5 Reasons To Make Sourdough Your Only Bread

5 Reasons To Make Sourdough Your Only Bread post image

I’ll never forget the first time I ate sourdough bread in, of all places, San Francisco. My dear friend Sue and I were college grads on a cross country adventure. We found ourselves across the bay, in Sausalito, enjoying the shops and streets filled with people on a brilliant summer day. Strolling along, we passed a bakery emanating the siren smells of fresh baked bread. It beckoned us in. We purchased a huge loaf of the famous San Francisco sourdough. Once started, we couldn’t stop eating that amazing bread — had to cancel dinner plans as we were stuffed with sourdough! Since then, it’s been an unrequited love affair (because I’m mainly grain-free) between sourdough and I.

Originating in Ancient Egypt around 1500 BC, sourdough was probably the first form of leavening available. Sourdough remained the usual form of leavening into the European Middle Ages. Later on it was replaced by barm from the beer brewing process, and then purpose-cultured yeast.

Sourdough leavening is a traditional preparation of grains

Bread made from 100 percent rye flour, which is very popular in the northern half of Europe, is usually leavened with sourdough. We actually know that the people in the isolated Lötschental Valley in Switzerland, who were studied by Dr. Price, made huge loaves of sourdough rye that went through a two week fermentation process.

The fermentation process removes phytates and enzyme inhibitors

Sourdough is a dough containing a Lactobacillus culture, usually in symbiotic combination with yeasts. However, the lactobacillus is much greater in proportion to the yeast.  In comparison with yeast-based breads, sourdough produces a distinctively tangy or sour taste, mainly because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.

Ancestral Pre-Ferment

The actual medium, known as starter or levain, is in essence an ancestral form of pre-ferment. It is not uncommon for a baker’s starter dough to have years of history, from many hundreds of previous generations. Sourdough was the main bread made in Northern California during the California Gold Rush. The bread was so common that sourdough became a general nickname for the gold prospectors.

Sourdough fermentation was carried into Alaska and the western Canadian territories during the Klondike Gold Rush. Conventional leavenings such as yeast and baking soda were not reliable in the conditions faced by the prospectors. Miners and other settlers carried a pouch of starter either around their neck or on a belt in order to protect the cultures from freezing.

5 Benefits to Sourdough Preparation

1- Increases beneficial lactic acid

The longer rise time needed for sourdough increases the lactic acid and creates an ideal pH for the enzyme phytase. This enzyme breaks down phytates (read more about the dangers of phytic acid here) more effectively than in yeast breads. Sourdough rye has the least amount of phytates (somehow the Swiss culture mentioned above must have known this) making it a healthier bread.

2- Predigestion of starches

The bacteria and yeast in the sourdough culture work to predigest the starches in the grains, thus making it more easily digestible to the consumer.

3- Breakdown of gluten

Here again, the longer soaking and rising times in the preparation of sourdough breaks the protein gluten into amino acids, making it more digestible.

4- Preservative

The acetic acid which is produced along with lactic acid, helps preserve the bread by inhibiting the growth of mold.

5- Better blood glucose regulation

There has been some research suggesting that sourdough bread — sourdough white bread — showed positive physiological responses. The subjects’ blood glucose levels were lower after eating sourdough white bread compared to whole wheat, whole wheat with barley and plain white bread. Interestingly, the subjects tested after eating whole wheat bread fared the worse — with spiking blood glucose levels.

Additionally, the researchers found that the positive response lasted through the next meal and for several hours after that. They concluded that what you have for breakfast will influence how the body responds to the next meal.

This is all well and good, but the most pressing reason is the TASTE! That tangy, slightly sour taste is awesome! If you eat grains, make sourdough your primary source of grains.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s guest post by an expert GLUTEN-FREE sour dough bread maker and author, Sharon Kane. Her gluten-free sourdough breads are to die for!

Where to buy GLUTEN-FREE sourdough starters and kits!

Where to buy wheat sourdough starters

If you just can’t tolerate grains of any kind you may want to check out my online class: Go Grain Free!

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Leave a Comment

  • Alex January 17, 2012, 11:07 pm

    I’m really looking forward to your next post with the expert sourdough maker! Ive been grain free (except for white rice) for about a year now. I don’t really crave bread, but if sourdough can be made gluten free with minimal phytic acid, I may have to give it a shot!

  • Heather January 18, 2012, 7:43 am

    Right now we buy our sourdough bread – I tried a starter, but I failed miserably and after 2 attempts I gave up! I really want to try again…but I’m nervous about it working! My loaves came out as really heavy paperweights. The sour taste was good, but it was so incredibly dense that my husband wouldn’t eat it and I had a hard time cutting through it. 🙁

    • Judith November 25, 2014, 12:45 pm

      That’s when you cut it into small squares (even toast it a bit if you wish) and add it to an Italian Caprese style bread salad so it can absorb the lovely veggie juices.

