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Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better for You and How To Start One

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Why Should You Eat Sourdough? What’s the Difference Between Sourdough and Bread Made With Rapid Rise Yeast?

If you’ve been following along on my journey to health then you probably know that I soak, sour, or sprout all the grains, nuts, and legumes that I eat, usually with some sort of acid (typically whey from my raw yogurt). This soaking process does several different things, the most important being it neutralizes the naturally occurring phytic acid in these plant foods.

Phytic acid acts as an anti-nutrient, actually blocking nutrients and minerals from being absorbed in your digestive tract. In small quantities it’s not a huge problem but for many people the complex carbohydrates that are provided from grains, legumes, and nuts make up a large portion of their diets. That’s when reducing phytic acid becomes so important! This is really becoming a health problem when we talk about “plant-based” diets. Most modern people who practice plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diets are often consuming much higher levels of phytic acid.

When you bake with sourdough the fermentation process is long, giving plenty of time for producing the lactic acid required for phytic acid reduction. It is for this reason that I am committed to baking with sourdough and use alternative flours like almond very sparingly.

On the other hand, rapid rise yeast consumes the sugars in the flour so quickly and without the benefit of lactic acid-producing bacteria that very little reduction in phytic acid occurs. This is a major problem considering the quantity of bread foods that most of the world consumes on a daily basis.

Almost all traditional peoples knew to soak and ferment the grains, nuts, and legumes they were consuming. And all bread was naturally leavened (like sourdough) up until the invention of rapid rise yeast in the 1860s.  So for over 14,000 years of bread making, humans were utilizing wild yeast. And over the last two centuries we have almost completely abandoned these traditional ways. If you are starting to wonder if there is a correlation between abandoning our traditional food-ways and our declining health then you are on the right track.

To learn more about traditional peoples, what real traditional foods they ate, and why they had superior health please read Sally Fallon Morell’s new book Nourishing Diets: How Paleo, Ancestral and Traditional Peoples Really Ate

The sourdough fermentation process also breaks down gluten protein, making it much easier to digest!

Many people with gluten sensitivities are able to enjoy traditionally fermented sourdough bread! The longer the bread ferments, the more gluten protein is broken down. Real sourdough bread can be fermented for 12, 24, 36, 48, or even up to 72 hours!

A bubbly jar of fermented sourdough starter, perfect for baking artisan style breads.

Page Guide

Page 1. Intro
Page 2. What Is Sourdough?
Page 3. Bread Terminology
Page 4. Why Eat Sourdough?
Page 5. Tools
Page 6. Starter Recipe
Page 7. Fresh Starter vs. Discard
Page 8. Starter Hydration & Feeding
Page 9. Favorite Recipes
Page 10. Troubleshooting Sourdough
Page 11.  Starter Insurance Policy
Page 12. Using Stale Bread
Page 13. Recipes You Don’t Want To Miss

Cathleen

Saturday 25th of February 2023

What is the difference between bread flour and home ground 100% wheat flour? Thank you for your help.

Butter For All

Monday 27th of February 2023

Hi Cathleen!

Bread flour is in most cases a hybridized wheat with a high protein content. Typically it is either sifted or hulled to remove the outer bran and keep the soft, white, inner starch. The high protein content translates to higher gluten development and a more open crumb structure.

Home ground wheat flour can be any wheat variety you choose, but it will have 100% of its hull ground into the flour. So it will have more vitamins and minerals, more flavor, translating to a higher chance of spoilage due to the increased oil content, and more anti-nutrients that will need to be taken care of with soaking, sprouting or souring. It's best to keep whole wheat kernels and fresh ground flour in the refrigerator or freezer. Or only grind as much as you can use in a few days. Whole wheat flour will create a bread that is much more dense with less gluten development, but a lot more flavor and nutrition.

I hope that helps!

Courtney

Ella

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Hello Courtney, I started my sourdough starter journey last week. I used day 1 50g of whole wheat flour and 50g water, day 2,3 and 4 i used ratio 1:2:2 (25g starter, 50g flour and 50g water). It was doing very well day 2 (almost rised twice by 24 hours), day 3 rised less but bubbles were there, day 4 the same. Am I feeding it too much? You have a different ratio in your recipe - 50g starter, 25g flour and 25g water. Temperature in my kitchen is between 70-72 degrees

Thank you for your advice! Ella

Butter For All

Monday 27th of February 2023

Hey again! I answered you in the previous question, but I will say that the temp could be increased to really favor the yeast. Check out the temperature inside your oven with the light on. If it's between 80-95℉ you could keep your starter in there while it becomes established. If it's too warm in the oven, try cracking the door to see what temp the oven stays at.

Ella

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Hello Courtney, I started my sourdough starter journey last week and I'm on day 4 now. It rises less then before and it troubles me. I used 50g whole wheat flour and 50g water 1st day. Next days I used ratio 1:2:2 (25g starter, 50g flour and 50g water). I noticed that you used a different ratio in your recipe - 50g starter, 25g flour and 25g water. Am I giving him too much in my feedings?

Thank you, Ella

Butter For All

Monday 27th of February 2023

Hi Ella!

Sorry for the slow reply I recommend a 1:2:2 ratio for reviving a dehydrated starter, but for starting a starter from scratch, I like a 2:1:1 ratio. This ensures the yeast (who may be struggling to reproduce quickly) aren't getting overly diminished with each feeding. It's really very normal for you to see a big rise in the first day or two when the bacteria isn't as established, followed by a slower period of yeast growth as things start to balance out and the lactic acid starts to build. The yeast have to adjust to this new acidic environment. Hopefully you kept going and are starting to see some consistency with rising. I think you could continue with a 1:2:2 ratio (there is no definitive ratio) or try reversing it to see what works best in your situation. I hope you'll follow up to let me know how it goes!

Best of luck,

Courtney

Wendy

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Hello!l Courtney!

I am a beginner and I appreciate your very thorough articles. So helpful and something I plan on sharing with my daughter. 😊💕

One request… when viewing your articles on my iPhone, the DO NOT SELL tab blocks the left side of the screen making it difficult to read all of your instructions. If there is any way you could move that tab to another location, it sure would be helpful.👍

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to being your student!

My Best, Wendy

Butter For All

Wednesday 18th of January 2023

Hi Wendy,

Thank you for your thoughtful note, I love hearing that you are getting your daughter involved in cooking and baking!

I'm so sorry there is a tab blocking you from accessing the site correctly. I'm not sure what the "Do not sell" tab is. So would you mind grabbing a screen shot and emailing it to me at courtney@butterforall.com please? I will check it out and see if it's something I can fix myself!

Sarah

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hi Courtney!

I’m very new to the sourdough world and am doing some reading before I fully commit. With your starter recipe, what size of glass container do you use? Some have said it can more than double in size... I want to have a big enough jar but not too big... Also, would a plastics twist lid work? I’m thinking it would breathe very well?

Thanks for being such a thorough sourdough resource for this newbie!

Butter For All

Thursday 11th of August 2022

Hi Sarah!

Welcome! Typically I use a quart jar or larger. I like to have lots of starter on hand for many baking projects. But it really depends on how much you want to keep. You can always switch containers if you need to make more or less. You are right, a plastic screw on ball jar lid works great! I also like locking lid jars with the seal removed. You'll have to keep me posted on your progress!!

Happy Baking,

Courtney

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