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Live Simply in the Kitchen: Why Sourdough Starter?

We’re talking about yeast – a smaller conversation of our bigger discussion on grains. You can catch up here.

Live Simply in the Kitchen: Why Sourdough Starter?    l #sourdough

Wild-caught Yeast

So with all the problems modern-day yeast creates with our bread, what is the solution? My research brings me to the conclusion that we need to go “back to the basics.” Our great-great-great grandmas probably didn’t realize what exactly they were doing when they left flour soaking in a little water over night…and what the ensuing process meant. But they were creating a healthy, artisan sourdough that would look differently each time – and would nourish the family in ways the store-bought loaves can never hope to do.

This is sourdough.Live Simply in the Kitchen: Why Sourdough Starter?    l #sourdough

When you leave flour and water in a bowl on your counter, after a period of time you’ll end up with a bowl of wild-caught yeast! There are scores of microbes in the air – and these actually vary from region to region, hence different areas becoming famous for a particular type of bread or two! These microbes are wild yeasts and (good!) bacteria and are “caught” in the flour and water.

Now, lest you think I am crazy for encouraging us to grow bacteria and eat said bacteria, one author says this of the good kind we’re talking about:

They fill our digestive system, enabling us to process the food we consume. They coat our skin, protecting us from other microbes and potentially pathogenic bacteria. The presence of bacteria in our environment is a great thing. The presence of bacteria in the bread dough is also a great thing. (source, p.87)

One of the great benefits of this process is that during the lengthy rise time required, the microbes are doing tons of work – they are feeding on the sugars found in the dough and producing acids which then break down the phytate found in the flour – up to 90%!! This process allows the nutrients to be released – and our bodies to absorb and utilize them.

So, if we continue using store-bought yeast, we miss out on the rise time during which those living microorganisms are at work eating down the phytate.

Getting Started

Now let’s make a sourdough starter! We now know why store-bought yeast is bad and why sourdough starter (wild-caught yeast) is beneficial. Are you excited to make your first real, artisan loaf?

Before you book a booth at your local farmer’s market, though, let’s gather a few supplies:

  • flour (organic whole wheat flour or some other organic flour, if possible – I buy mine locally from a health food store)
  • filtered water
  • a ceramic or glass bowl (I use these: Pyrex Prepware 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set)
  • cheesecloth or similar unbleached material (I use this: Cheesecloth)

That’s it! Pretty soon you’ll have a happy, living, breathing sourdough starter that will supply your family with healthy and nutritious bread for a long, long time!

Do you use a homemade sourdough starter?

This post linked up on Wellness Wednesday at Intoxicated on Life, Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the KitchnKop.


  1. I’m on day six….not sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. BUT, I am enjoying this learning experience.

  2. I just started one last week! It’s went way better than I thought it would. Worked out great! I just made my first loaf of bread from it this morning and some sourdough pancakes. Best bread I’ve ever had…I had no idea sourdough tasted so good. I also had way more success with making sourdough than any other types I’ve tried making from scratch. It’s also been really cool seeing the starter develop and knowing what’s happening.

  3. We’ve been using sourdough for a few months now and I finally feel like I “get” it. I love how it can be less exact than other types of bread. Is it bubbling? Does it make your loaf rise? Then you did it “right.” πŸ™‚ My FAVE recipe though is the sourdough chocolate cake from the Whole Intentions Healing Candida With Food cookbook. Oh goodness. It is wonderful! The sourdough starter leaves it nice and moist. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for linking up to Wellness Wednesday!

  4. I know this is a little late to the convo, but I’m just finding your page πŸ™‚ I like what I see! Yours is the first blog i’ve been able to find an actual recipe for starter. However, I’m still not clear on proportions. Do i use 1:1 flour and water? also, you mention in another post that i can keep it alive by continuing to add more flour/water to the bowl aas time passes to feed it. Will I also add the same 1:1 addition? Can i put it in the fridge only after it’s started to bubble the first time? and finally (lol I truly am sorry to ask so many questions in comments like this but i can’t seem to find the info – sorry!) what is the minimum process time to let it sit before using it?

    • Hey there!
      I’m so glad it was helpful!! Did you see the post on how to make a starter ( I think some of your questions are answered there (let me know if not, though!).

      Once you have starter (bubbles), you can start baking with it. You can leave the starter on the counter if you bake several times a week. Otherwise your starter will grow to massive proportions from so many feedings – and you can just stick in the fridge till you need it.

      And I believe you should see bubbles and be ready to begin using your starter within 3-5 days. That help? πŸ™‚

      • OmGoodness!! I just want to thank you for being so patient with me. I feel like such a numb-skull. I was reading your instructions for how to make a starter and clicked on the “what you need” link and FORGOT to go back to the instructions. I am so embarrassed! LOL
        I just have to say thank you once again. Yes, you have absolutely answered my questions here and on the instructions page. πŸ™‚ so needless to say you have won me over – new follower here!!


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