  • karen January 18, 2012, 11:23 am

    I have been limiting my grains for about 1 1/2 years now and lately have been really missing bread. I do buy sprouted grain bread, but it is not like the fresh baked whole wheat bread I used to make for my family. I want to be able to make bread again, but gave up on sprouted grain bread after many failures. I have tried twice now to make sourdough bread with rye and spelt, but that too hasn’t worked. I would love any recipes or suggestions to help me meet success with sourdough. I will be paying close attention to your next post. My starter has worked great for waffles and biscuits so I know I’m close. Thanks for providing so much great information and encouragement.

    • Jill January 18, 2012, 12:32 pm

      Hi Karen,
      I think you’ll find the next post (and giveaway) interesting!

  • France @ Beyond The Peel January 18, 2012, 12:08 pm

    HI Jill, Great post. Packed with great info. I look forward to the bread post tomorrow!

  • Lori @ Laurel of Leaves January 18, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Such great information! I looooove the way sourdough tastes and I’m so excited to see all these other great benefits as well. Thanks!

  • Debbie January 18, 2012, 1:08 pm

    GReat post Jill, anxious for tomorrows GF sourdough! 🙂

  • Jeremy Zawodny January 18, 2012, 5:48 pm

    Thanks for the sourdough info. I’m interested in seeing what’s on deck tomorrow too. It’s hard to imagine (after everything I’ve read) NOT going gluten-free.

  • nicolette @ momnivores dilemma January 18, 2012, 9:14 pm

    I was just going to ask for a good batch of gluten-free sourdough recipes. The GF breads I’ve been buying have been tasting rather chemical-like to me lately, so I can’t wait to see your guest post tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing at Creative Juice, Jill. I will have some more food oriented posts for your next party…

    • Jill January 18, 2012, 9:43 pm

      Hi Nicolette,
      I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you read tomorrow’s post! And come back the next day for the giveaway!

  • Kate January 19, 2012, 9:55 am

    We’ve been making only sourdough for awhile, simply because we love the taste. This is a great post, to learn more about the science and health benefits. Thank you!

  • Vicky January 19, 2012, 10:21 am

    We live in the Bay Area and love our Sour Dough. Thanks for the informative post! I am a new FB fan visiting from Creative Juice Thursday. Vicky from Mess For Less

  • Yissell January 19, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I’m very new to this and never care for sourdough before. Anyone from Bay Area, please where can I get a GOOD sourdough to start with? What brands? Thanks everyone!

  • Tiffany A. January 19, 2012, 5:35 pm

    I just baked my first successful loaf of whole grain (freshly milled) sourdough bread (with my homemade starter) yesterday. To those of you facing difficulty, it is possible! Don’t give up! It definitely takes some trial and error, research and time to get to really know your starter and dough, but it is totally doable; I’m proof!

    • Jill January 19, 2012, 6:51 pm

      Hi Tiffany,
      Thanks for sharing!

  • Lorayne January 19, 2012, 5:59 pm

    I have been Gluten and Wheat (and dairy) free for about two years now … I REALLY miss rye and sourdough. Looking forward to the next post!

  • Susan@ Cooking in the Florida Heat January 20, 2012, 10:54 am

    Love sour dough bread! My starter is alive and well at a little over a year old. Yummmm!!

  • Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable January 20, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Jill! I will be posting this on the wall of my fb page!

  • Melissa January 20, 2012, 12:57 pm

    I love sour dough bread too…but I can’t seem to make it. Either I forget to feed the starter properly or somehow mess it up. When I did bake a loaf I ended up with the lead weight some one else mentioned.

  • Heidi January 20, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Wahooooooey! I am excited to try gluten-free sourdough, because I have basically otherwise given up wheat, after years of grinding my own and making great breads. I realize I can lose weight, but the MINUTE I start eating wheat again, I gain weight back. Hoping a gluten-free alternative will allow me to love breads again–and they’ll love me back!

  • Eat Outside the Bag January 20, 2012, 1:28 pm

    We too eat only sourdough here and have for many years. We also try to limit the amount of bread we eat even though it is sourdough rye. And as always, it has to be slathered with copious amounts of raw milk butter!

    Sourdough bread does have a bit of a learning curve, but once you figure out that it takes more time you’ll be cranking out the most wonderful artisan loaves with ease.

    Will definitely be passing along this link to my readers!

