Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Sourdough?

You probably know by now that I'm slightly addicted to baking bread. I love shaping warm dough in my hands, pulling a crusty loaf out of the oven, and biting into a chewy slice. Over the years, I've gathered favorite recipes from my mom, friends, and various cookbooks.  Whether I was looking for a dinner roll, bagel or whole wheat loaf, I usually had a good recipe.

Why then, if I could make a decent bread, did I choose to make sourdough? There are numerous reasons stated but here is a few.

  • Since no yeast is needed, sourdough is cheap. A basic loaf needs nothing but flour, water and salt.
  • How can anyone read the "Little House" books and not want to be Ma with her pot of sourdough bubbling on the back of the stove. From the cowboy cooks in the chuck wagons to the forty-niners with their precious sourdough amongst their prospecting tools, sourdough has a wide history that enthralled me as a child.
  • By some reports, sourdough is a healthier way to eat grains. It is certainly the traditional form that civilizations used for centuries to prepare bread. Some people find sourdough  easier to digest than typical whole grain bread. Others say that sourdough bread allows the nutrients in the flour to be better assimilated. If you've read Nourishing Traditions you've heard of the benefits of soaking grains. I haven't had much success with soaking flour. I can make edible bread but not wonderful. I've had better success with sourdough which apparently has the same benefits. When going to the bother of making homemade bread from freshly ground flour, getting the maximum benefit just made sense. There is much written online about the benefits of sourdough, here is one article.
  • I was surprised at how quickly we preferred the sourdough flavor. Typical yeast bread tasted bland in comparison. Even if it wasn't cheaper or healthier, the flavor would have encouraged me to continue my quest for perfect sourdough bread.  
  • Sourdough is just plain fun. Okay, now you know I'm off my rocker. Maybe a mom cooped in a house with four littles comes up with weird ideas of entertainment! But I've read of bakers with years of experience in baking and in very different stages of life then I, and they appear to get a kick out of watching flour and water turn into a bubbling growing pot of sourdough, too. So I think I have company in saying that sourdough baking is simply enjoyable!

Probably the history of sourdough bread first caught my interest. The health benefits propelled me to give it a try. But the flavor is what has kept me baking sourdough. When my husband walks out to the kitchen in the morning, takes a deep breath and sighs in anticipation for his sourdough waffles, I know I have something good going!

If you make sourdough bread, I'd love to hear what got you started and why you continue!


  1. I too heard the tales of the sourdough goldrush miners and it made me curious. I think the first story that intrigued me as a child was about an abandoned shack in the wilderness, where someone found a ball of starter, hard as nails, fallen behind a counter. They dusted it off, it was nurtured back to life and they continued to make sourdough from it. It sounded disgusting and wonderful! More recently I have also heard the many studies about the health and nutritional benefits from eating sourdough breads. And also now I thrill to the idea of living in a symbiotic relationship with an unseen world of life.

    But it still requires a sort of child-like frame of mind, to keep these starters alive, almost like a pet. I smile when I hear that many sourdough bakers have "named" their starters. I have not named mine yet. I wonder what names others have given theirs?

  2. My best friend swears by sourdough. Her husband is diabetic and sourdough bread does not make his sugar go up like yeast bread does!

  3. I love sourdough but it's been awhile since I made any. I think the smell of baking sourdough is wonderful and the flavor can't be beat. Nothing better than a salad and a nice, chewy, crusty piece of sourdough to top it off!

  4. Enjoying the sourdough posts. I love to bake bread but haven't attempted sourdough yet. I'm eager to see your recipe.

  5. I'm looking forward to learning to make sourdough! Can't wait to get started!

  6. I had made a sourdough starter a while back and found that the pancake and pizza dough it made was absolutely wonderful. I don't think I actually got the hang of it with an actual loaf of bread. I would love to see you post a recipe and some tips on baking with sourdough!

  7. I too LOVE all the history behind sour dough and all the benefits as well. However, I have yet to get a starter, and I would love a whole wheat starter as well as regular too.
    Where did you get your starter?
    Sourdough is something I have wanted to do for years but haven't found a good starter yet! Thanks for all your post on sourdough! Where did you find all your sourdough recipes?

  8. What got me started was curiosity and the love of a kitchen project/challenge. Then, my recipe was SO EASY and flexible compared to yeast bread, that now it is our daily bread and we love it.

    1. You should share your recipe, Margo! :)

  9. I've been baking my own bread for years now, but have only recently started getting really interested in traditional techniques and ways of eating. We buy eggs from a lady down the street, raw milk from the co-op and are part of a product CSA now. I can't wait to add sour dough to my list! I already keep a started in my refrigerator, just for convenience and added flavor to my weekly baking, so this is the next step for me! Thank you for doing this series and making it so easy. I'm glad I found it after it's already so full of information!

  10. I was online searching for a white flour sourdough recipe and found your blog! I have Ulcerative Colitis and know from research that this is way better for me digestive wise. Love your blog and the bread! My homemade starter is ready and I'm so excited to turn out my first loaf...and so is my husband to gobble it up!

  11. Can you use gluten free with sourdough?

  12. Hey,I am just getting started with sourdough! Your blog has helped a lot.Today I made my first from scratch sourdough whole wheat bread.IT is husband n children love it too!! This is so exciting.


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