If you’re one of the folks who has asked me if I have any experience with sourdough breads, I have great news: I’ve finally identified what seems to be simple method/recipe for creating a sourdough starter and using it.
Part of my research included finding out why it might be worth the effort to learn how to make sourdough bread. Turns out, sourdough bread and baked goods offer quite a few health benefits.
Creating a sourdough starter involves fermenting grain, a common practice that originated in Egypt around 1,500 B.C. Sourdough bread was the only type of bread available until baker’s started using yeast obtained from beer brewers a few centuries ago.
If you’re a health buff, you may know that fermented foods have been found to be highly beneficial in nearly any diet. Fermented foods included yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut and sourdough.
In addition to the unique flavor fermenting adds to bread, it also helps degrade the phytates found in grain. Phytates occur naturally in grain, but they make grain more difficult to digest and cause the healthy minerals in the grain more difficult to absorb.
Through fermentation of sourdough, researchers know that the phytate content of sourdough bread may be reduced by as much as 50%. That makes sourdough easier to digest and more nutritious than regular yeasted breads. Other studies indicate that sourdough bread may be better for blood sugar control because it appears that the fermentation process may modify the structure of carbohydrate molecules.
If you’ve successfully navigated all the scientific aspects of sourdough bread and are still interested in learning a simple, nutritious and tasty way to make sourdough, here are some beginning tips. I will develop recipes that include use of a bread machine, stand mixer and knead-by-hand methods. As I learn more I’ll keep sharing!
To help answer questions you may have:
- You can use different types of flour to make sourdough, including white, all-purpose flour.
- In initiating and feeding your starter, use filtered water to ensure no chemicals interfere with the fermentation process.
- Do NOT use metal utensils to stir your starter. In decades past, wooden spoons were commonly used. I am currently using a silicone spoon. Silicone works well because the dough doesn’t stick to it.
- If your house is fairly cool, as ours is over winter, turn the light on in your oven to help create a consistent temperature over 70 degrees (Fahrenheit). The light will warm the oven to 90 degrees after a couple of hours. Turn it off and warm the oven again after a few hours (this is only necessary for about 5 days).
- Once it’s properly fermented, store the starter in the refrigerator. To use it in a bread recipe, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to warm to room temperature before using it.
- Also note that you will bake sourdough bread at a high temperature – 400-450 degrees (Fahrenheit). You may want to use either a baking stone or a Dutch Oven for the baking process.
Next week, look for a recipe and pictures of my first sourdough loaf!