The Sweetness of Sourdough

Health Benefits You Can Stomach from Sourdough 

Baking your own bread and specifically creating sourdough bread provides consumers with innumerable health benefits that they can’t get from mass produced commercial breads.

First, bread made commercially has to be created quickly. It’s all about volume, stacking the shelves and selling product. Bread made in massive amounts uses commercial yeast, resulting in a leavening process that takes only 90 minutes. Sourdough does not use commercial yeast. That means that the sourdough leavening process is much longer than that of commercially made breads—anywhere from six to 36 hours. Why is that important?

The longer leavening process is one of natural fermentation, which includes organic yeasts and enzyme enhancing bacteria. These combine in a process that results in a bread that is easier to digest and contains nutritional advantages.

Sourdough bread rates a 68 on the glycaemic index as opposed to the rating of 100 by other breads. Foods that have low ratings on the glycaemic index are prominent in societies that tend to have lower incidence of diseases and unhealthy conditions that run rampant in our culture such as diabetes.

Researchers in Sweden at Lund University have noted that the fermentation process that’s involved in the creation of sourdough utilizes carbohydrates, lowering the carbohydrate level in the dough as it’s transformed to lactic acid. The result of this process means that sourdough bread can aid in ensuring that your blood glucose level remains in line, helping to guard against various diseases such as diabetes.

Additionally, sourdough made from unprocessed flour has complex carbohydrates. The complex carbs in sourdough aren’t transformed into fat; they are turned into energy. Additionally, sourdough that contains whole grains provide necessary minerals and trace elements, including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium and phosphorous. Once again, it’s the sourdough fermentation process that makes these minerals readily available.

There are various helpful and healthful bacteria that are created during sourdough fermentation. Lactobacillus, which is the most important of the bacteria found in sourdough, produces lactic, formic and acetic acids. These serve to help prevent harmful organisms, including E. coli, from taking root. 

B-Complex vitamins, such as biotin, are contained in sourdough. Biotin is an important element in cell growth, the metabolizing of fats and amino acids and the production of fatty acids.

Of course, along with all of the positive health benefits, homemade sourdough also has a wonderful texture and great taste. If you’re looking to live a little healthier, have some fun in the kitchen and garner a sense of accomplishment, homemade sourdough is the recipe for you.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo October 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

This question is for AMY, have you printed your cookbook and if so how do we find it?
thanks
Jo

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Dianna Moorer January 31, 2010 at 1:17 pm

http://www.io.com/~sjohn/sour.htm
These are wonderful directions and a recipe for sourdough bread. I use 100% whole wheat flour. And in addition I add two eggs and half a cup of honey instead of the sugar. No commercial yeast called for. The direction are at the link.

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Carla November 20, 2009 at 11:41 am

Hello Again..I’m trying figure out whayt bread recipes i want to make and i am find that they also call for yeast in addition to the starter..I am confused..i thought that the starter was the yeast !!!! So is it possible to not add the extra yeast called for..I’m trying to be self-sufficent without buying yeast. what do you think
Thanks for your time and the reply to my last email about drying the yeast for long term storage..

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Amy November 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I am finally ready to share my cookie recipes, no eggs, I’ve got them in a on the computer but don’t know how to share them. The kids are making a cookbook to raise funds for Seward High School. I need an e-mail address from breadtopia to make the attachment and I’ll send them along. Hope you guys enjoy!

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Mary November 9, 2008 at 3:44 pm

My Mom has this recipe, but not the starter recipe. We would love it if anyone has it.
The recipe is:
1/2 oil
1/4 brown sugar
1 1/2 warm water
1T. salt
5-7 cups flour
It makes 3 loafes and you divide starter in half,etc, etc.
But we liked it because it was made with brown sugar.
If anyone has this or a similiar recipe I would be greatful!

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Bread Doofus October 28, 2008 at 9:32 am

Aha! I’ve always wondered why bread (the staff of life, for cryin’ out loud!) is supposed to be so bad for us, when people throughout history practically lived on bread up until now. Even more reason for me to get my sourdough starter going…my FIL was diabetic and I keep expecting my husband to come up with diabetes any day now….he’s a real snack/sugar fiend.

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Angela October 22, 2008 at 5:33 pm

I forgot to mention that the oven temp needs to be 350 for the cookies…sorry about not including that.
-Angela

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Amy August 28, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Angela, thank you so much for sharing, I’ll see if I can wrestle myself into posting one of my recipes. Amy.

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breadtopia August 28, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Thank you very much, Angela! :)

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Angela August 28, 2008 at 8:40 pm

This is a recipe that I have used to make sourdough cookies before with good results.

