Top 10 Reasons to Eat Sourdough Bread

matt-breadJust about everyone has an affinity for some kind of bread, and most of us have heard of a reason or two why we maybe shouldn’t eat slice after slice of it. While there is some validity to the bread-bashing, sourdough made from your own unique starter of wild yeast and bacteria often defies the negativity, and it does so purely by its nature. The crafting of sourdough is an ancient art, and one of which we’re pretty fond–for a few (or 10) reasons.

1. Sourdough improves the texture and palatability of whole-grain and fiber-rich products. Each starter imparts its own unique flavor to the bread, based on the wild yeast and bacteria that inhabit the starter.

2. Sourdough bread contains the bacteria Lactobacillus in a higher proportion to yeast than do other breads. More Lactobacillus means higher production of lactic acid, which means less of the potentially dangerous phytic acid. And what does that mean? More mineral availability (particularly k, p, Mg, Zn) and easier digestion!

3. Easier digestion is made even more possible by the bacteria-yeast combo working to predigest the starches in the grains. Predigestion by sourdough = less digestion for you.

4. Sourdough preparation is more lengthy (soaking, rinsing, etc.), and this longer prep time results in the protein gluten being broken down into amino acids. Again, this translates to easier  digestion, sometimes even for those who are sensitive to gluten.

5. Acetic acid–which inhibits the growth of mold, is produced in the making of sourdough. So, sourdough naturally preserves itself. Pretty neat considering the toxic preservatives thrown into the food supply today.

6. Bread is often avoided by those affected by weight-gain and metabolic syndrome – rightly, perhaps, in the case of industrial white loaves with a high glycemic index (GI). But sourdough LAB produce acetic, propionic and lactic acid (organic acids) that, under the heat of baking, cause interactions that reduce starch availability,  lowering postprandial glycemic responses.

7. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB – including those commonly found in sourdough bread) produce beneficial compounds: antioxidants, the cancer-preventive peptide lunasin, and anti-allergenic substances, some of which may help in the treatment of auto-immune diseases.

8. The integrity of sourdough is so complex that it contains a host of goodness in terms of nutrients. In sourdough, you can find vitamins B1-B6, B12, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium (okay – some of these in fairly tiny amounts)–in addition to uniquely balanced proteins and fatty acids. Whoa! This is in contrast to most commercially produced breads, which maintain only a fraction of their original nutrient content after all the processing they undergo.

9. Sourdough bread made with wild yeast, bacteria, and whole grain flour is the oldest and most original form of leavened bread. It truly is an ancient art that is crafted in harmony with nature. It’s only natural that we eat it as opposed to other breads.

10. Sourdough bread is typically made from wheat.  The  inulin and oligosaccharides contained in human milk, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, burdock root, asparagus, garlic, onion, leek, banana, wheat, barley and rye (gluten containing grains) are excellent sources of fuel for good bacteria in the gut (aka prebiotics).

Another good reason is the FLAVOR. Tangy and distinctive, it will undoubtedly leave you wanting another bite. What’s your favorite reason to eat sourdough?

149 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons to Eat Sourdough Bread

  1. I think this is a great post! My only question is regarding #6 and #7. Is there any way to preserve the beneficial bacteria from being destroyed during baking? It is my understanding that they are destroyed at any temperature above 100 degrees, or so?

    1. I recently read a book, The Probiotic Revolution, that is all about probiotic research and in it the author used the term “meta biotic” quite a bit. If I understood it correctly, it sounds to me like even when good bacteria is no longer alive, it still feeds the good bacteria in our gut and thus becomes a meta biotic instead of a probiotic. Hopefully I am remembering that correctly. I believe that fiber is also a prebiotic…? Whole wheat sourdough bread is rich in fiber. Anyway, meta biotics and pro biotics are beneficial in a very similar way. That combined with the enzymes that are present in sourdough bead (which was not talked about in this article as far as I can tell), it is very gut friendly even if the actual live bacteria is cooked to a temperature that it is not longer actively growing.

      1. Thank you Brandy. I have been looking for studies showing the efficacy of heat-killed probiotics. Not just for sourdough but for tempeh.

      2. Certain types of fiber…soluble fiber, will serve as a prebiotic. Wheat has very little but it does have insoluble fiber, which will not feed probiotics.

    2. I believe the purpose of a wood-fired brick oven is to create a crust totally around the loaf. This crust acts to prevent the inside of the loaf from becoming too hot. Thus not all the microbes in the sourdough loaf are killed. The remaining beneficial microbes repopulate over the next few days rendering an even more nutritional loaf of bread. I have made sourdough starters when using a piece of sourdough bread so I do not believe all the microbes are killed in the oven.

