Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Start of Sourdough

Look what I caught: 
Wild yeasts!!

I started this sourdough start two days ago, and see how lovely and bubbly it is already? I followed the instructions on "starting a start" from the GNOWFGLINS Sourdough eCourse, and it worked immediately.

In a pint-size jar, I mixed:

        •  1/4 c. pure water (no chlorine) with
        •  3/8 c. freshly-ground whole wheat flour

I covered it loosely with a napkin and let it sit overnight. The next morning, I was so excited to see some bubbly life already, I did a wild yeast dance for my boys. They joined right in.

I fed it again in the same manner, mixing in the water first, and let it sit another half a day.

As anticipated, it began to rise on its own, so now with subsequent feedings, I discard half the start, and feed 1/4 c. water followed by 3/8 c. flour. (Many say using rye flour in a start is best, so I may start mixing some in.)

Just like me, a start stays happy if warm and fed. :)

Once it's been alive for about a week, and is doubling in size between each feeding (about every 12 hours), it will be ready to use. Can't wait to try my hand at some whole grain sourdough bread this weekend!


But do you know that you can make more with sourdough than just bread? Pancakes, tortillas, pasta, crackers, scones, muffins, pizza, chocolate cake... anything you do with flour can be done with sourdough. In fact, yeast as we know it wasn't commercially available until the 1870s. Sourdough is the choice of the ages. Some people have starts that date back to the pioneer days!

It may not surprise you that lacto-fermenting grains is the healthiest way to prepare them. The sourdough process helps breaks down gluten, increases nutritional content, neutralizes phytic acid (which inhibits absorption of some key minerals in the body), and improves digestibility by pre-digesting the starches. This video reiterates some of what I've said, but also explains nicely how sourdough works and enumerates the benefits:

It's nearly impossible to find sourdough made with whole grains (no refined flour), and once I've found it, I usually shouldn't afford it. Well, it doesn't get cheaper than flour and water, so I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get this right.

Stay tuned for more on sourdough. In the meantime, why don't you start your own!


  1. Will you teach me the wild yeast dance when I come to visit? But more importantly, I need a bread lesson! I don't know where you learn all these things Nonie, or how you even learn what questions to ask. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Yes, I'm almost more curious about the dance than the start as well. Maybe you'll share both?

  3. So, wait (pardon my cluelessness), if I use sourdough starter, I don't have to use yeast? AWESOME!

  4. I love my sourdough starter. I do use rye flour and I like the flavor it gives my bread especially. Fresh baked bread made with fresh ground wheat is one the my family's favorite things.

  5. Nonie, I started my own a while ago using only rye. Is raised amazingly! Things got crazy with a baby though, and my starter starved... Bad pet owner award?

  6. Meredith and VD- the wild yeast dance would suit you both wonderfully.

    Erin- that's right. With sourdough, you catch your own out of thin air! It is completely awesome.

    Laura and Melissa- I'll definitely try some rye. Thanks for sharing! And Melissa, my start totally feels like having a pet. In fact, it's calling right now.....

  7. Just when I had enough cooking projects. This looks like another I can't resist. Thanks, Nonie!

  8. I'm doing the wild yeast dance, right now. But I made it up myself.
    Do you grind the rye flour? Where do you get your rye to grind?

    I love this post, and all the posts on this wonderful, informative, inspiring blog. I love the girls who write them and their baby boys too.

  9. You can get whole rye from Azure Standard (of course), and probably from Honeyville Grain too. I'm sure Whole Foods carries it in bulk.

  10. Bob's Red Mill sells rye berries and rye flour. Which you can purchase online from them or amazon. My Whole Foods usually carries it as well as Sunflower Market.

  11. This is such a great blog!!! Really makes me hungry just reading and looking at the pictures : ) I recently baked my first loaf of bread and it was incredible!!! I used a starter my friend told me about. It's from Sourdough's International and now I have to spread the word! I loved it. Definitely going to order more when it comes the time.