Last week I wrote about how Nourishing Traditions has challenged me to eat more unprocessed whole foods. Well, I managed to get some sourdough starter from the lovely Sarah Walsh, who also shared this easy breadmaker recipe for sourdough bread. Thanks Sarah!
Here's a picture of my gorgeous sourdough starter. Note the yeasty bubbles which show it's active:
You can make your own sourdough starter, but I've heard it's difficult to get a good result so was pleased to be given an already proven batch.
I store it in the fridge. To keep it alive I simply feed it with equal amounts of flour and water (usually about half a cup of each), either after I've removed some starter for baking, or every four days.
Sourdough bread ingredients
- 2c filtered water
- 2t unbleached natural sea salt
- 4c stone-ground wholemeal or rye flour (or a combination)
- 1/2c sourdough starter
Sourdough bread takes longer to rise than bread made using commercial yeast. See how much more it has risen in the next photo, after the extra seven hours.
After your dough has adequately risen, hit 'bake only'. That's it.
Sourdough bread contains no preservatives, so you'll want to keep it in the fridge to prevent mould growing. I slice mine up as soon as it has cooled from baking, and then store it in a plastic container in the fridge, ready to make sandwiches and toast.
Why eat sourdough?
Numerous studies have found sourdough to be the most nutritious bread available.
- While the bread is rising, it's also fermenting, a process that pre-digests starches, making sourdough bread easier to digest than quick bake varieties.
- Fermentation breaks down gluten, which may help gluten-intolerant people eat it without side effects.
- Sourdough naturally has lactic acid, which gives it its distinctive 'sour' flavour, but also breaks down phytic acid. This is what I see as being the most important health benefit as phytates block our absorption of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and phosphorous. When you eat quick-bake wholegrain bread, your body is unable to absorb any of those minerals because the phytates haven't been broken down. All those lovely nutrients, wasted. You may as well eat white bread.
- Sourdough protects vitamin B1 from damage caused by the heat of baking.
- The sourdough starter captures wild yeast from the air, so you don't need to buy commercial yeast. Where other bread recipes call for flour, yeast, milk powder, bread improvers, sugar and oil, sourdough bread is basically just flour, water and a pinch of salt. Even the sourdough starter is made with just flour and water. In short, all you pay for is flour, salt and the electricity needed to cook it.
You know exactly what you're eating.
- Again, just flour, water and a bit of salt. No long list of additives and preservatives.