettrari all about the benefits of sourdough:

With files from CBC's Daybreak South and Chris Walker.

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.