Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sourdough Bread and Soaking Grains

In my post about antinutrients, I passed along Sally Fallon's recommendation of soaking legumes and grains overnight in an acidulated medium, but I didn't say why. The
'why' is very important, whether making sourdough bread, beans, or soaking milled whole grain flour overnight for pancakes.

An acidulated soaking medium such as buttermilk, raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water, kefir, yogurt or whey contains enzymes and beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus. (The skin on your arms holds enough friendly bacteria to make a sourdough starter!) As the bacteria break down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors in either whole grains or milled flour, they also multiply, thus increasing the beneficial enzymes and vitamins produced by their activity.

Just last week I read about a zillion pages on the internet about making bread. I have made bread many times (usually the basic recipe from the Tassajara Monastery in California), but would never call myself anything but a novice, thus all the recent reading.

However, combining what I have learned about soaking grains with the many bread baking sites I've read and bookmarked, I have thus far concluded that if I am to learn to make the nutritionally best everyday bread for myself, it needs to be a long-ferment sourdough.

When I return from my current trip to UVa on Wednesday, I intend to begin my own starter, or maybe 2, with one being helped by some very old starter from a friend. It will not be a quick project, as I understand starters change and get better with age. I do not plan to use any added yeast, either... just sourdough.

Bread won't happen for a while, and I expect I'll be looking at a long string of failures as I learn. I will no doubt buy some packaged sourdough starters along the way, just to have somewhat edible bread, and to see what different tastes develop with other starters and other grains.
I will probably make the occasional yeasted bread too, just for variety.

I'm taking my camera to the shop on my trip. The battery will not charge and I'm hoping it is just the lithium battery and not the charger. I need it to take pictures during my bread project, including the failures.

By the way, several bread blogs I read mentioned Sally Fallon's buttermilk soaking of the milled wheat flour. Most said it was a heavier, more dense bread that they preferred, but switching to raw apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice produced a more satisfactory product. Either way, you should read the book. Your local library probably has a copy.

1 comment:

  1. Try adding a little sprouted wheat flour to your bread dough while you're at it (about 1 T per loaf, or 3 cups of flour)! The yeast beasts love it instead of sugar, it's healthier, more nutritious, and helps the texture and shelf life of the bread!


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