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Happy New Year! I’ve been up to my culinary elbows in homemade refried beans and Mexican rice and kombucha the last few months, and can’t wait to share the recipes with you! But first, a bread post.

Yes, I said bread.

Because I was given this awesome little gluten free bread book for Christmas and my mind has been blown by the crazy amazing science of wild sourdough. The book is called Gluten Free and Vegan Bread by The Flying Apron’s Jennifer Katzinger. My starter didn’t happen as quickly as Katzinger suggests it will, so if yours doesn’t either, don’t worry. I made a few notes below and changes to her original recipe that I think are helpful.

Real sourdough bread is always made from wild yeast; that is, yeast that is harvested from the air in your home by a sitting bowl-full of flour and water. I know, sounds kinda gross. Somehow, the yeasts that are naturally floating around in your kitchen air find themselves being sucked into a colony (or force themselves into a colony, perhaps?) in the cozy habitat of flour-water. This weirdness God actually invented and then somewhere along Adam’s line someone discovered it made that no-place-called-home food called bread.

This wild-caught yeast is multi-strain and is good for the gut…or at least good-er for the gut..as opposed to single-strain yeast bought in the store which help breads rise quickly but which is harder on your system. Store-bought yeast is not helpful to the gut, especially a gut that is compromised by poor immunity, poor digestion, candida, gastritis, etc. When it comes to critters in the gut, the good ones work better as a team (multi-strain) in keeping tabs on the bad ones. In theory, gluten free bread from wild sourdough starter is the best-for-you kind of bread, if you’re gonna eat bread. Don’t eat bread regularly – even this bread – if you are diabetic, have candida, or are trying to lose weight. That being said, if you’re gonna eat bread AT ALL, this is it, baby!

What I’m giving you here is a recipe for a starter. Once it’s ticking along nicely, and you’re ready to make bread with it, I highly recommend this recipe from Jeane at artofglutenfreebaking.com.. It’s the recipe I follow and have had wonderful success with.

For the Starter:

You’ll need:
1 glass gallon jar (no lid needed)
1 cup room-temp filtered water
1 cup teff or brown rice flour
2 red cabbage leaves

In the morning, whisk together 1 cup teff flour with 1 cup room temperature water in a gallon glass jar. Whisk very well until the flour is completely incorporated. Add 2 red cabbage leaves to the jar, and stir to submerge. Cover the jar with parchment paper that has been poked with lots of holes (for air flow), and secure it to the jar with a rubber band. Place the jar on your countertop, or top of the fridge (if it’s clean up there…yah, right). If your counters are stone, marble, or granite, place a wood cutting board under the jar; this will help the yeasties not get too cold.

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Congratulations. You now have a sourdough starter! Which needs to be fed twice a day. Yeah.

This is the super important bit: feed your starter twice a day. If you don’t, your starter will never get off the ground. The only thing it’ll grow is mold. Mine did. At first. Because I forgot to feed it. And I almost gave up, cuz who wants to feed this weird-smelling mushpot every day!? It’s like having a pet. But, if you want sourdough, you gotta do it. So, be nice to your pet. Give your sourdough some twice-daily love.

Also, remove the cabbage leaves after 3 days. Otherwise they will mold. Red cabbage evidently has some natural yeasts on the surface of its leaves that propagates a starter in a hurry. So, do the leaves. Just take them out once they’ve done their job. You’ll notice the starter will have bubbles in it, perhaps even a little foam. This is success! It may take 7 to 10 days to get to this point; don’t worry if it happens slowly. Just keeping feeding it and stirring it well.

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So, here’s how you feed your starter. In the morning when you wake up and get your breakfast, feed your sourdough too: 1 cup brown rice flour (or garbanzo or millet or teff) and 1 cup room temperature water. Whisk it together in the jar really well, cover the jar back up and replace it to its spot on the counter. Then at night, when you’re making the last rounds in the kitchen before heading to bed, feed it again – 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, whisk whisk whisk, cover, replace. You may absolutely alternate flours; in fact, I think the yeasties rather like a change of feed. They seem to really hoop and howl when I go for the garbanzo, especially.

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You’ll go on feeding it every day, twice a day, keeping it on the counter and baking with it daily or every other day, indefinitely. If you’re not a baker but once a week or less, then keep your starter in the fridge, feeding it 1 day a week and letting it stay out on the counter that day (then, the day you bake, take it out in the morning, feed it, and let it come to room temp before using). I have not done this yet, as my starter is quite new and I’m happy to propagate it on the counter and bake frequently. That’s why I started this crazy yeast-pot!

How do you know when your starter is ready to use? When it’s all busy with bubbles and foam and even hooch (a yeast by-product of liquid that rises to the top…harmless and even good stuff, I promise!). When you’re starter is bubbling away and smelling almost bready and chatting at you as only yeast can, it’s time to make some bread!

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