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    Gluten-free Sourdough Starter


    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac.com 12/27/2012 - Making sourdough 'starter' is the first step in the traditional fermentation process for sourdough bread. You begin the process by “growing” strains of lactobacillus bacteria and yeast together in what bakers call the 'starter.' When the 'starter' is added to flour, the organisms produce enzymes that break down the gluten protein in the flour in a process called 'hydrolysis.' Hydrolysis is the breakdown of larger particles into smaller ones, specifically amino acids.


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    Fermenting sourdough starter. Photo: CC--Nicola Since 1972Some studies show that these amino acids are no longer toxic to individuals who are sensitive to gluten. Basically, these cultures partially digest the wheat or other grains; doing part of the stomach's job in advance part of the digestive process.

    When you add the gut healing benefits of lactobacillus, the result is bread that acts like medicine; delicious medicine, at that.

    Using sourdough starter to bake breads using gluten-free grains is an excellent way for people with celiac disease and gluten-intolerance to get the benefits of sourdough cultures and to enjoy delicious fresh bread.

    Here's a recipe for gluten-free sourdough starter that you can use to bake countless loaves of delicious gluten-free bread:

    Gluten-free Sourdough Starter

    Ingredients:
    1 cup water, 110 to 115 deg F
    2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 1/2 cups rice flour 

    Directions:
    Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart container. It will be thick.

    Cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil and let stand for one to three days in a warm place, stirring 2 or 3 times daily.

    The starter will rise and fall during the fermentation process.When it is ready to use, it will be bubbly and may have a layer of hooch, or liquid, on top of the starter, which can be stirred back in.

    Use the starter right away, or put it in refrigerator.

    You can easily replenish your starter by keeping at least one cup of finished aside. Add 1 cup water and 1 1/2 cup white rice flour. Cover loosely and let stand in a warm place for 12 hours, stirring once or twice. Use what you need, and refrigerate the rest. Replenish as needed.


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    Guest Roxanne

    Posted

    Love sourdough! Are you staying neutral on sourdough with gluten bread being okay for celiacs? You mention it, but don't give your opinion. Scares me, frankly.

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    Guest Janet Davis

    Posted

    I am so thankful to have the starter. Now, do you have the recipe to bake the bread?

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    I am so thankful to have the starter. Now, do you have the recipe to bake the bread?

    My question too... where is the recipe for the bread?

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    Ditto - where is the recipe for the bread?

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    Guest JulieM

    Posted

    Thanks for the starter recipe. I've used the one at the Art of Gluten Free Baking website and had great luck with it. I'm not being allowed to post a link to it, but if you google that site and "sourdough bread starter" you'll find the starter recipe and the link to the recipe for the bread itself. I've made it perhaps a dozen times and it's very good. A little trouble getting it 100% done in the middle of the loaf, but i'm thinking a little tinkering will figure it out. perhaps just baking a little longer.

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    Since sourdough starters are known to break down gluten and predigest it and reduce phytic acid, etc. what is the point of using a gluten-free starter on gluten-free flours? I love the idea but just didn't quite understand, other than the taste. Why would one need to do it? Does the gluten-free starter still reduce phytic acid in grains or what are the benefits of using it? Thanks!

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    Since sourdough starters are known to break down gluten and predigest it and reduce phytic acid, etc. what is the point of using a gluten-free starter on gluten-free flours? I love the idea but just didn't quite understand, other than the taste. Why would one need to do it? Does the gluten-free starter still reduce phytic acid in grains or what are the benefits of using it? Thanks!

    I too am curious about the need for a gluten-free starter. Is there even photic acid in gluten-free rice flour? Could you use a gluten flour to make the starter then make the bread with gluten-free flours?

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    Thanks for the starter recipe. I've used the one at the Art of Gluten Free Baking website and had great luck with it. I'm not being allowed to post a link to it, but if you google that site and "sourdough bread starter" you'll find the starter recipe and the link to the recipe for the bread itself. I've made it perhaps a dozen times and it's very good. A little trouble getting it 100% done in the middle of the loaf, but i'm thinking a little tinkering will figure it out. perhaps just baking a little longer.

    Cover the bread with tinfoil after it bakes for 15 minutes (and rises a bit). Take the tin foil off about ten minutes before the loaf is done baking. Bake at a lower temperature to extend baking time (I often bake at 315 degrees F for over an hour).

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    Some people are gluten intolerant as well as wheat intolerant. Some people are wheat intolerant but can eat isolated gluten. I don't get that. Some people seem to only be gluten intolerant and can eat small amounts of it (like rye or spelt or barley). I myself am allergic to more than just the gluten, so I think fermenting wheat flour would still be bad for me. I think the author is providing the option to do whatever the individual feels is right for his/her health. Some people are only mildly sensitive to gluten and may choose to save money by fermenting organic wheat flour rather than paying twice as much or more for rice flour and having extra costs like xanthan gum/binder etc.

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    Guest Holly

    Posted

    Good looking recipe! Thanks for sharing.

