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What is that thing called Sourdough?

Why are there so many people talking about sourdough, what is that all about? my mum asked me one day 😬

As we approach the winter solstice, Mother Earth reminds us with a delightful rain that winter has arrived. The temperatures drop, darkness descends earlier, and the days feel shorter. While some may find winter and cold unbearable, for me, it’s a magical season filled with contrasts and colors. The sight of dry leaves scattered on the ground, the rejuvenating rain breathing life back into the earth and its creatures, and the majestic mountains blanketed in snow that secure water for the coming summer, all create a captivating tapestry.

Winter mornings are meant for cozy indulgences like hot showers, savoring comforting soups, relishing in sopaipillas, and sipping coffee while engrossed in a good book wrapped in a thick, warm blanket.

For the adventurous souls, it’s time to get hands deep in dough. There’s no better season for baking than winter. After all, who wants to bake bread or ginger cookies in December with temperatures soaring at 31°C? That’s something for our friends in the northern hemisphere to ponder. As for me, I delight in the art of baking, exploring a myriad of delectable treats, but lately, my heart leans more towards the art of crafting sourdough bread above all else.

A living ferment made of water and flour

One day, my mum curiously asked, “What’s the deal with sourdough?” I smiled and replied, explaining that it’s a living ferment crafted from water and flour. Excitedly, I delved into its origins and various uses. Eager to share my passion, I handed her one of my perfectly baked breads. However, her reaction was less enthusiastic, as she wrinkled her nose and commented, “This tastes like vinegar. Has it gone bad?”

I chuckled and admitted that it had slightly over-fermented during its night in the refrigerator. But to me, that tangy flavor was just right. It had become an acquired taste. It made me realize that while sourdough had become a cherished part of my culinary journey, for others, it was an unfamiliar and peculiar taste.

Our taste buds had been conditioned by chemically treated foods, favoring the shiny, fluffy white bread with its perfect smooth crust that has become the norm. How the world had turned upside down! The simple, traditional bread made with organic whole grain flours and natural yeast without any additives, as our ancestors did for centuries, is now an exception rather than the rule. It’s astonishing how industrialization has influenced our preferences, leading us to choose synthetic and toxic options over natural and organic ones.

But we must return to our roots. It took some time to acclimate my family to sourdough bread. In Spanish, my mother tongue the term “sourdough” does not sound quite appealing, so a clever alternative emerged and we call it “Masa madre” (mother-dough).

But what makes it so special?

Foreigners, particularly those from Nordic countries, have been ahead of the curve in embracing natural and organic options. For decades, they have cherished “Sourdough” or simply artisan bread, as it’s referred to in many places. It’s high time we appreciate and embrace the goodness of this ancient and flavorful delight once again.

To begin with, a high-quality sourdough bread is crafted from whole grain flours or a combination of untreated flours, devoid of excessive chemicals. Unlike white flours, which are laden with numerous unpronounceable additives like calcium propionate, amylase, chlorine dioxide, sodium metabisulfite, L-cysteine hydrochloride, calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate (SSL), sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (CSL), distilled monoglyceride, and countless others. These additives serve various purposes, such as preventing clumping, hindering mold growth, enhancing texture, promoting whiteness, prolonging shelf life, and improving visual appeal.

While these chemicals are generally approved by health authorities in some countries. It doesn’t take a scientist to grasp that long-term consumption of such additives can have adverse effects on our well-being.

In contrast, an excellent sourdough bread is primarily composed of whole grains, containing only flour, water, and salt. Along with a sourdough starter that hosts wild yeasts. The dough is then left to ferment for about 4 to 24 hours, depending on the surrounding temperature and humidity (or the controlled fermentation chamber). Upon baking with a touch of steam, the loaves expand, creating beautiful shapes, crumb, and crusts while revealing the craftsmanship of the process.

person holding a sourdough bread
Photo by Jytte Elfferich on

Once you learn to appreciate it, the flavor and crunch become a delightful addiction in every bite.


After undergoing long hours of fermentation, these breads undergo a molecular transformation, turning into a much more easily digestible food for the human digestive system. This process can be likened to the difference between eating an unripe fruit versus a ripe one; the ripe fruit, which has already undergone fermentation or decomposition, not only tastes better but is also far gentler on our digestion. Nature’s wisdom, honed over billions of years, teaches us valuable lessons, and we should always be willing to learn from it. In general, fermented foods are beneficial for health, although over-fermentation may carry some risks to a certain extent.

In the realm of bread, sourdough, when consumed in moderation, stands out as a healthier option compared to its heavily processed counterpart, the suspiciously perfect looking sliced bread.

For several years now, sourdough bread has been a staple in my diet. It all began when I received a diagnosis of autoimmune diseases and decided to eliminate gluten from my meals to alleviate inflammation in my body. Initially, I exclusively consumed sourdough bread for quite some time. However, circumstances eventually led me to make the difficult decision of completely eliminating gluten from my diet. As much as it pained me, I had to bid farewell to the beloved sourdough bread that had become a cherished part of my culinary journey.

The Hidden History

The history of wheat gluten’s evolution is widely acknowledged and debated, leaving no room for doubt that today’s wheat grains differ significantly from their counterparts of 50 years ago. With genetic modifications designed to withstand various environmental challenges such as temperature fluctuations, fungi, and pests, modern grains have acquired an unparalleled toughness that poses a challenge for the human digestive system, especially if it’s already compromised.