1/4 c butter
1/4 c shortening
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white Sugar
1 egg
1 c sourdough starter
1 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
chocolate chips

Combine sugar, shortening, egg, sourdough starter and vanilla. In another bowl mix flour, baking powder, soda and chocolate chips. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well and let rest at least 15 min (for even better benefits let it ferment for 1-12 hours) at room temperature. Shape into walnut-sized balls and then flatten (I use a highball type glass dipped in sugar). Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool slightly before taking off the cookie sheet.

This will make about 4 dozen (and every single one of them was eaten by my neices and nephews who had no idea that they were eating somewhat healthful cookies).

Hope you enjoy!

A website I have used to get sourdough and fermented recipies from is http://www.rejoiceinlife.com

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breadtopia August 27, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Well, it was a recipe I was after but can wait for your cookbook. Let me know when it’s out.

Didn’t know about brown sugar being beet sugar at some point. Figures that it could have been before “processed everything”. Guess you’d have to do some deep digging to learn anything. It would be nice to find out that it’s still made that way somewhere.

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Amy August 27, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Hi Eric,
I am currently trying to put together a cookbook and have 17 tried recipes for sourdough cookies, egg less, I use one ingredient all the others have missed and don’t want to give it away, so what do you want to know about them? One note they are the staple of my kids athletic teams during the year up here in Seward Alaska, seems sourdough has some health attaboys as well as being a great treat! I have one question, someone at work said that brown sugar used to be beet sugar, is this true and where do you get some? I like trying to recapture old lost recipes and bring them up to date, for fun.

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breadtopia August 27, 2008 at 6:44 am

Hi Amy,

I’d love to hear more about your sourdough cookies!!!

Eric

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Amy August 25, 2008 at 2:02 am

For the pancakes it’s 1 tsp baking soda, oops! Does anyone else make sourdough cookies? They are my speciallity, no eggs.

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Amy August 25, 2008 at 1:55 am

About that dead starter, not to worry simply feed it or use what you’ve got in pancakes, 4 cups starter, 1/16 tsp salt, 1/4 cup honey, a little water but don’t make it too runny, then sprinkle 1/2 tsp baking soda on top and mix with spatula, it will bubble, griddle should be oiled with saturated paper towel in between pancakes and at 4 on electric stove preheated for about 15 minutes.
Next with clean spatula feed sourdough starter with 2 heaping cups of unbleached flour and 2 cups level of tap water. Next place a paper towel over top of sourdough starter bowl and can either put near stove or by an open window to catch the fresh air, give it 8 to 12 hours to ferment, so feed at night, then next morning make pancakes again! Then feed again same as above, this will bring it back up to speed, one note all you need is about 1/3 cup sourdough starter left over when you feed it, remember no metal utensils, no red meat cooking or near in the refrig, wipe off excess of sourdough with paper towel and discard, it clogs the drain! And you can use a two quart plastic container with lid and store in refrigerator, I do. One note, be careful if sourdough starter liquid turns purple or orange. Also gather the dried bits of starter that collect on side of container and maybe allow spatula to air dry gathering bits also, store in small covered glass jelly jar and when starter seems a little defunct add some sourdough dry starter bits when you feed as above. Hope this helps!

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Angela August 22, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Evalyn,
I have used a sweet sourdough starter and added instant potatoe flakes to it in the past with good success. For the sweet starter (I think it was an Amish friendship bread starter) I used equal parts each of water, sugar and all purpose flour. I don’t remember how much potatoe flakes I used…I just remember I sprinkled quite a bit into my starter after it had soured; though it was not enough to make it thick as this is a thin starter. Hope that helps a bit. It did make wonderful bread until the South Texas heat zapped it (it got left too close to a window on a 100+ day…bad momma!). I have read where you can boil potatoes and use the water & mashed potatoes from that, mixed with flour to make a starter. I haven’t tried this and cannot vouch for it…I am currently in the process of making a new starter using grapes, flour and water.

If you’re into making your bread even healthier, you can always make a probiotic starter. Using Kefir whey mix equal parts of whey with whole wheat flour. It makes for an unusual bread; especially if you sprout your own grains.

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Evalyn August 12, 2008 at 2:22 pm

I use to have a sourdough bread starter and I feed it with instant potatoes and sugar I think. Does anyone have this starter recipe and feeding and are you willing to share it with me????? This recipe did have a sweet taste. I lost the starter when my Mom was living with us and she added instant potato soup. That really didn’t work. Thanks

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Connie June 18, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Daisy, is it possible you made the starter from yeast? I understand yeast-borne starters are not as hardy as the wild or established like those that have been around a long time. I’ve had my starters for years, with distinctive characteristics. For example, one doubles quite fast (it’s either Egypt or Russian, I goofed) and SF starter is really slow which may be the reason for its sourness, Carl’s 1847 starter is really hardy and hard to kill, gives great flavor. I’ve also found that when you refresh your starter, it needs a cool 4 hr or more rest in the fridge before you put it to work again. I sometimes just feed it well at room temp, let it sit out for an hour or two to check for life and put it back in the fridge to use later.

