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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Gluten-free Sourdough Starter

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    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.

    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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 Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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