I've been talking since week 1 about a series on sourdough, and here it's finally beginning. The more I think about it, the more I realize that learning sourdough is no simple thing. Therefore, we'll just start at the beginning and hope this series doesn't grow into a big old dough monster. Be comforted that keeping and using your sourdough starter is indeed simple, and I also think it is fun.
Why bother baking my own bread?
I think it is a great idea to bake your own bread. It is economical and you know exactly what you're putting on your family's plates when you serve them your homemade bread. It is very difficult to find bread at the store that doesn't include a laundry list of preservatives and enhancers. Also, I have yet to find a bread at the store that can compare to the taste of my homemade sourdough bread. Of course, that last one is just my opinion. :)
What is sourdough starter?
Sourdough starter is simply flour, water and bacteria. What is that you say? Gross? Bacteria? Actually, many bacteria are beneficial to our bodies and our immune systems. You might say I'm pro-germ, but that would be another post for another day. The bacteria is the yeast that will make your sourdough bread rise. It also helps breakdown phytates, freeing up more of the nutrients in your whole grain flour. Sourdough yeast helps begin the digestive process, making sourdough bread more easily digestible than other breads. It also lowers the insulin response, making it less likely to spike your blood sugar.
Ok, you've convinced me. How do I make sourdough starter?
Ha! I knew you'd see the light! The best way to get sourdough starter is from a friend who already has some. The starter culture will be well established and you'll have someone nearby to answer any questions you have on your journey. If you live in south Louisiana, I'll be glad to sell you some for just a little! You can also order a sourdough starter online.
I've never tried making my own starter, I got mine from my Mom. I have researched it, though, and it doesn't seem too hard. I've found 2 methods:
2 cups flour (all purpose, bread, or whole wheat)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
Mix all the ingredients in a glass jar or bowl. Cover loosely. Let sit on your countertop, stirring once a day, until it starts to get bubbly and smell yeasty.
This method is a little more in depth, but doesn't seem difficult. It involves actually "catching" yeast that are already floating around in the air. That's fascinating to me. We have little yeasties floating all around us, apparently. I think that this method would make a good homeschool project.
Since I haven't tried this, I'll refer you to this page, where Laura at Heavenly Homemakers chronicles her starter making journey in-depth. (In order to get to days 2-8, you'll have to type "sourdough starter" in the search box and click on the day you want in.)
Now that you know how to start your starter, you'll need to know how to feed it to keep it alive, so tune in Wednesday for that info, as well as a recipe for some yummy sourdough sandwich bread. I actually have some in the oven calling me right now!
Have you ever tried sourdough bread? Have you ever tried making bread? Do have any experience with sourdough starter? Do share!