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What is sourdough?

Updated: Apr 23

Sourdough bread has been baked for thousands of years. It's even been found to have been eaten by the Egyptians as far back as the year 1500 BC. Beyond it's amazing taste and texture, sourdough has a rich history and a simple fermentation process that sets it apart from any other bread type.


what is sourdough


Let's talk about what sourdough is, its health benefits, and how you can easily get started making your own sourdough bread at home.


What is Sourdough?

Sourdough is a type of bread that is naturally leavened. It's made from a mixture of flour and water that contains a culture of wild yeast and beneficial bacteria. That means sourdough is a leavening agent. Simply put, Sourdough is JUST YEAST!


Active dry yeast and sourdough basically do the same exact thing, but the difference in health benefits is profound. Before we were able to purchase isolated yeast from the store, if you wanted your bread to rise, you used sourdough.


Unlike other types of bread, which rely on commercial yeast for leavening, sourdough bread uses naturally occurring wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria present in the environment and the flour itself.


The slow fermentation process of sourdough gives it a distinct tangy flavor, crispy crust and a chewy texture. It's also easier to digest and healthier compared to bread made with commercial yeast, making it a great choice for people with digestive sensitivities.


Health Benefits of Sourdough:

Sourdough bread has several health benefits, thanks to the unique process of preparing the dough:

  1. Improved Digestibility: The fermentation process breaks down complex carbohydrates and gluten, making sourdough easier to digest for some people.

  2. Better Nutrient Absorption: Fermentation increases the availability of certain nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins, making them more accessible to your body.

  3. Lower Glycemic Index: Sourdough bread typically has a lower glycemic index compared to bread made with commercial yeast, which may help regulate blood sugar levels.

  4. Less Gluten: Sourdough bread, when prepared over a long period of time contains less gluten than other breads made with wheat flour. It's been said that sourdough recipes that bulk ferment for 24 hours are virtually gluten free. Of course if you have a very high sensitivity to gluten or have celiac, don't take my word for it and definitely do your own research.

sourdough bread

Getting Started with Sourdough:

Now that we understand the basics of what sourdough is and its benefits, let's dive into how you can get started making your own sourdough bread at home!


All you have to do to make a starter is mix flour and water and let it sit at room temperature! YES It’s really that simple. Many of the websites or videos you will find about sourdough greatly overcomplicate the process.


  1. Create Your Sourdough Starter: A sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water that captures wild yeast and bacteria from the environment. Follow these steps to create your starter:

  • Mix equal parts of unbleached all purpose flour and water in a clean glass jar.

  • Cover the jar loosely with a cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature.

  • Every 24 hours, discard half of the starter and feed it with equal parts of flour and water. (You can save the discard for recipes!)

  • After several days, you should start to see bubbles forming, indicating that fermentation is occurring. Your starter is ready when it doubles in size within 4-8 hours of feeding and has a pleasant sour smell. 2. Feed and Maintain Your Starter: Once your starter is established, you'll need to feed it regularly to keep it active and healthy. To maintain your starter:

  • Keep it at room temperature if you plan to bake frequently, or store it in the refrigerator and feed it weekly if you bake less often.

  • Before using your starter in a recipe, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Feed it with equal parts of flour and water and let it sit for a few hours until it becomes active.

  • Always remember to feed it more flour than the amount of starter you have. If you are having a hard time getting the starter to double, you probably aren't feeding it enough. Try discarding most of the starter and adding substantially more flour than starter at the next feeding.

  • You can also try feeding your starter every 12 hours for a few days. If you're noticing a gray liquid on top that is called hooch and is indicating that the yeast is "hungry"

  • Many people may have heard of sourdough referred to as "friendship bread". That is because it is easy to share the sourdough love with your friends by giving them a scoop of your starter. Once established and properly maintained, sourdough can be kept indefinitely and passed down for generations. My starter is 4 years old and so robust!

  • When it doubt, keep trying. Sourdough starter can take a lot of abuse and neglect. You really don't need to throw it out unless you see very obvious mold. 3. Bake Your Sourdough Bread: Once your starter is active and bubbly, you're ready to bake your sourdough bread. Here's a simple recipe to get you started:

  • Mix flour, water, salt, and a portion of your sourdough starter in a bowl.

  • Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, then let it rise until it doubles in size.

  • Shape the dough into a loaf and let it rise again before baking in a preheated oven.

It really is that easy, you do NOT have to follow complicated recipes that requiring weighing ingredients and proofing in a climate controlled space.Your kitchen doesn't have to become a science lab, its just baking! Make it simple and have fun. If your recipe doesn't turn out, turn it into bread crumbs or croutons!


sourdough starter


Making sourdough bread at home is easy! It's become far too overcomplicated online. Remember our ancestors have been rising bread this way for centuries and they didn't have access to fancy kitchen scales and mixers. This can be a fun and delicious part of your day with many benefits to you and your family. With a bit of patience and practice, you can master the art of sourdough baking and enjoy freshly baked bread straight from your own kitchen. So, roll up your sleeves, and start your sourdough journey that's sure to fill your home with warmth and aroma. Happy baking!

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