Wednesday food post: Sourdough

I’m finding that cultured food is really the way to go- and if you don’t have any in your diet, you’re really missing out. They are full of beneficial micro-organisms that do everything from neutralizing anti-nutrients to making food more digestible and vitamins more available. Plus, they inoculate your system with probiotic goodness, and that is good for you on a number of levels. I’m finding that eating foods that are alive with various beneficial bacterias/yeasts is really important. So, I’ve incorporated several cultured foods into our diets, which I’ll probably talk about more in depth later. I really can’t imagine going back. So far, we regularly eat yogurt, kombucha, various lacto-fermented vegetables (cucumber pickles, pickled radish, sauerkraut), cultured condiments (so far I’ve made ketchup and mayonnaise and a raisin chutney), and now, sourdough. I did make kefir but I found that I didn’t really have a taste for fizzy, sour milk without loads of fruit and sweetening… but I’ll work on developing it. In the future I plan to make more cultured condiments, more lacto-fermented fruits and veggies (because sometimes I think I could live on kimchi, when I have it), and water kefir.

But the newest thing is sourdough. The first time I made it, it didn’t rise at all. The ball of dough just sat there and dried out. Wah-wah. The second time, it rose some, but made flatter, somewhat dense loaves. The next time, I added yeast. It made big beautiful loaves, but I wasn’t happy with it because I really wanted to just use the starter for the yeast- to make REAL sourdough. Then, I think my starter finally woke up fully and became active, and I found a good recipe for a basic loaf of bread- one that’s good for sandwiches, too (some of these breads just come out too crumbly for anything but something to dip in your soup). Anyway. I’m happy. It is delicious, and a whole loaf of it has already been devoured. 

There are many reasons to eat sourdough bread over others.  First of all, it’s kind of awesome. Basically the "starter" is just flour and water that has caught the wild yeast and bacteria in the air. That’s why there are so many different kinds of sourdough. For instance, San Francisco sourdough has a unique taste because of the specific bacteria that inoculates the culture- I’ve heard it has something to do with the bay. Therefore, each area will produce its own unique starter for bread- I’ve even heard that if you catch the culture in your house then it will even be somewhat unique to you- custom made, almost! Also, you don’t need to rely on commercial yeast to be able to create bread. The starter will just live and grow and make loaf after loaf without any need for added leavening. Some sourdough cultures are really really old, too. Hundreds of years, even. So interesting! 
Another more practical reason to eat it is before modern processing methods, all our grains were soaked or fermented before use. Despite our ancestors’ wisdom, we discarded this practice and have suffered greatly ever since- many of us without even knowing it. First of all, grain is really hard to digest. The process of soaking/fermenting aids in digestion in a few ways: first, it gets rid of the phytic acid (present in all grains). Phytic acid is an organic acid present in the outer layer of grains that binds itself to a number of essential minerals in your intestine and blocks their absorption. Without this extra step (even with whole grains), you are susceptible to mineral deficiencies and bone loss. Yucky! Soaking grains overnight greatly improves their nutritional benefits by merely allowing you to absorb them. Next, there are many enzyme inhibitors in all seeds, and soaking/fermenting helps to neutralize them. Basically, grains just aren’t that good for us without this step. Not to mention, adding commercial yeasts to processed grains just diminishes their nutritional value. No good.

Anyway, sourdough does all these good things for us. It helps to make the bread usable in our systems. It’s healthy bread. Another thing that has been found is that sourdough doesn’t produce the spike in blood sugar that other breads do- so it’s much better for diabetics, and I would argue people in general. It also keeps better without the need for preservatives, and it’s delicious. This recipe I found- I didn’t even have to knead it! (For those who might try this recipe- I didn’t follow it exactly. I just used milk in place of buttermilk/kefir, and I used a little bit of honey as the sweetener- but not as much as they recommend.)

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (15)

  1. stupidfool

    that picture is of sourdough bread?!? i have only ever seen white sourdough. i didn’t know all of that about it. i always thought that wheat was the best bread for you. now i feel guilty for not really liking sourdough! it just tastes too sour for me…

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      You’re probably thinking of the classic white sourdough- which I actually like- but you’re right, it’s sour. My bread is not actually that sour, and I think you can do things to keep your starter a little less developed and strong tasting over time. This is just a sourdough whole wheat bread that I made, and it’s definitely got more vitamins and minerals than a sourdough made with white flour, so you have somewhat good information! Also, we have a sourdough bakery over here and all of their breads taste really unique and there are only a few that have that classic sour taste. Anyway, we can all expand our sourdough horizons!

