Spring is truly here and the garden is alive with activity. I have been taking advantage of the warmer weather with some more fermenting… Last week I made a sourdough starter to use for bread making, pizza dough, pancakes and more…
I find the art of making bread very grounding and nurturing for the soul. Especially the slow and gentle process of sourdough. This traditional technique of making bread is as old as the cultivation of grains itself. The modern version of bread using baker’s yeast to make a loaf in several hours, does not allow for the long fermentation grains require to make them more digestible. Some experts believe it is the way we are processing our grains that is resulting in such prevalent wheat and gluten intolerance. From my studies of natural nutrition, I tend to agree. The long fermentation also breaks down the phytic acid found in whole grains that can bind with minerals such as iron and zinc making them unavailable. Hence this practice of bread making also increases the nutrient value.
Making a Sourdough Starter
*In my new cookbook – Homegrown Kitchen: Everyday Recipes for Eating Well – I include a sub-section on sourdough bread making including detailed instructions on making and maintaining a successful sourdough starter. Plus three bread recipes including gluten-free bread and a rustic sourdough loaf (and many more everyday ways to use a starter). Homegrown Kitchen is available in bookstores and retailers around New Zealand and personally signed copies HERE.
Several notes before you start:
*Ideally use freshly ground flour – I order freshly ground from Terrace Farms in Canterbury. Organic flour is preferable because it will contain good amounts of wild yeast.
*Use tepid water approx. 35C (this will feel just warm to touch) to support yeast growth.
*Always use filtered water – chlorine in water may inhibit the yeast growth.
In a small jar, combine 30g (3 tablespoons) flour (I find organic wholemeal or white flour works the best, rye flour can also be used, however, it will ferment faster) with 30g (2 tablespoons) warm water. Beat together thoroughly so to incorporate air into the mixture essential for the growth of the yeast. Cover with a bowl cover or muslin cloth secured with a rubber band and leave in a warm place – I keep it on top of the fridge – for 24 hours. The purpose here is to introduce natural yeasts found in the flour into the starter.
Day 2 – 5:
Continue to feed the starter with 30g flour and 30g warm water every 24 hours. Over this time the sourdough will begin to omit a yeasty, sweetly sour smell, and start to bubble and froth. I love watching the daily changes, here are photos of day two and day four of my sourdough starter.
Once your starter looks like this and smells yeasty and sour it is ready. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this will take 3 – 5 days in total. The starter can now be used to make bread, however please note, it can take several bread cycles before the starter is in full form so the first few breads might be a little flatter. Persevere it will get there.
Give it try, it is a wonderful thing to make with children – tending and watching the starter change daily.
*For more detailed instructions on making and maintaining a healthy sourdough starter check out new cookbook Homegrown Kitchen HERE.