Starting your Sourdough Starter – Where to Start!

Do you like sourdough?  Have you heard of the amazing health benefits of eating sourdough?

Did you know that you can make your own FREE yeast at home for your OWN sourdough starter?  and with just TWO ingredients – flour and water … and TIME !.

 Starting a Sourdough Starter in pictures

Why sourdough?

  • Sourdough is a fermented food.   Yes, that’s why it sits on my bench (and not in my fridge!)
  • Fermented foods are good for you.
  • Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria.  We need bacteria in our diets in a world that is now too sterile, where everything is pasteurised, and antibiotics are overused.  (Don’t get the wrong idea here – I work in a hospital – I know there is a need to wash our hands, pasteurise some foods, and the use of antibiotics can be life-saving – however, we are going OVERBOARD with all of the above).
  • In traditional societies, food was fermented to preserve it (as they did not have fridges, freezers, preserving jars! and chemical preservatives like we do now).   Think about wine, soy sauce, fermented fish sauce, kefir, yoghurt, crème fraiche (sour cream)…..  This article here is a great read about traditional foods and fermentation.
  • Eating fermented foods/drinks is a great (or the best) way to introduce PROBIOTICS into our diets (see my post on Kefir for more information on probiotics)
  • ‘Fermenting’ the flour (any flour) decreases the lectins, gluten, and phytates in the grain/flour making it easier for us to digest.   In a sense, the sourdough preparation ‘pre-digests’ the starches for us 🙂  So even if your are gluten-sensitive or have celiac disease, you may be able to eat sourdough because the gluten has been broken down (AND the taste, texture, and quality of the bread is so much better than bread made with gluten free flours).  Sources: here and here and here.  And I know I’m getting off track a bit, but this article from Celiac.com states that,
      "... sourdough isn't just good for making better bread. Recent studies show 
      that sourdough fermentation can also speed gut healing in people with celiac disease 
      at the start of a gluten-free diet."
  • Improved digestion means that more vitamins and minerals (zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus) are absorbed (ie because fermentation breaks down the mineral-binding phytates).  More information here.
  • Eating sourdough bread does not raise your blood sugar level as much or as rapidly as white bread ie it lowers your insulin response/improves glucose tolerance (source: here)

Do you agree it is a good bread to eat?    One of the blogs I read, Kitchen Stewardship, has collated a LOT of information and research that has been done on sourdough.  Katie, the writer, is convinced that sourdough is THE most nutritious way to prepare grains.  See all of her research here.

Sourdough starter is the traditional way of making bread. It’s how everyone used to make bread before they had commercial baker’s yeast.

Most bread these days is made with baker’s yeast.  I make bread/scrolls/buns with white Baker’s flour and commercial yeast nearly every second day to feed family and friends.  However, I’m starting to perfect the sourdough loaf, and my children at the whole loaf yesterday :), so I am going to try more sourdough recipes over the next few months because of the above many advantages to eating naturally fermented bread.

Now, to creating your own starter…..

Rye sourdough starter

  This is mine.  I have had many starters over the years.   I started my rye starter in January 2013.

Recipe for ‘Starting your own Sourdough Starter’

Feeding my sourdough starter

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24-2013-02-02_2319CacaoBeansSourDo

 

Grab a clean jar.

Put 1/4 cup flour (any flour) into the jar, and add about 3 Tbsp water to it.  Mix with a wooden spoon.

Cover with a loose fitting lid, or some cheesecloth.  Leave on your kitchen bench.

(12 hours later)

Add another 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup filtered water to your jar.  Mix.

(12 hours later)

Add another 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup filtered water to your jar.  Mix.

(12 hours later)

Repeat.

Do this for about a week, and your very own ‘sourdough starter’ should be collecting the ‘wild yeasts’ from the air, and making it’s own natural yeast, and bubbling like the picture below…..

Thriving sourdough starter!

You then use this starter to make sourdough recipes… pancakes, breads, sourdough crackers, pizza bases etc.

Notes about the tools and ingredients you use…..

1.   You can use any kind of flour, as long as it is a grain-based flour.  I use rye flour.  You can use rice flour, spelt flour, wholemeal flour, barley flour, bread flour.. you get the idea.

2.  Feed your sourdough starter with filtered water if possible.

3.  You can purchase established sourdough starters if needed (they are sold fresh or dried and powdered) – this will give your sourdough starter a boost and ensure you have bubbles!  I’d recommend first finding a friend who has a thriving sourdough starter and take 1/2 a cup of the starter, and begin feeding it yourself.

4. Your sourdough starter will grow – because you are ‘feeding’ it flour and water every day!

When you get a jar full of bubbly starter, USE some of it for a recipe (Google it to find a recipe that suits you), or put some of it in another jar.

5.  If you plan to only use your sourdough starter once a week, store it in your fridge.  Before you want to use it for baking, take it out of the fridge and feed it flour and water 12 hours before you use it.

6.  If you see a  brown liquid floating on top of your starter, simply pour it off.  It’s called ‘hooch’ and it is harmless, but it just means that you’ve probably fed your starter too much water in relation to flour, or you’ve left it a few days inbetween feeds (this happens to me all the time!)

 

Thriving sourdough starter!

Thriving sourdough starter  +    oil / water / more flour / sea salt

=>     leave to ‘proof’ overnight          => bake in the morning

 

Sourdough bread - you can make it in your Thermomix!

 

=     beautiful,soft, fluffy sourdough loaf of bread.

 

Next time I write, I’ll post my latest adapted sourdough bread recipe that I’ve been making.signed - hayley @ hills homestead

 

ADDIT –  Something I’ve been reading about….

What about STARTing a community garden… or a FOOD FOREST !  A guy in New Zealand has written a manual about how to start one and is getting funding to use public land for a community ‘free for all’ FOOD FOREST!!  Here is the link to the manual for ‘How to create a community Food Forest on public land’. 

What is a Food Forest?                           See here for a handout – Principles of food forests

 “Food forests have a very long tradition in many areas of the word. For example in the oases of the Middle East, Africa, Nepal, India, Vietnam. ….. It is definitely not a new type of food production.   A food forest is a young forest made completely from plants that a chosen (by) people.  Every forest, except the one in the hot humid tropics, are composed out of 7 layers of plants.
The keys to a well-functioning food forest are:
– a thick layer of ground cover plants that are:
   – not grass. Grass is useless in a food forest, it impede all other layers.
   – dense enough to suppress germination and growth of weed seeds.
   – as much additional uses as possible. Something like fixing nitrogen, edible, bee attracting, etc.
   – can take light pedestrian traffic.
– enough nitrogen fixing perennials/bushes/trees to feed your other plants.
– enough nutrient pumping plants like Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) that pumps up nutrients from  deep soil layers and makes them available to other plants.
– a high diversity of plants to get a balanced relationship of pests and predators.
– enough space between the trees for a productive bush, herb and ground cover layer.
– enough maintenance in the first 20 years. (Rapidly declining maintenance every year)
 If you carefully comply with all key elements you ending up with a carefree food forest that produce very high amounts of food and other useful products in 7 layers instead of just one.”  Source:  here.
Another source Edible Forest Gardens“,  states that “We can consciously apply the principles of ecology to the design of home scale gardens that mimic forest ecosystem structure and function, but grow food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizer, “farmaceuticals,” and fun.”
How cool are ‘edible forest gardens’ ?!!!
signed - hayley @ hills homestead
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2 thoughts on “Starting your Sourdough Starter – Where to Start!”

  1. Thank you Hayley, I will definitely be trying the sourdough starter! My family and I just adore sourdough but I have never attempted my own before.

    As always, thanks for your inspiration.

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