Sourdough is an adventure in a jar. It’s a simple example of dominion in the kitchen. Water and flour get transformed into a bubbling colony of microscopic bacteria, oozing their tangy scent as they aid our digestion.
Even sourdough bread recipes are less of a science and more experimentation and adventure. Your starter controls how long it takes to raise, the flavor, how much flour to add and so on. Yet the added mystery is totally worth it because of how much healthier sourdough bread is.
I used to not like sourdough bread. The flavor was too pungent. But some foods are worth learning to like. As Brad Belschner pointed out, “Good taste, like good morals, is acquired and built. If something is obviously superior, then why shouldn’t we teach ourselves to enjoy it?”
The Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread
What makes sourdough worth acquiring a taste for?
Wheat was designed with phytic acid to preserve the kernel until it was ready to grow into a new plant. The phytic acid protects the kernel and prevents the nutrients from being consumed until the grain is planted. While this is great for the wheat, it causes problems for us. Not only are the nutrients carefully guarded, the phytic acid actually leeches nutrients from our bodies. Occasionally this can be a good thing, like if you wanted to detoxify your body of heavy metals, but usually the point is to obtain nutrients from our food!
The solutions to this problem include soaking the ground wheat in an acid like vinegar or buttermilk before baking, sprouting the grains, or making sourdough.
Sourdough is the simplest option and has been used for centuries. It wasn’t until the middle of the 1800s that commercial yeast even became readily available. Before that, you had to capture the yeast. Sourdough starters were treasured and even passed on for generations.
As the wild sourdough yeast spreads through the flour it eats the sugar and causes it to ferment and rise, while breaking down the protective phytic acid. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Make Your Own Sourdough
Folks have been making sourdough for centuries—before they had ovens or running water. Making sourdough is simple. Yes, it takes longer than regular yeast bread to rise, but your patience is paid off in a better, healthier loaf of bread. So embrace the adventure and make your own sourdough bread!
Want to purchase a starter? This one’s highly rated.
photo by Jana Koll
[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]