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Sourdough Bread



The Coronavirus lockdown has had its challenges and low points, but one of the unexpected benefits is that I enjoyed learning how to make sourdough bread. It has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to slow down and have a creative project that has finally resulted in freshly baked and healthy bread! What projects have you finally got round to in the last few weeks? If you want to try making sourdough yourself, here is my (recently) tried and tested thoughts on creating a reliable starter and making a delicious loaf of bread every week!


Why Sourdough?

Firstly, though, why is sourdough bread so much better than the bread we buy in the shops? Sourdough is made from a starter of wild yeast containing lactobacillus cultures (and probiotics!). The bread made from this active starter has a much longer, slower fermentation.

Because of this thorough fermentation, sourdough makes other nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid and other B vitamins easier to digest and absorb. During the baking process lactic acid is created which decreases the levels of phytic acid in the bread (which ‘locks-up’ nutrients and reduces the body’s ability to absorb them) Rather than locking nutrients away, sourdough improves nutrient bioavailability.[1] Sourdough is also much better than processed bread for people with Diabetes because it produces a significantly lower glucose and insulin response, as shown in research published in Acta Diabetologica in 2008.[2]


What about gluten? The flour that is used to feed the sourdough starter and to make the sourdough bread does have gluten, but the fermentation process breaks it down so much that it does not cause such damage to the intestinal lining as the gluten in processed bread. Interesting, a small study in Italy from 2011 showed that coeliac patients who ate sourdough bread for 60 days had no complaints and biopsies showed little or no changes to their intestinal lining. You can read about this study in the January edition of the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. You can also read more research in the journals Applied and Environmental Microbiology[3]  and Journal of Food Protection[4]. However, if you suffer from coeliac disease, I do not recommend doing an experiment on yourself right now! Please see me if you want to discuss the possibilities personally.


Step One: The Sourdough Starter

To get started, you need the fermented flour mixture that will be the basis of all your sourdough bread. This is called the starter and many people become so proud of their starter yielding such delicious bread week by week that they give it a name. I have read of people with starters called Eleanor, Sparkie, Levy or Twinkle. You can order one online or make your own at home. I made my own by following these steps. You can also give it a name it you want to 🙂


Step Two: Feeding the Starter

This is the fun bit because you see the starter in action as it goes through the fermentation process. It needs to be fed with a mixture of flour and water every day. As it feeds, it will bubble slowly and expand. If you have your starter in a small jar like I did you may find it bubbles over the top and you are left with a sticky mess. The simple solution is to put it in a large jar and keep the starter small.

To stop the starter growing far too much (in which case you would have to keep feeding it more and more flour and water), you need to discard half of it each time you feed it. That is the perfect excuse to make something else with it and you can see so many delicious recipes online from sourdough pizza to sourdough pancakes and sourdough crumpets to sourdough quiche. There are lots of ideas from King Arthur Flour here.

I now keep my starter in the fridge and take it out once a week to feed it and bake with it. Then I put it back in the fridge! Here is how to feed it:

  • 1 cup (113g) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113g) lukewarm water

Stir the starter well and discard all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup). Add the water and flour. Mix until smooth, and cover. Repeat every 12 hours.


Step Three: Making Sourdough Bread

Once you have a healthy, bubbly starter, you can start to make bread with it! Remove 1 cup starter to bake with when it’s expanded and bubbly (remember to feed the remaining starter immediately and keep feeding it every 12 hours or put it in the fridge to sleep!) This is a wonderful recipe that was given to me by a friend of mine. It has been tried and tested as a fool-proof method and I was not disappointed! Also, Cultures for Health have videos, articles, photos and tutorials for all aspects of making sourdough and I find it a great place to go for ideas and tips!


With every blessing,



Emma Maitland-Carew – Registered Nutritional Therapist

Dip.ION, mBANT, CHNC Registered Practitioner,

Metabolic Balance® Coach, HeartMath Coach.

[1] Lopez, H W et al, ‘Making bread with sourdough improves mineral bioavailability from reconstituted whole wheat flour in rats’, Nutrition, 2003; 19(6): 524-530.

[2] Maioli, M., Pes, G.M., Sanna, M. et al. ‘Sourdoughleavened bread improves postprandial glucose and insulin plasma levels in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance’. Acta Diabetol, 2008; 45: 91–96.

[3] Di Cagno, R et al, ‘Sourdough bread made from wheat and non-toxic flours and started with selected lactobacilli is tolerated in coeliac sprue patients’, Appl Environ Microbiol, 2004; 7: 1088-96.

[4] Di Cagno, R et al, ‘Use of selected sourdough strains of Lactobacillus for removing gluten and enhancing the nutritional properties of gluten-free bread’, Journal of Food Protection, 2008; 71(7): 1491-5.

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