I’m a big fan of homemade bread. There’s something really magical about the process of rising, bashing and baking and nothing beats the smell of a freshly baked loaf wafting around the house! Smells great and tastes even better….
We started making our own rye sourdough a couple of years ago, when we chose to cut back on the amount of wheat in our diets. We felt so good for it and it tasted amazing…there really was no turning back! We now make two loaves every week using the same ‘starter’ that we created all those years ago.
A sourdough ‘starter’ is a natural alternative to modern mass-produced yeast, made by simply mixing flour and water which is left uncovered to ‘capture’ the wild and totally natural yeast spores in the air. It’s an ancient method of creating a rising agent for ‘leavening’ bread which goes back thousands of years.
In the long, slow fermentation that produces the starter, important nutrients like iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid and other B vitamins become easier to absorb. Slow fermentation also reduces gluten, which makes the bread easier to digest and it produces a lower surge in blood sugar than any other type of bread.
So, less bloating, more energy, tastier, more bio-available nutrients, healthier…it really is fantastic stuff! A starter can be made with any type of flour, but we love the tangy taste and added health benefits of using organic rye flour. When you’re ready to bake, here’s the recipe for our tasty rye sourdough bread. Until then, good luck getting started with your starter!
Rye Sourdough 'Starter'
- Day 1:
- 40g organic rye flour
- 60g cold filtered water
- Day 2:
- 80g organic rye flour
- 120g cold filtered water
- Day 3:
- 160g organic rye flour
- 240g cold filtered water
Creating your starter
- Days 1-3: On day 1 simply mix the flour and water together in a clean glass jar (I use a 1ltr Kilner jar, available here) and leave to stand uncovered on the kitchen work surface. On day 2 add the flour and water, gently combine and leave to stand. On day 3 add the remaining flour and water and again, leave to stand.
- Day 4: I never like this next bit, but it’s necessary to maintain a ‘lively’ and active starter! You now need to discard most of the mixture keeping only 100g. Then you begin all over again, repeating the steps in days 1-3, but now you have the extra 100g as a base.
- Repeat this cycle of adding to the mixture over a few days, then reducing to 100g, then adding to it again, then reducing to 100g and so on and so forth…..for around 2-3 weeks. By this stage you’ll notice lots of bubbles forming in the mixture, which means it’s now ‘active’. Woohoo!
Maintaining your starter
Once your starter is active, it’s strong enough to be used in baking. Continue feeding your starter as above, but you can now keep a lid on the jar between ‘feedings’. If you decide not to bake at the day 4 stage, you can spread the ‘sourdough love’ by giving 100g away to family and friends instead of throwing it away. Then they can make their own little rye sourdough starters and so the cycle continues……
You’ll find that sourdough lovers talk about their starters as if they were pets and I have to admit to being very fond of our jar of the ‘bubbly stuff’! It does need caring for, it can be temperamental and it will need ‘feeding’ every day if you’re a regular baker. However, it can also be ‘put to sleep’ if you’re away on holiday or just want to take a break. Simply place it in the fridge at day 3 stage (ie: approx 800g in the jar) and leave it until you’re ready to ‘reactivate’ and get started again!
Best of luck getting started with your starter!
Recipe by Homegrown Kate www.homegrownkate.com