Sourdough Part 2: Our Journey & Benefits

How we got started

As you may know, Elyse is Chinese and we met while I was living in China for 10 years. Bread is not very common in China, so everything was learned started a few years ago when we came to the U.S. If we can do it… you can do it!

At first we bought good, usually organic, whole grain bread. 

We then realized that we could make our own fresh bread and control what is in it. I didn’t think too much about if this was cheaper or not (though I believe it is), but it got us going on making bread.

We started with a bread machine and carefully followed the directions. (I should clarify. “I” carefully followed the directions. Elyse is better at understanding the principles and creating her own wonderful edibles.)

Bread Machine…
our start with homemade bread

After burning through several bread machines, we decided to buy a stand mixer instead. It’s less automatic, but gives more flexibility and various uses. We still used modern recipes with store bought yeast, etc.

The idea for sourdough came as Elyse was looking into how to promote better digestion and gut health. She wanted to get this started, but with the many other pulls and tugs of life it didn’t get started. (Though we did start Kombucha and Sauerkraut during that time.)

The kick to get our sourdough started came from my oldest son. He saw the idea (aka: science experiment) of growing our own yeast, and working towards making bread dough with just water and flour. We homeschool our children, which means that there is room to explore and learn with what is right in front of us. He and my wife got this started and he was in charge of his sourdough. 

Elyse was doing it along with him, and when the experiment was pretty much over for Elijah’s purposes, Elyse hated to let it die… so kept it going. (As a note: I am basically the reporter on all this. Elyse is the woman in the know, who started truly from scratch and now has a very mature starter.)

Those first weeks getting started were pretty intense. They were starting it in the winter (which we later learned is the hardest time to start sourdough since the cold makes it want to stop growing, but it isn’t yet mature enough to let it do so without having problems (mold, etc.). Elyse was often feeding “Bubbles” twice a day and hand mixing it throughout the day. The nice perk of this was that she hated to waste the extra starter that was formed during this time, so we had a LOT of bread and she got really creative with using it. Yummy! :o)

We keep our house at around 60 in the winter so my two bread scientists found a nice spot next to a heater to keep their dough to attempt to keep it warm.

In the end, and even during the toughest season to get it started, they did it and we now have a very mature starter that we are able to use and pass along (and is able to be used in the winter with no problems).

Benefits of Sourdough

Many people, myself included until recently, will think that “bread is bread”, or, even if they know that white bread is basically “dead bread”, they may think that all whole grain breads without high fructose corn syrup, etc. are basically the same. That described me… but it isn’t true.

In short, we can say that the benefit of Sourdough bread is that it has life! It’s aliiiiive!!!!

No really, it’s alive. It is full of good microbes, good bacteria. It has been fermenting and developing whole colonies and cultures of tiny soldiers that you cannot see, but work powerfully for your benefit. (If you find this to be somewhat revolting, just know that you are eating bacteria all the time, including in fermented foods (sauerkraut, Kombucha, yogurt, vinegar, real cheese, cultured butter, cultured chocolate, etc.). Sourdough, and the other foods just mentioned, just help you to have the good bacteria, etc. to fight against the ones that give bacteria a bad name.

For this reason, in addition to giving you great health benefits, sourdough is mold resistant (that army is ready to fight!). It can be stored for a while, left out in the room without refrigeration, etc.

It can also often be eaten by those who can’t eat other breads. Those little microbes are basically predigesting the bread (my rough description), so it is much easier for your digestion and can help your digestion. Again, thank that invisible, powerful army.

Since 57% of the human body is something other than human, you can imagine the power that adding this mighty invisible army has for your overall health. Many health issues can be prevented and helped by introducing more good bacteria into your body. (I’ll leave it to others to go into details on this point.)

Photo Credits: We rarely think to take pictures, so these are random pictures of our regular baking, likely taken by our children for fun. :o)

Continue with “Sourdough Part 3: Starting & Feeding“.

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