  • Miz Helen January 20, 2012, 4:15 pm

    As a long time sour dough lover, I really enjoyed your post. That is beautiful bread and great information. Hope you have a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Shannon January 20, 2012, 5:39 pm

    You also forgot surprise #6 reason, it’s really good! I love the flavor of sourdough bread. ;o)

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on Momtrends.com!

  • Jo @ Jo's Health Corner January 21, 2012, 4:14 am

    I remember the first time I ate sourdough bread in San Francisco. I couldn’t stop eating it..My mother packed her whole suitcase with loaves of bread and brought back home to Sweden. The Swedish custom was quite surprised to see a suitcase full of bread, most Swedes bring home technology, cosmetics, or clothes from the US.

    I miss the European sourdough bread though, living in Sweden and Germany, the only bread I ate was sourdough bread..

  • Jenn January 23, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Great post! I love sourdough bread, but I have a hard time keeping my sourdough alive. I probably just need to make it every day… LOL

  • Millie January 23, 2012, 1:47 pm

    Excellent summary on the benefits. We’ve been making sourdough for a couple of years and are super happy with it. My 16 year old is the best at making our loaves. She gets them very light and fluffy. Mine always turn out way more ‘rustic’ than hers 🙂

  • gloria January 24, 2012, 10:34 am

    This bread look amazing and I love make bread!!!

  • Alea Milham January 24, 2012, 11:11 am

    After being diagnosed with celiac’s, I was able to look back and see a pattern of wheat products making me sick. The one exception was sour dough bread. I read a study a couple of years back about how the gluten proteins are broken down in sour dough bread and it made perfect sense. Thanks for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul Hop.

    • Ann August 13, 2015, 6:46 am

      Hi Alea, do you have to be careful which flour you use or does the process sourdough process take care of that? Can I use unbleached white King Arthur Flour and will it be ok?

  • Susan with Permanent Posies January 24, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Do you know of any sourdough brand that has risen long enough to kill the gluten? Or any restaurants that serve it? That is really good news. We are still kind of new at this.

  • Raj @ Flip Cookbook January 27, 2012, 1:28 am

    Very interesting! This explains why sourdough used to be my favorite bread when I ate gluten.. really interested in trying out the gluten free version you’ve linked.

    Thanks for sharing this at Sugar Free Sunday!

  • Just Winging It January 28, 2012, 1:02 pm

    I do like making bread, but never tried sourdough. I would love it if you shared this here:


  • Jessica February 2, 2012, 6:15 pm

    I love sourdough! I made a homemade starter last summer that just took off and did so well…then I neglected it. When I tried to make another this winter (figuring it must always be very easy as was my experience from the summer) I was so disappointed to find that I just couldn’t get a good rise from it! 🙁

    It may be the temperature so I will try again in the spring. Looking forward to REAL sourdough again!

  • mark January 27, 2013, 2:41 am

    I have been making bread for over 30 years and never could make sourdough bread until I tried The Bread For Life Sourdough Starter. It’s amazing. It’s the easiest dough that I have ever worked with.

  • Serena July 13, 2013, 4:57 am

    This is such a great article! Thank you!!! I love sourdough! I dedicated a whole section on my blog to it and I have many recipes by now.
    Bread is much more digestible and nice!!!

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  • Judith November 25, 2014, 12:57 pm

    I gave up wheat breads after reading Dr. Davis’ book”Wheat Belly”. Lost 25 lbs slowly without effort and my A1c (diabetic measurement of control) dropped/improved by .6 points within 3 weeks.

    Now I eat ONLY sourdough and have absolutely NO diabetic problems with it at all. Not only does it NOT develop fungus/mold easily and secretly to interfere with health but it doesn’t rock my blood sugars at all. The healthy probiotics in it change the starch to a sort of “resistant” starch that doesn’t kick the blood sugar. Better for your liver. A lot of diabetics don’t realize their liver, as the central metabolic organ in the body, should NOT be overloaded/overworked with unnecessary carbs — it gets tired and then the old blood sugar goes up. Sour dough doesn’t overload the liver and is healthier to eat all the time.

  • Sara May 4, 2015, 9:23 pm

    I love sourdough, too (http://www.carobcherub.com/why-love-sourdough/)!
    But I heard from my husband who lived in San Fran that the famous sourdough bread isn’t actually sourdough, it’s just soured with additives (i.e. citric acid or the like).
    Our bread never goes moldy (we eat it too quickly) but it doesn’t preserve well. Does that happen to yours, too?

  • Sunsun September 3, 2015, 1:08 am

    What is meant by the soaking? Can you still get gluten break down using store bought flour? If so how? Yhanks

  • jeff benning January 4, 2016, 5:41 pm

    Beautiful article on 5 reasons to ONLY CONSUME SOURDOUGH. I starter this year and never looked back.

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