Why Sourdough Yeast?
Do you make your own sourdough artisan bread at home? Well now’s the time to make this delicious artisan bread. The results you’ll get at home will be unbelievable. This bread is billowing with bubbles and chewy with a thick chestnut brown crust. Your local baker may not even be able to replicate this sourdough artisan bread like you.
The Phytic acid found in wheat inhibits enzymes which are needed for the breakdown of proteins and starch in the stomach. It is this lack of enzymes which results in digestive difficulties. Ironically, commercially produced whole grain bread, generally perceived as “healthy,” is often the worst thing a person with a wheat intolerance should eat.
The wild yeast lactobacillus in the sourdough leaven neutralise the phytic acid as the bread proves through the acidification of the dough. This prevents the effects of the phytic acid and makes the bread easier for us to digest. These phytic acid molecules bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, which make these important nutrients unavailable to us. However the good news is, a long slow fermentation of wheat can reduce phytates by up to 90%.
There is an interesting study that compares the effects of different leavens (yeast, sourdough, and a mixture of both) on phytic acid degradation which assessed the repercussions of phytic acid breakdown on phosphorus and magnesium solubility during bread-making, that showed Sourdough fermentation was much more efficient than yeast fermentation in reducing the phytate content in whole wheat bread (-62 and -38%, respectively). The lactic acid bacteria present in sourdough enhanced acidification, which lead to increased magnesium and phosphorus solubility.
Simply put the phytase enzymes released by the yeasts as the dough acidifies effectively pre-digests the flour, which releases the micronutrients and in turn reduces bloating and digestive discomfort. Another benefit to sourdough is the prebiotic, which helps support the gut microbiome.
Did you gain knowledge? I suggest if you love bread you will take the time to make sourdough starter for your self!
How to Make a Starter!
Combine ½ cup flour and ½ cup filtered warm water 90F in a glass or plastic container. Make sure the container can hold about 2 quarts, to avoid overflow.
Stir vigorously to incorporate air; cover with a breathable lid.
Leave in a warm place, 70-85°F, for 12-24 hours. Feeding every 12 hours will increase the rate at which your sourdough starter is multiplying its organisms; feeding every 24 hours will take a bit longer, but may be more sustainable depending on your time commitment.
At the 12 or 24 hour mark you may begin to see some bubbles, indicating that organisms are present. Repeat the feeding with ½ cup warm water and ½ cup flour.
Stir vigorously, cover, and wait another 12-24 hours.
Repeat feedings every 12-24 hours by removing half of the starter before every feeding and discarding it. Feed with ½ cup warm water and ½ cup flour.
After about 5-7 days the sourdough starter should have enough yeasts and bacteria to be used for baking. Test the starter by filling a cup of warm water and taking a tablespoon of the yeast and gently place on top of the water. If it sinks the yeast is not ready to use. If it floats you can use the yeast starter.
How to Maintain a Starter?
Feeding to maintain a sourdough starter involves combining flour and water to ensure the starter has the “food” it needs to stay healthy and active. ( I use approximately 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water until it is a pancake batter.) Think of it like your child, as they grow they require more food and water to be healthy. They also need air to breath and a clean environment.(see feed your mother video) Feed your starter 1-3 times daily. This depends on how often you use your sourdough. Keeping it very active requires at least twice a day, morning and night. Most starters will require feeding every 8-12 hours, depending on the temperature in the culturing area.
If you bake frequently, maintain your starter at room temperature. If you don’t bake as often the starter can be left in the refrigerator. Make sure you bring it to room temperature before using.*Once removed from the refrigerator the starter can be used to prepare bread dough within 3-4 hours of being fed, to ensure the starter is at its peak of activity.
Keep in mind that some starters are naturally fast proofers, like a rye flour starter, so would require more frequent feedings.
When maintained at room temperature and fed daily, your sourdough starter will always be ready to use for baking. *Be sure to use unfed starter for your bread or prepare bread dough after 3-4 hours of being fed, to ensure the starter is at its peak of activity.
NOTE: A brown liquid layer on top of your starter, called hooch, indicates that the starter is hungry. If hooch forms, pour it off and feed the starter as soon as possible, then feed more frequently going forward.
How to Create a Thicker Starter
If pancake or waffles are a regular part of the morning meal, it may be helpful to maintain a slightly thicker starter. Feeding a starter 1 cup flour and 6 tablespoons water, or 75% hydration, is a good place to start. From there, determine if more or less water at a feeding is desirable. See my stiff sourdough starter recipe.
Keep in mind that most recipes are developed with a 100% hydration sourdough starter, and so any deviation from that, especially for those recipes that are not using a sourdough starter, they may produce a different final product.