Digestive health is important for all of us. But for people with food allergies and intolerances, the cure to what ails us just may be found in the bacteria that lives in our digestive system. Cultured foods give that bacteria a boost, and sourdough breads are perhaps a healthier way to consume the grains many of us on gluten free diets crave.
Making sourdough might seem intimidating at first, but with a little time and care, you will end up with breads, rolls and pancakes that are gut-friendly and full of flavor.
What You Need:
- 4 to 6 cups gluten-free flour. Any GF flour will work, although it’s best if you use a mix without pre-added gums. (Xanthan gum or guar gum is common in GF flours). If you can tolerate legumes, a flour mix containing garbanzo flour adds more to the sour taste of your starter.
- Water.If using chlorinated tap water, let it sit in an open container for 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate, run it through a filter, or use bottled water. Chlorine inhibits the yeasts and bacteria growth.
- Non-metal container. A large glass or pottery container to hold 6 t o 8 cups and has a really wide opening. A cookie jar or canister works well.
Day 1: Whisk together ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of warm water together in a large jar. The more air you introduce to the mixture, the better. Air contains the bacteria and yeast you are trying to culture. Cover the jar loosely with a clean cheesecloth or thin dish towel, something allows air to circulate. Place the jar in a room-temperature location and ignore it. About 4 to 6 hours later, add ¼ cup of warm water and ¼ cup of flour, whisk it vigorously, cover, and set it aside again. Repeat again in 4 to 6 hours. It’s helpful to feed your starter several times a day when using gluten free flours.
Day 2: Feed your starter 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour once in the morning, again at mid-day and once more in the evening.
Day 3+: After several days, you should start to see small bubbles in your liquid and preferably, a risen crown on top of the liquid. If you don’t use all of your starter for one project, continue feeding what’s left over. For each feeding, I like to use an equivalent amount of flour/water mix to the starter, which keeps the bacteria and yeast happy with enough food to consume.
Long Term Storage: You can freeze or refrigerate the starter until you need to use it again. I prefer the freezer as it seems to restart better. Pull it out to defrost for about half a day and begin feeding again as in Day 2 instructions. Allow at least one or two days of feeding before using in your next recipe.
Tips: If you can tolerate baker’s yeast, add a ¼ tsp to the starter mix on Day 1. This helps inoculate the batter for a jump start, and it’s likely your starter might be ready to use at the end of Day 2. Keep in mind, however, that the sour flavor will be more developed the longer you grow the starter.
If you prefer not to use baker’s yeast, replace the water with kombucha. This also adds yeast and bacteria in larger doses than air alone, plus gives it a small amount of sugar to feed upon.