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    Guest Zachary Smith

    Posted

    Hydrolysis is the splitting of molecular chains with water. Here, the strands of organic molecules (carbon based) are split into shorter chains by water to create amino acids. To be a little more specific, as a chemist "Hydrolysis is the breakdown of larger particles into smaller ones" made me cringe.

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    Guest Jamie @afamilieslove.com

    Posted

    Since sourdough starters are known to break down gluten and predigest it and reduce phytic acid, etc. what is the point of using a gluten-free starter on gluten-free flours? I love the idea but just didn't quite understand, other than the taste. Why would one need to do it? Does the gluten-free starter still reduce phytic acid in grains or what are the benefits of using it? Thanks!

    Part of the reason for using a sourdough starter is that you will also get the benefits of all of the good bacteria in your bread, so tasty, and good gut ecology! If you are sensitive to gluten, even a bit, in the starter can bother you, it does for me. I imagine that celiacs would not be able to eat a gluten starter, but the starter sure does more than break down the phytic acid. It has many benefits, and adds a good bread texture to otherwise lacking gluten-free bread. Some people may tolerate gluten flour in the starter, some may not. The option is left open for you to explore and research.

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    Doesn't the baking of the bread kill the good bacteria? I don't understand how it is still good for your gut. Please explain.

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    Doesn't the baking of the bread kill the good bacteria? I don't understand how it is still good for your gut. Please explain.

    The heat in the baking does indeed kill the bacteria as well as the yeast. The good news is that all those good probiotic bacteria have produced health-promoting metabolic by-products that are not destroyed by heat. I was curious about this too until I read a book called "The Probiotics Revolution" written by an immunologist who is on the faculty of the University of Michigan medical school.

     

    We get several benefits from sourdough bread: improved flavor, better digestibility and the metabolic byproducts the yeast and bacteria produce during the fermentation period.

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    Guest Barbara

    Posted

    What really concerned me is that celiac people are not aware that gums and xanthan gums more than not are created with wheat. I'm learning how we can use golden flax or hemp or chia for the binders and I am pleased to say golden flax with small mixture of the others seems to work very well and some have used small amount of psyllium

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    Guest admin

    Posted

    What really concerned me is that celiac people are not aware that gums and xanthan gums more than not are created with wheat. I'm learning how we can use golden flax or hemp or chia for the binders and I am pleased to say golden flax with small mixture of the others seems to work very well and some have used small amount of psyllium

    Xanthan gum is made using corn sugar, and is gluten and corn-free.

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    Guest Anthony A

    Posted

    The heat in the baking does indeed kill the bacteria as well as the yeast. The good news is that all those good probiotic bacteria have produced health-promoting metabolic by-products that are not destroyed by heat. I was curious about this too until I read a book called "The Probiotics Revolution" written by an immunologist who is on the faculty of the University of Michigan medical school.

     

    We get several benefits from sourdough bread: improved flavor, better digestibility and the metabolic byproducts the yeast and bacteria produce during the fermentation period.

    Actually this bacteria strain is resistant to heat and does not die quickly some say it can live up to 180 degrees ... the center of bread does not often reach that in artisan loafs (metal pan would not). THE big but here is the lactic acid and pre-digestion of the gluten so that its longer strain structure making it hard to bread down is reduced ... do not forget the benefits of fermentation on the wheat as well ....

    The sad thing about rice flour is it gets so sour and has to be done with "fake" yeast be nice to be able to grow and make a starter that lives from natural yeast which is far better for you ...

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    What really concerned me is that celiac people are not aware that gums and xanthan gums more than not are created with wheat. I'm learning how we can use golden flax or hemp or chia for the binders and I am pleased to say golden flax with small mixture of the others seems to work very well and some have used small amount of psyllium

    Xanthan gum is produced by bacterial syntheses from the bacteria xanthamonas campestris. The bacteria may be fed corn syrup for energy ton"fuel" its production of the gum commonly used in gluten -free baking, but wheat is not used, and the end product is highly purified and usually certified gluten-free. Typically below 20 ppm.

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    Guest Caroline

    Posted

    Xanthum Gum is gluten-free. It doesn't have wheat at all. This looks like an awesome recipe. I will try it for sure.

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    Great article! Since becoming more aware of the issues with xanthan gum - the GMOs, the digestive issues many people face, I stopped using it. To get the same "hold" and chew that xanthan gum provides, I use psyllium husk powder - a little goes a long way and really creates a "bready" texture, like Barbara says. Check out my new book called Better Breads containing recipes for grain and gluten free breads that are low carb and safe for diabetics too.

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    Actually this bacteria strain is resistant to heat and does not die quickly some say it can live up to 180 degrees ... the center of bread does not often reach that in artisan loafs (metal pan would not). THE big but here is the lactic acid and pre-digestion of the gluten so that its longer strain structure making it hard to bread down is reduced ... do not forget the benefits of fermentation on the wheat as well ....

    The sad thing about rice flour is it gets so sour and has to be done with "fake" yeast be nice to be able to grow and make a starter that lives from natural yeast which is far better for you ...

    I have been making starter with Sorghum flour as well as gluten-free oat bran flour and it works great. Try that.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He has covered Health News for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com. His work has appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate, among others.

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