Ever since I started eating grain free, and then simply gluten free over 12 years ago, I have been on the quest for bread like options, since especially back then the options were severely limited! And even if you found some bread you liked, it was difficult to bake bread on your own, and I loved baking bread....from the kneading to the rising to the shaping, and it was a part I seriously missed. I still enjoy theorizing on the best ways to make gluten free bread.
During this whole process, I was turned on to sourdough bread, not even for it's flavor (which is nothing short of fantastic) but because of the health benefits I knew to exist as a cultured and fermented food. I wanted to if a sensitive belly, IBS intestines and intestinal diseases fared with this fermented bread. I wasn't disappointed. What I heard going around was that people that reacted badly to regular bread did NOT with sourdough bread, even those produced with wheat!! Mine are gluten free, so double bonus!
Whether you have intestinal upset to worry about or not, sourdough bread is worth a look. With the naturally occurring probiotics produced during culturing, intestines have a more balanced gut flora. It can balance the acidity of the body, encourage enzyme action, stave off diabetes, and absorb and digest minerals better.
A sourdough starter can be used to make muffins, pancakes, waffles, cupcakes, bread, pizza crust, biscuits, you name it!
I can't say it any better than how Vanessa of www.sourdoughschool.com sums it up, so here is her response to health benefits of sourdough:
So why is sourdough healthier than regular bread?
One of the most commonly asked questions I get asked is why can I digest Sourdough bread, but not ordinary commercial bread? There are many reasons, and the answer for each person is different.
However research, often linked with IBS, indicates that the principal storage of phosphorus in seeds is found in the bran part of wheat and is called phytic acid can be a cause for digestive discomfort and bloating. In humans, and animals with one stomach, this phytic acid inhibits enzymes which are needed for the breakdown of proteins and starch in the stomach. It is this lack of enzymes which results in digestive difficulties. Ironically, commercially produced whole grain bread, generally perceived as “healthy,” is often the worst thing a person with a wheat intolerance should eat.
Luckily we have an ally, sourdough. The wild yeast and lactobacillus in the leaven neutralise the phytic acid as the bread proves through the acidification of the dough. This prevents the effects of the phytic acid and makes the bread easier for us to digest. These phytic acid molecules bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, which make these important nutrients unavailable to us. Long slow fermentation of wheat can reduce phytates by up to 90%. There is an interesting study that compares the effects of different leavens (yeast, sourdough, and a mixture of both) on phytic acid degradation which assessed the repercussions of phytic acid breakdown on phosphorus and magnesium solubility during bread-making, that showed Sourdough fermentation was much more efficient than yeast fermentation in reducing the phytate content in whole wheat bread (-62 and -38%, respectively). The lactic acid bacteria present in sourdough enhanced acidification, which lead to increased magnesium and phosphorus solubility.
Simply put the phytase enzymes released by the yeasts as the dough acidifies effectively pre-digests the flour, which releases the micronutrients and in turn reduces bloating and digestive discomfort.
In the coming weeks, I will be posting a gluten free sourdough starter recipe, and multiple sourdough recipes. In the meantime, find a nice fitted glass jar to keep your starter in. I recommend a half gallon size as you need room for mixing, fermentation and expansion.
Talk to you soon!