      1. Sorry David, but the internal temp of the loaf must reach 200F regardless of how it is baked. 200F will kill 99% of microbial life. 100% kill is reached at 250F. There is no beneficial bacteria or other microbes left in any kind of bread regardless of how it’s prepared.

        1. Dean,
          There is discrepancy in whether what you say is true or not. I am reviewing research on the topic. Remember that bacteria from meteors are what started life on this planet. Those bacteria were able to survive extreme temperatures. There’s a lot we don’t know!

          1. @Cookus. You are correct that there are thermophillic bacteria in existence but they comprise a minute fraction of all microbial life on the planet and none of them are in sourdough starter.

            And, yes we do know that virtually all microbial life (except for thermophillic bacteria, the amounts of which are insignificant and do not apply to sourdough cultures) is killed at 250F. That is the benchmark temperature at which things are considered sterile, even for surgical use. I work with plant micropropagation and mushroom tissue culture which require a sterile environment. I have a clean room and sterilization equipment. Even simply boiling something on the stove for an hour will kill anything living. I know this from a practical standpoint because I used to simply boil things before I got my autoclave. At any rate, I know these things because I’ve studied them and work with them on a regular basis as part of my vocation.

            However, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that some microbes do survive (keep in mind yeasts and the bacteria strains in sourdough starter are NOT thermophillic). If there is a significant population of leftover microbes in the bread they would continue to digest the proteins and starches in the bread and it would be a sloppy mess in a couple of days.

            Some spores on grain can survive pressurized sterilization; these are called endoscopes (endogenous to the grain). However in the liquid environment of the starter culture these spores will germinate and meet their death at the hands of the trillions of “friendly” organisms in the culture/dough or the acidic state of the media.

            One if the issues I have with things in general, like this, is that folks will write/publish whatever they want to, even when there is no hard science to back it up. There is no data to support what the author stated in items 6&7. So another person comes along and reads it, thinking it’s true, and starts spreading that information around. Pretty soon there is a mass of folks saying/believing something that hasn’t met the acid test. Many people believe something simply because they read it on the Internet, not because they studied it or worked with it.

            Not really part of this discussion, but we really don’t know what started life on this planet. Alien microbes is one theory. But the microbes had to start somewhere even then! They could very well have evolved right here on this spinning rock. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two, or something else we don’t even know about? It is fascinating, no matter what the impetus was! What ever the beginning of life, all living things on this planet, humans included, evolved from bacteria. Try talking about that in church 😉

            A book you may be interested in based what you’ve written: Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm by Stephen Harrod Buhner

          2. There is discrepancy in whether what you say is true or not, regarding bacteria from meteors being the origin of human life.
            In fact, Romans 1:20 (NLT) says, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
            I am not condemning your opinion, but it is just that…and opinion.

        2. My friends father just takes a cooked piece of last weeks sour dough and used as a started for the the up and coming batches of bread – Try it and have acre think ?

      2. Hi there,

        my uncle has been baking a sourdough bread for more, than 25 years, using for a new starter a piece of previous baked bread…the bacterias are definitely not killed, as the starter which starts a new process of fermentation, has been made of already baked bread…

        1. Nika,
          You are absolutely correct and in being absolutely correct you have also saved our family starter, Carl.
          Last week we were on spring break, so we were very casual with our morning routines. Carl had done his bit for us earlier in the week and we still had half a loaf left on the breadboard. On Thursdays my wife and I have a housekeeper come and help with the deep cleaning, god bless Debbie. Come Thursday, we gathered up the brood (2 kids in primary and four dogs :D) and headed out for some adventure, Debbie likes a peaceful setting to practice her art in. So while we were off having pho and looking at newly hatched chicks at the feed store, Debbie was making things very very tidy. Carl had been resting on the counter in preparation for bread making later in the evening. He had been quite active this break, spending a lot of time on the counter, as opposed to his chillier habitation in the fridge during normal weeks when my wife and I are working. Somewhere in the mix of dirty dishes and floors, Carl met an untimely demise.Later that evening when preparing to make bread I spied a familiar tub looking strangely spotless on the dish rack. “Carl!” I couldn’t believe it. My dear wife did her best to console me, but alas what could be done? Our old friend Carl was no more. We resigned ourselves to fate and began reaching out to people we may have given bits of Carl to. You know the folks who want to make their own sourdough, you get them set up, but your not totally sure if they ran with it. It hit me the next evening, as we were getting ready for bed, I recalled your post. The next morning I set to work. A slice of Carl’s last efforts was crumbled into some flour and water. Remarkably by lunchtime the bubbles were forming. By the lunchtime the next day Carl had arisen! Well he was at least ready to raise up some dough. The faint scent of sourness and a good amount of bubbles were present. When I stirred up the starter, the structure underneath looked perfect. Next he went Into the bowl, with water and salt, and onto the proving shelf for an overnight ferment. By morning the dough had bloomed up nicely and it performed well in the oven (cloche at 450 F). Wonderful crust, good open crumb, nice mild sourness, and delicious with butter and jam. In summation dear Nika, you have saved Carl, although everyone insisted he be rechristened Carl’s Jr, and provided some important evidence that sourdough bread is very much a probiotic food with living microbes surviving even the hadean tortures of the bake cycle.