      Reply
  2. pagangoat

    Sourdough is my favorite..but I’ve yet to try making it myself. My mom used to make it sometimes. Once, she put some leftover rice in the dough, and it turned out sooo yummy. Good enough that I still remember it 20ish years later!
    Real live pickles and sauerkraut are infinitely better than the ones you find on the shelf. I also like miso and Braggs. Never been a fan of kefir…Kombucha was something my parents were into when I was a kid, but I never tried it, because it looked kinda scary;P
    Love the food posts!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Wow, rice in the dough? How interesting! If you get the recipe you’ll have to pass it along.

      I love miso- I’d love to make it someday.

      You have to try kombucha. I totally love it. Once I started drinking it regularly my menstrual cycles started evening out and Jeff stopped having to use his inhaler everyday. We think it’s kombucha/probiotic related because that was the only thing that changed at the time. Kind of awesome. Plus, the taste (while it may take a little getting used to) is really addictive. It’s so refreshing!

      Reply
      1. pagangoat

        I don’t think it was really a recipe…she just tried it, randomly, and it was a success:) I’ll have to ask if she remembers anything about it.
        It would be interesting to make miso…I wonder how difficult it would be.
        I used to make this totally amazing vegan ‘cheese’ ball, which involved marinating thinly sliced tofu for 5-7 days, wrapped individually in cheesecloth, in a mixture of miso and mirin, then blended with a whole lot of fresh herbs, garlic, etc…it was sooo yummy…I really need to make it again!
        I’ll have to try kombucha sometime, just to see if I can handle it:) That’s great that it helped you guys so much! I remember my parents raving about it when they were drinking it. I’m not sure why they stopped, actually…

        Reply
  3. purerandomness

    Ummm…. YUM!! The recipe you linked to looks SUPER easy. Can you give me a breakdown of how long it takes you to make and bake your bread for a week? I’d like to know how long I should be thinking of budgeting if we start making our own bread (ie should I make a day of it on Sat/Sun or would I have time at the end of the day after work?)
    Also, how did you start your starter? Just let some warm water and flour sit out for a couple days until it caught the wild yeast in the air?

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I made 4 loaves in 24 hours. I think we eat about 2 loaves a week (Jeff has toast and an egg every morning for breakfast, and then sandwiches), so the idea was that I would make it every two weeks and freeze two loaves to take out as needed. That way I can actually put it on my calender to proof the starter the night before I start the bread (so Friday night or something), and then have it baked and ready by Sunday night. It seems like a long time, but I barely do anything- it’s just sitting on the counter. The only time this bread took was feeding the starter (although I’ve heard you can skip this step)- the next day mixing the starter with other ingredients and letting it sit overnight- then in the morning splitting it into loaf pans for the second rise (and it was baked and ready the same time the next day). I barely had to set any time aside for it. And I think you can leave it for an extra hour or two with no consequence, too. Sourdough rises so slowly. πŸ™‚

      So yeah, I think this will likely be our basic bread, and I’ll experiment with other kinds. This week I’ll be making sourdough pita and pizza crust!

      Reply
  4. ladyfaith3

    Thank you for posting your recipe! I am going to try it as soon as I get my kitchen tidied up this morning. These posts are very interesting and I am hearing more and more about the cook book you recommended “nurturing traditions”
    there is a way to create butter milk if you don’t have any on hand adding some apple cider vinegar to milk. I don’t remember the amounts right now though.
    I have a friend who drinks apple cider vinegar in warm water with honey. Have you ever done or heard of doing this?

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Awesome- you already have a starter? Let me know how it turns out!

      Once you remember those amounts let me know- I never have buttermilk on hand, so that’ll help!

      I have heard of a few different things involving ACV- one in particular that is a little acv with coconut oil for energy in the morning. I’ve tried that before. I like to use acv to make salad dressings. What is her drink supposed to do?

      Reply
      1. ladyfaith3

        The ACV is supposed to cleanse and I just read it may help with blood pressure/blood sugar and imune system problems. I think my friend used it as an overall health benefit The honey would likely make it more tollerable as a drink πŸ™‚ and honey as you already know is good for ya too πŸ™‚

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          Cool- maybe I can try that on days I feel like I need a boost. πŸ™‚

          How’s your bp these days?

          Reply
          1. ladyfaith3

            honestly I am not checking it routinely. I am just trying to eat right and do some areobics. I have a friend who sells herbs and she will be ordering red rasberry leaf caps for me that can also be used for teas

  5. Anonymous

    My whole family used to drink acv and honey in warm water, it’s supposed to do wonders. And I got used to the taste pretty quickly:)

    Reply
    1. pagangoat

      oops, that was me, I wasn’t logged in!

      Reply
  6. kazzibee

    mmm that bread looks good!

    Reply

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