Wild Yeast

The benefits of homemade sourdough bread bread

Homemade bread has been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years. What probably began as an accident involving a forgotten bowl of flour and water has grown into a massive industry. Wheat is one of the most grown grains on the planet, with 726.94 million metric tons produced in 2015 (usda.gov). Along with rice and maize, wheat is a staple part of the diets of 4,000 million people (fao.org). As our fast food culture has done with so many of our meals (think TV dinners, quick-cooking oats, nutrition bars or anything that can be thrown, fully packaged, into the microwave), bread has gone from a centuries-old homemade tradition to a cheap packaged commodity. Even bread that is baked at home is often produced with commercial yeast that allows for rising in a few hours. Replacing patience and effort with the impatience of convenience detracts not only the complexity of flavors drawn out of the long fermentation process, but the health benefits, too.

Recently, sourdough bread has experienced a small resurgence as bread connoisseurs, whether professional or amateur, reclaim the art of bread making. The process is a simple, but long, one. It takes about a week to cultivate a healthy sourdough starter, and then baking with it is always a more intensive task than using commercial yeast. But the work pays off. The taste, aroma, and texture of a homemade sourdough bread will assail your senses, and store-bought bread will never be the same again.

How to start your Sourdough Starter

  1. Choose a jar or other tight-lidded container for your starter to live in.
  2. Begin by mixing a whole cup of flour and half a cup of water in the jar until it forms a smooth paste.
  3. Let the mixture sit, at room temperature with the lid sitting on top, but not closed tightly.
  4. Repeat the process of mixing another cup of flour and half a cup of water into the jar.
  5. Continue this process for 5–7 days, depending on your climate and the nature of the wild yeast.
  6. You’ll know your starter is ready when it puffs up with bubbles and smells slightly sour and vinegary.

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