In ancient times, around 50 years ago and further back, the wheat fields were meticulously threshed, and the harvested wheat piles were left in the field until a truck arrived to collect them. Subsequently, these grains would make their way to the mills, where they awaited their turn to be transformed into flour. During this natural process, moisture-laden grains tended to germinate, resulting in molecular transformations that enriched them with bioavailable nutrients. Just look at the vegans and their love for sprouts, showcasing the value of such nutrient-rich grains in the past.

However, contrast this with today’s mechanized processes. Mega-truck factories sweep through the fields, rapidly threshing the grains with efficiency, but leaving little time for rest and germination. Instead, sealed bags of flour emerge from the other end, replete with chemicals and additives. This modern industrialization demonstrates a total lack of respect for the precious gifts of nature that nourish us. Unfortunately, these hardened grains have not evolved in harmony with the human digestive system. Their indigestibility poses a risk to our intestines, and even a tiny particle of modern gluten entering the bloodstream can trigger inflammation and pave the way for chronic and autoimmune diseases.

Gluten-Free Sourdough Options

It’s crucial for us to reflect on how our food production processes have evolved and how they may impact our health and well-being in the long run. Embracing the wisdom of nature and respecting the symbiotic relationship between food and our bodies can lead us toward a healthier, happier future.

With a tinge of sadness, I bid farewell to sourdough bread for what seemed like an eternity. Even now, I yearn for scientific research that could conclusively unveil whether fermented gluten from sourdough truly poses harm. While I cannot assert anything definitively, I’ve learned that when in doubt, it’s always wiser to err on the side of caution.

As I embarked on this journey of dietary transformation, I gradually replaced the wheat flour delights with an array of gluten-free cereals. From rice and quinoa to certified oats, buckwheat, and a medley of starches derived from yucca, potato, and corn, not to mention the plethora of flours extracted from seeds like flaxseed, chia, sunflower, and sesame. My kitchen became a canvas for experimenting with these diverse ingredients.

My own gluten-free sourdough starter

Curiosity led me to wonder if I could cultivate a sourdough starter with some of these alternative flours. So, I delved into research, embarking on my Google quest. After visiting numerous websites and consuming countless YouTube videos, I managed to fashion my own rice and quinoa sourdough starter. It brought me immense joy, akin to an earthworm relishing the aftermath of a refreshing rainfall.

Yet, the road to creating gluten-free bread proved far from straightforward. The familiar laws that governed the kingdom of gluten no longer held sway in this realm. The aspirations of witnessing a beautifully plump, inflated, and crispy bread seemed elusive without gluten’s support. But I was undeterred. Experimenting with a medley of cereal flours, I found a path to a gratifying taste. By employing a binding agent, I learned how to encapsulate the precious CO2 bubbles in the gluten-free sourdough. After countless trials and errors, my efforts bore fruit in the form of loaves that, while not on par with the traditional sourdough, were nonetheless delicious and fluffy. Most importantly, I could savor them without the slightest worry of gluten causing harm.

Venturing into Gluten-Free Sourdough

The dawn of gluten-free sourdough bread heralds a ray of hope for individuals afflicted with celiac disease and those who exhibit sensitivity to gluten, including myself. This groundbreaking frontier in the world of baking has captivated the hearts of countless enthusiasts scattered across the globe, all diligently perfecting their techniques to craft a bread that not only matches but surpasses the delightful flavors of traditional sourdough.

Within the walls of my workshop, I have passionately devoted my time and effort to crafting not one, not two, but three exquisite gluten-free sourdough bread recipes. With my very own “quality control department”, my dear mother, agerly tasting each creation and proclaiming them “truly divine,” I have every reason to believe that these recipes are poised to captivate the taste buds of bread aficionados everywhere.

In anticipation of a brighter future, I extend a heartfelt invitation to each and every one of you to grace my workshop’s doorstep once the shadow of quarantine has finally dissipated. Together, we shall delve into the artistry of gluten-free breadmaking, exploring its nuances and unraveling its delicious secrets.

While we await that momentous day, if your curiosity is piqued, rest assured that ordering these delectable creations is a mere click away through our user-friendly website or a quick message on WhatsApp. Your satisfaction is not only my priority, but also my driving inspiration to refine and innovate further.

Feedback is most welcome

To foster a community of knowledge and culinary wisdom, I eagerly welcome any information, recipes, or suggestions you may wish to share. My workshop is a living testament to the spirit of exploration, ever ready to embrace novel ideas and weave them into the tapestry of gluten-free breadmaking.

As raindrops gently patter against my windowpane, painting a picture of serenity, I find myself yearning for the delightful simplicity of a toasted slice of gluten-free sourdough bread, adorned with a drizzle of golden honey – a treat that embodies both comfort and indulgence, a harmonious symphony of flavors. Until the stars align and we meet again, dear friends, may your spirits remain high and your cravings be sated by the promise of what lies ahead.

Sad Note

Regrettably, in June 2022, I had to make the difficult decision to close the doors of my beloved gluten-free sourdough and ferment workshop. The relentless impact of the pandemic and the relentless rise of inflation rendered it impractical to sustain the cherished project. Nevertheless, I refused to let my passion and knowledge go to waste. Instead, I channeled all my experience and unwavering enthusiasm into creating something enduring – my comprehensive gluten-free sourdough bread guide available in PDF on our website and in English on Amazon.

Namaste image

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