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breadtopia May 5, 2008 at 5:13 am

Hi Daisy,

Starter can get contaminated but it’s extremely rare for a starter just to “up and die” after two years especially when you’ve been caring for it and treating the same all this time. Since you’re not new at this by a long shot, or doing anything different, I don’t know what to suggest.

Before you give up the ship (assuming you haven’t tried this), take 1/4 cup of the starter and mix it with 1 cup of white flour and 2/3 cup of water (non chlorinated) and set it aside at room temperature and just see what happens. Do this in the morning when you’re around so you can check every couple hours or so. With this much flour, it may take quite a few hours to see growth. If nothing happens the whole day, my hopes would be fading.

Good luck.

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Daisy May 4, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Hello — I have had my starter for a couple of years and have usually had success with it. For some reason the last 2 or 3 times I’ve started to mix up some starter it has not risen. It is so frustrating because I have typically had success in the past. I don’t know of anything different I’m doing. What I’m wondering is does starter simply die out? I feed it weekly but I’m beginning to think it is dead! Any ideas?

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Jamie April 6, 2008 at 12:28 pm

My husband is also not a fan of the “sour” of sourdough. I have added a little honey (only about a Tablespoon) and this seems to cut the sour a bit.

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Sandy R March 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

I was ready to give up, and to say “heck with it”, put the
starter in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and did not touch it. Finally, decided to give it one more try. Tried a few things differently. Mixed the dough much drier this time,(it was too moist before) used soybean oil, dried milk, and let rise in a warm oven. I finally see what all the fuss is about. The dough raised as it should, and the taste is wonderful!!!
I guess perseverance does pay…..
My recipie is:

1 cup starter, 1 egg, 6 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp salt, 4 tbsp dried milk, 4 tbsp soybean oil. Mix well and add enough unbleached flour to make a stiff dough. Very light coat of
oil on surface of dough, and let rise in a warm oven.
Let double in size, knead on a floured surface, and place in baking pan, or pans. Let rise again, and then bake in a 350 degree oven, about 20 – 25 minutes.
I know this is a little different, but it makes a delicious bread. The more often you feed the starter, the less sour it is.
One more thing, I think my starter actually became more aggressive, the longer it stayed in the fridge.
Hope this encourages someone!!!!!!!!!!!

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Kristine March 11, 2008 at 12:04 pm

I was wondering if you or anyone has a recipe for kids to make bread by mixing it up in a baggie? I have 3 grandkids who enjoy baking bread with me and just wondered if it could be done.

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breadtopia February 2, 2008 at 10:44 am

Hi Sandy,

The milk wouldn’t be a problem, just more sugar (lactose) to feed the yeast. If your starter rises when you feed it, it’s kinda hard to figure out why your dough doesn’t rise using the same starter. At least not without being there. Where did you get the recipe you’re using?

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Sandy R January 31, 2008 at 8:24 am

My starter is frothy and definitely ready for making bread,
however, when I mix the ingredients to let rise for baking
bread, not much happens, no rise. I placed in a warm, not
too warm place. I use milk in the recipie. Could that be
the problem?? Help. I am ready to give up. Thanks.

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breadtopia January 23, 2008 at 7:27 pm

That’s kind of ironic. There are so many people who are trying to make their bread more sour.

But it’s not the recipe so much as how you treat the starter. It tends to get more sour the longer it goes between feedings. If you feed it well the day before you bake with it, it might tone it down a little. Or maybe shorten the proofing time some.

I heard from somebody recently who said when they started using their starter, their bread was quite sour but lately (for no apparent reason) it was becoming more mild. So maybe you’ll just find your bread becomes less sour without having to do anything special.

Please let us know what you find or what you figure out.

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Marjorie Troy January 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm

I ordered your sour dough starter and have made bread with it successfully. However, the bread is a little sourer than we like. Do you have a receipe that might tone it down a little. Thanks for your reply, Marjorie Troy

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breadtopia January 10, 2008 at 4:41 am

Hi Sylvia,

You can definitely bake no knead bread in a wood fired oven. But I wonder if you’d be better off not using a Dutch oven the like. I think one of the main points of using a Dutch oven or Cloche is to simulate a wood fired oven as much as possible. Obviously you don’t need to try to simulate it since you have it.

I would try it with and without the Dutch oven and see which you prefer. I have a feeling you’ll get a better result without.

Anyway, I sure hope you let us know what your findings are. I’m planning on building a wood fired oven and would love to know how it goes for you.

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Sylvia January 10, 2008 at 12:02 am

I received a wood fire pizza oven for christmas..I have been having so much fun cooking and learning new things with it…I have made great pizza and now I want to do bread…can you tell me if I can bake the No Knead breads in my wood fire oven..does anyone have videos cooking in this type of outdoor woodfire pizza oven? I would love all the information anyone might have about baking bread in my new oven. Thank You, Sylvia

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