The printed version of Simple Food {for winter} is almost here. We wanted to make sure that you would get a quality product so we had to make some changes to the layout. I hope to have it available for order next week!

I am continuing my making series today with another item from our kitchen, sourdough starter. When we began our no groceries challenge in December I knew that it would be nice to have something special. Not heading out to shop has also afforded us some more time at home to hand-grind grains and keep up with a sourdough starter.

So I have been baking sourdough bread for the past month or so. To put this into perspective I haven’t baked homemade yeast breads in a few years, so when my first loaves came out of the oven there was some excitement in the room. And because of our bread hiatus it was quite the treat slathered with butter.

How to Identify a Food Intolerance

One advantage of going without a food (wheat) for so long is that your body has time to clear it out completely. Then when you reintroduce it into your diet, your body can send up red flags indicating an intolerance or allergy. Sadly, that is what happened to me and my eldest son.

After a few weeks of eating a bit of the bread every week my joints ached. I could hardly stand up out of a kneeling position due to the pain, which I had never experienced before. Sure enough a week away from the bread cured it. My oldest son’s symptoms are more of a result of too many grains or sugars, which tells me he still struggles a bit with candida.

But, for those who can eat wheat, including the very happy papa, sourdough is the way to go. The "sour" in the starter predigests the grain and helps to neutralize phytic acid. The final product has been a hearty and definitely sour bread, which I will have to share more on later. Today, though, let’s just talk about the starter.

How I Made My Starter

  • Day 1: combine 1 cup freshly ground wheat flour with 1 cup warm water. Cover with towel or coffee filter and secure with rubber band or canning ring. Place in a warm place.
  • Day 2: add 1 cup freshly ground wheat flour and 1 cup warm water. Repeat.
  • Days 3-5: repeat.

By this point you should have a funny smelling slightly bubbly concoction. At one point it smelled like soured milk and I thought it was a goner. But it surprised me the next day by smelling of sourdough and becoming bubbly and active. The time it takes the starter to become active will probably depend on what yeast beasts you have hanging around in your home.

Maintenance

When I am baking with sourdough regularly – muffins, pancakes, and bread – I keep feeding it every day. Otherwise you can keep it in the refrigerator and feed it once a week or so.

I read in the River Cottage Break Book that starters like to have some air whipped into them about once a week. So I dump it into a big bowl and let my four-year-old go to town with a wooden spoon. After ten minutes both him and the starter have had enough.

So that is how I made and maintain my starter. You can also purchase a dried starter from Cultures for Health to ensure that the yeasties will be present. This takes out a bit of the guesswork and insures a good starter.

Do you bake with sourdough?