5 Benefits to Sourdough Preparation
(taken from Real Food Forager)
1- Increases beneficial lactic acid
The longer rise time needed for sourdough increases the lactic acid and creates an ideal pH for the enzyme phytase. This enzyme breaks down phytates more effectively than in yeast breads. Sourdough rye has the least amount of phytates making it a healthier bread.
2- Predigestion of starches
The bacteria and yeast in the sourdough culture work to predigest the starches in the grains, thus making it more easily digestible to the consumer.
3- Breakdown of gluten
Here again, the longer soaking and rising times in the preparation of sourdough breaks the protein gluten into amino acids, making it more digestible.
The acetic acid which is produced along with lactic acid, helps preserve the bread by inhibiting the growth of mold.
5- Better blood glucose regulation
There has been some research suggesting that sourdough bread — sourdough white bread — showed positive physiological responses. The subjects’ blood glucose levels were lower after eating sourdough white bread compared to whole wheat, whole wheat with barley and plain white bread. Interestingly, the subjects tested after eating whole wheat bread fared the worse — with spiking blood glucose levels.
Sprouting the wheat berries:
I usually sprout 4-5 cups at a time, using filtered water (not tap water). In a large bowl, cover wheat berries with enough water to go over them by about 2 inches. Leave covered and sitting in a dark corner over-night. Most of the water will get absorbed but add more if the water disappears completely. After about 10-12 hours, drain and rinse, spread on your dehydrator shelves or on large cookie sheets, allow to stay moist and sprout for an additional 6-8 hours until you see tiny white roots beginning to stick out of the berries. Dehydrate the berries until they are hard, then store in a zip-lock until ready to mill, or mill them when they are dry. You can also use the sun to dry them if the weather is warm, dry and sunny. Grind the dried sprouted wheat berries in your mill, this is your sprouted grain flour!
You must first make your own “starter”
There are about as many ways to start a sourdough starter as there are sourdough chefs, and there are some basics that you should know about before you begin. I highly suggest doing some research and studying 5-6 educational resources on the topic of sourdough starters before decided how to make your own. This is a great link to some valuable beginner information about how to make your own sourdough starter.
A great source for information and starter products is “Cultures For Health.” This site offers many types of starters for many types of fermented foods!
At the time of this blog (5/6/2014), I have only been making sourdough for about three months. Actually, I have been learning to make sourdough for three months, it is only recently that I have been able to create consistent results time after time, with the exception of those times when I don’t pay attention to details and make mistakes. Consider the mistakes your personal teacher, for you will learn valuable lessons from your mistakes that will guide you to better and better results. The starter seems to be a huge key to the success, and I am still using the “descendent” starter from my original batch. I bake a lot of bread, so it gets fed every day and has become very active. The more active it becomes, the better the bread turns out. I keep my starter in a large mouth mason jar, fitted with a fermenting air-lock attached to the lid. But you could cover the jar with a thin cloth and use the ring of the lid only as well. I love the smell of the starter, it almost reminds of a the smell of a very light beer. I use King Arthur’s 100% organic brand of flours, but plan to expand to more types of flours in the future now that I am becoming more confident. I have used organic spelt flour, as well as whole wheat flour (organic) to feed my starter, as I have read that using various types of flours can add additional flavors and types of bacteria to your starter as time goes by.
My personal recipe for sourdough starter:
1/2 cup organic sprouted and milled wheat flour
1/2 cup filtered water
1. Add the flour and water together in a large glass mason jar, stir well with a wooden or plastic spoon. Cover lightly and without sealing the container (gases created during fermentation will cause the jar to crack if it cannot escape). I use an unbleached coffee filter that is attached upside-down on the wide-mouth jar using a rubber-band. Let sit for 12-24 hours.
2. Each day, “feed” your starter by pouring out half of the starter and then adding a little more flour and water, trying to keep a sticky, moist consistency. If the starter gets too big and over-flows the jar, pour out some of the starter to create room. Repeat this process for 4-6 days until it smells kind of like beer, or fermented grains. It should be ready to use after about five days of fermenting.
For more details about this method of creating your own starter, please see this link.
Suggestions for what you will need to make the dough:
1. A very large mixing bowl (the larger the bowl, the less flour ends up on your floor)
2. Flour sifter
3. Measuring cups
4. Old-fashioned hand-crank rotary mixer
5. Strong plastic mixing spoon
6. Large stainless steel bowl
7. 2 Loaf pans (I use glass)
8. Parchment paper
10. Clean water mister bottle with clean filtered water in it.
Step 1. Making the bread (makes 2 leaves):
approx. 1 – 1 1/2 cup starter
(it is best to use starter that has been fed within the previous 6-12 hours and is at its peak of fermentation [nice and high and bubbly], and before it starts to fall again)
1 tbsp finely ground sea salt (I use Celtic sea salt)
2 2/3 filtered room temperature water (non-chlorinated)
enough organic flour until no more can be absorbed into the dough
(Each loaf uses 1 1/3 cups of water, this will be your guide to how much flour you need. If you do not have sprouted grain flour, you can still make sourdough using flour out of a bag. Try to use organic flour.
Making the dough:
1. Using a hand-held mixer or whisk, blend the starter, salt and water together until everything is evenly dissolved. This is also the step in which you would add herbs, spices, raisins, olives, etc into your dough if desired.
2. In 1-cup increments, begin to add the flour to the mixture using the hand-held mixer until it gets too thick then switch to a strong plastic spoon.
3. Continue to add 1 cup increments of flour until the dough becomes too difficult to mix with the spoon, then switch to kneading until the dough is a solid ball that will not stick to your hands when kneading it.
4. Divide the dough in half and transfer to 2 loaf pans that are lined with parchment paper, let rise in oven with the light on until it is rounded and has reached a nice height over the sides of the loaf pan. 5-9 hours, depending on how active your starter was.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
5. Let experience be your teacher. There is never a fail, only a lesson to learn.
(ready to bake!)
2. How to store sourdough
1. If you want to store sourdough for future use, place into a large plastic zip-lock freezer bag or bread sack (available at restaurant supply stores or on Amazon.com) and put in the freezer. To eat, simply let the loaf thaw for several hours until completely room temperature. Leave in the bag unless you are slicing it. It should be good for 3-4 days after thawed. Some people like to slice it and then freeze, so that they can just take out a slice at a time and warm it in a toaster oven.
2. If you don’t want to freeze it, you can store it in a bread box or in a plastic bag that can be tied-shut to make it as air-tight as possible. Do not refrigerate, this will make it dry out quicker. The bread should be good for 2-4 days just sitting on your counter if it has some protection from the open air. Slice off each piece as you need it, and lightly warm each slice in toaster oven!
3. Old sourdough bread can be made into traditional French Toast!