Fermented foods, of which our diets are severely lacking, have the ability to make food easier to digest as well as provide our bodies with needed nutrients and beneficial bacteria. Sourdough is one of those fermented foods.
It’s been a few years since I’ve taken the time to experiment with sourdough breads, it always seems so tricky and I got tired of baking bricks. I was able to make a few good loaves, but never with consistency. The one sourdough food we really loved though were pancakes. So easy to make and deliciously light.
We then went gluten-free and gave up bread for the most part, making only a loaf of yeasted bread every few months.
As we discussed yesterday in our post about digestion, preparing foods properly is really important. It helps our bodies absorb more nutrients and it is easier on the gut, causing less issues. One of the ways to properly ferment grains (breads) is to use a sourdough method.
This method has been used for centuries; our great-grandmothers worked in their kitchens making this traditional bread, their cupboards held a jar of the starter. Instant yeast was not easily accessible if available at all, so sourdough was the only way you could get a bread to rise.
“Sourdough breads are leavened by a starter that contain natural yeasts and acids. The airborne yeast creates the enzymes needed to eat up or predigest some of the toughest-on-your-belly parts of the grain. This action creates carbon dioxide, which gets trapped in tiny pockets of dough, resulting in a natural rising of the bread.” -Shannon
Preparing breads using a sourdough method is also known to break down the gluten when using a wheat flour, lowers the starch content of the grain as the bacteria present consume the sugars and starch, and it also nutralizes an enzyme within the grain called phytic-acid.
Through the process of lactic acid fermentation is also activates the phytase to hydrolyze (dissolve) the phytates, thus freeing up minerals such as: zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. (source: Katie Kimball)
All in all, sourdough breads are much easier for the body to digest and as an added benefit, the bacteria also add nutrients into it as well.
In my goal to make 2013 the year of the ferments in our home, I’m beginning to experiment again, and we currently have a nice little gluten-free sourdough starter happily fermenting away on the counter.
How to Make a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
- 4 cups brown rice flour
- 3 cups filtered/non-chlorinated water
- optional - 2 tbsp water kefir
- It's important to have water free from chemicals, specifically chlorine as it may damage the starter. If you have city water (versus your own well) you can place a jar or bowl of water, uncovered, out on the counter overnight. You can also boil the water for ten minutes and let cool to room temp.
- Day one - four you are going to place ¼ cup of flour and a scant ¼ cup of water into a jar and stir with a wooden (or plastic) spoon every morning and every night. I find that when making a starter, it's helpful to feed it twice a day for the first few days. Cover your starter with a thin towel or cloth jar cover. (I've also used coffee filters and rubberbands which work well)
- If your starter doesn't seem every active, you can "boost" it a bit by adding a tablespoon of water kefir.
- By day five your starter should be bubbling along and able to sustain just one feeding per day, so each day you add ½ cup of brown rice flour and ⅓ cup of water. The consistency we're looking for is going to be like cake batter, so add more or less water based on how yours looks.
- At day seven you should have enough starter to make your first sourdough recipe! If you're not looking to use it immediately,place it in a mason jar with a solid cover and refrigerate, feeding once a week or so to keep it active.
If you are not completely gluten-free, you can also add a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour (I’d recommend spelt or einkorn flour) as it can help boost the health of your starter. You can also make a whole wheat sourdough starter.