Gluten Free Sourdough Starter & Sourdough in General: Baking Healing Foods for Your Gut
Why This Journey into Sourdough?
As a pediatrician and having been someone that knows firsthand how important health is, and what it feels like to go through a personal illness, I have really increased my knowledge base, and the will to learn new skills, that provide myself and family with healthy, and nourishing foods.
In this way, we can avoid the triggers that make us feel ill, save money by starting from the ground up with wholesome ingredients for our meals, and teach others to do the same along the way. With that being said, I have learned not only how to make homemade gut nourishing yogurt, but I have also learned how to make a Gluten-Free bubbly and active, gut welcoming Sourdough Starter.
What is exciting, about this, is that, I can literally pass this starter on down to my children, and they can do the same for several generations to come, as your sourdough starter, is a community of living organisms, including beneficial yeast, and bacteria, that help to produce a balance of activity, that not only give your bread, pastries, cookies, muffins, pizza crusts, and more a delightful lift, but also the delicious flavor, that sourdough connoisseurs, really appreciate.
Why Use Sourdough?
Sourdough comes from a process that allows for the fermentation of your grains, into a more digestible product. It has been used for thousands of years through ancient times. Some yeast has even been found in Egypt, revived, and used again to bake sourdough bread.
Through the process of fermentation, phytic acid, and gluten, is broken down, to a more usable form, making it easier to digest, and less likely to trigger stomach discomfort if there is sensitivity. Those however, that have Celiac disease, and just cannot tolerate gluten, due to potential severe consequences, must avoid gluten, and the fermentation process, is not enough for them to be able to digest these baked goods, as far as science understands. Because gluten, even in small amounts, can damage their gut, leading to multiple other issues. So for those with Celiac disease, the next best option, would be to find a gluten free sourdough that they can enjoy.
Whether, you are avoiding gluten, you have gluten intolerance, sensitivity, or you are working on an elimination diet, to better your health, I hope this recipe and guide will be a blessing to you.
As always, if you have any specific medical questions, always consult a trusted medical provider, before trying anything new, so they can help to guide you.
Let me show you what I did step by step to make this Gluten-Free Sourdough. I like to do things as simply, as I can, so I did not use a baking scale, as others may do. Honestly, approximation, did the job just fine, and I think this was the case as well, for many of our ancestors thousands of years ago, who did not have modern baking scales. Let's keep it simple, so that this can be a lifelong practice that we can enjoy doing in multiple ways.
Mason Jar of Your Choice: I started out with a pint and went all the way up to 1/2 Gallon.
Grain Mill if you want freshly milled Flour, or Use the Gluten-Free Flour of your choice
Gluten Free Grains of Your Choice: ie. I used Millet, but you can also try Sorghum, Teff, or Buckwheat
-Add 1/2 Cup Freshly Milled Millet Flour to Your Jar, + 1/2 Cup Water: Mix well and scrape down sides of jar.
Cover top with a lid loosely, and let sit in a warm spot: (Ideal temperature is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit)
-Feed and provide water to starter every 12 hours.
(I started to notice activity quickly at 12 hours, but varying conditions, can provide different results, so be patient with it, and see it through. At 12 hours I started to also smell a sweet yeast fragrance, while as the days progressed, in my second starter, (I made 2 for a backup), there was a sourer smell, than its counterpart.
I purposefully let my starter rest when I observed my Sabbath on Saturday, to see if this would affect the outcomes, and what I discovered in one of them was a good buildup of "Hooch". Hooch is the liquid alcohol layer that you may find on the top of your starter, after it has gone through a "hungry" period, from the waste product of the yeast after it has run out of food. This is ok, just feed as soon as you can. After refeeding my starter, it had jumped back to life, and it was even more active than before. Keep pressing through, unless you are seeing mold, or the smell is very off-putting. If so, then discard, as it is better to be safe than sorry, especially in the beginning as you establish your starter, and it has not yet been strengthened enough to fend off unwanted bacteria.
You may notice in the first several days that your starter is requiring more flour to be satisfied, that is, you will see some "hooch" forming, and it may look more liquid, before it's due for a feeding. So, feel free to adjust the amount of flour you are using, but be consistent with it, if you make a change.
I started with a 1/2 cup of flour, then 1+1/2, and ended up with 2 cups of flour being used to feed each time, as well as small changes in the water added so that I could incorporate the mixture well.
Discard half of your starter, before feeding and providing water. Then do the same as you have been doing on days 1-3 every 12 hours.
At this point, do not use the discard to bake, because it is still immature, and you are still trying to provide the proper balance of good bacteria and yeast to make your baked goods. You can place your discard in the compost, during these days, to help nourish your soil.
After 7 days, you can start using your starter, for delicious food, your family will enjoy.
Caring For your Starter:
If you want to use your starter daily, you can leave it out on the counter, but you will need to discard, and feed it daily/regularly. Every 12 hours is a good routine for Gluten-Free starters.
If however, you want to just use it a few times per week, or less, you can place it in the fridge, and feed and discard yours, at least every 3 to 4 days. Gluten free starters, tend to need a little more feeding, so monitor yours and see what the needs are. When ready to bake, you can remove the amount you need, and then feed the remaining amount in the fridge. This is also a good practice to do, in order to make a "levain" in advance of your baking, which is a "pre-fermented" mixture of your starter, with flour and water, that has been allowed to ferment for several hours prior to you being ready to do your baking. This allows for an additional process of fermentation, and a flavor profile, to your baked goods, that would not come about otherwise.
What's interesting, is that every starter is different, and your climate, temperature, altitude, and location, all play a role in your final product.
These steps may seem tedious, but they are easy once you get into the swing of things, and all the more important, you will have gained a lifelong nutritional gem, that you can use over and over again, never having to buy yeast again, or other leavening agents, not to mention the nutrition you will receive.
I hope you will enjoy many days of having delicious sourdough recipes.
Let me know if you have tried it, and how it is doing for you.
I would enjoy hearing how others are doing with theirs too! Please share this as well with others!
You can watch my video, where I take you step by step into this process, and you can see firsthand how I cared for my own starter.
Many Blessings to you, and your family,
Dr. Monique Adu