About a year ago, Jim and I went to San Francisco without the children. I have always loved sourdough bread, so while we were there, we purchased several loaves to bring home with us.
The children adored it.
I looked into purchasing sourdough around here, but couldn’t find a good source. Then I looked into having sourdough shipped to me from San Francisco (yes, you can do that). But ultimately I decided I was going to teach myself how to make a good loaf of sourdough.
So I bought some sourdough starter* and began making bread. I figured since I had been grinding my own wheat* and baking whole wheat bread for more than a decade (remember when we baked bread in the sun oven?), how hard could it be?
Ummm… it was harder than I thought.
After about 3 months of bread that was very disappointing (it had a good sour flavor, but I couldn’t get it to rise well no matter what I tried), I was about ready to give up on the great sourdough experiment.
But as I was continuing to research, I came across a study performed by Guelph University. It compared four types of breads to determine which had the most positive health effects when it comes to carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar, and insulin levels. The subjects used were overweight people between the ages 50 and 60 who consumed the bread in the morning, and then ate a normal lunch.
The 4 bread types compared were:
- Whole wheat
- Whole wheat with barley
- Sourdough made with white flour
The studies showed that when the sourdough was consumed the subjects maintained their carb metabolism, blood sugar, and insulin levels. It was much better for you in regards to these indices than any of the other types of bread, even whole wheat.
As I continued to research, I found that sourdough has the following benefits:
1. Sourdough has a lower glycemic index than other breads. It is less likely to spike your blood sugar as dramatically as other types of bread.
2. Sourdough contains more Lactobacillus and less yeast. This leads to less phytic acid, more mineral availability, and easier digestion.
3. Sourdough predigests the starches in the grains. This also makes the bread more easily digestible and allows you to absorb more nutrients.
4. Sourdough helps to break down the gluten. This further helps with digestability and may help those who are sensitive to gluten.
5. Sourdough produces Acetic acid which helps preserve the bread. Naturally occuring preservatives are always healthier for you than chemical preservatives.
So, sourdough is the healthiest of all bread types because it is more nutrient dense, easiest to digest, and has the least impact on blood sugar.
That was it! I was not giving up! I was going to master sourdough bread.
The first thing I did was switch from whole wheat flour to unbleached white flour*. That alone made a huge difference. After a few more weeks experimenting, I was able to consistently produce sourdough bread that was had a good sour flavor, was pretty light and fluffy, and had a crispy crust.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be sharing what I learned. From how I keep my starter alive to how I make bread and what I do with all my extra starter, I hope you can learn from all my research and practice!
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