          1. This is such a great story! We have a Carl in our family too; however, ours is an upright bass. Before a trip, I always ask “Did we get Carl?”. He has a place of honor riding on the bed in our RV when we travel.

          2. Rob……thank you for your story about Carl. I never knew you could do this, and it proves you are never too old to learn! I am 83 and have been making sourdough bread for 20 years!

          3. Excellent, humorful story, loved it! It is empowering to make my own sourdough bread with left over bread, I am so surprised this works! Thank you for posting.

          1. Could it be that the crumb drew bacteria from the atmosphere, after the oven temps. killed off most/all during the baking process. Then, even if your starter was destroyed, and you have some of the last loaf bread, you could create more starter from the crumb?

    3. The Bread Geek explains what happens in her book, The Art of Natural Yeast. Basically, when the good bacteria feel threatened they put off spores that are dormant during the baking process, but will grow again once in a hospitable environment. Including in your gut.

        1. Cookus, I am trying to find that exact question. Hopefully someone can link us a research paper that shows how much probiotics are still in the bread. It seems like this would be an easy one to study. The spore theory is intriguing. I might have to look into that more.

      1. I’m sure that any gastro-enterologist would confirm that there are many spore-forming bacteria that can ‘hide’ when exposed to unfavourable conditions; for example Clostridium difficile when exposed to ciprofloxacillin. While reading the earlier comments, it struck me that spor-formation may explain Carl’s revival 🙂

    4. I have this same question and have not gotten an answer yet..sorry to not be more help..but just letting you know there is someone else out there wondering with you 🙂

      1. If you look through the comments on this thread, you will see some studies cited that claim “killed bacteria” (heated) still have benefits. Others have chimed in claiming this is false. Here are the thoughts and studies claiming there may be some probiotic (or immune strengthening) potentail post-baking.

        “LAB (including those commonly found in sourdough bread) produce beneficial compounds: antioxidants (7), the cancer-preventive peptide lunasin (8), and anti-allergenic substances, some of which may help in the treatment of auto-immune diseases (9). Interestingly, these by-products seem able to survive heating, suggesting that baked sourdough bread may have ‘probiotic’ potential (10) by stimulating immune responses in the gut (11).”

        7. Coda,R et al, Selected Lactic Acid Bacteria Synthesize Antioxidant Peptides during Sourdough Fermentation of Cereal Flours, App Environ Microbiol, 2012; 78(4): 1087–1096.

        8. Rizzello, CG et al, Synthesis of the Cancer Preventive Peptide Lunasin by Lactic Acid Bacteria During Sourdough Fermentation, Nutri Cancer, 2012; 64: 1, 111-120

        9. Nonaka, Y et al, Antiallergic effects of Lactobacillus pentosus strain S-PT84 mediated by modulation of Th1/Th2 immunobalance and induction of IL-10 production, Int Arch Allergy Immunol, 2008; 145(3): 249-57.

        10. Poutanen K et al, Sourdough and cereal fermentation in a nutritional perspective, Food Microbiol, 2009; 26: 693–699.

        11. Van Baarlen, P et al, Differential NF-kB pathways induction by Lactobacillus plantarum in the duodenum of healthy humans correlating with immune tolerance, Proc Natl Assoc Sci, 2009; 106: 2371–2376.

        I updated the article to reflect this.

    5. My understanding as per the book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast-is that sensing their imminent demise, these beneficial micro organisms have a third option other than life and death-a sore state which withstands undos pitiable conditions (extreme cold, heat, and lack of moisture), which allowed the them to survive in a kind of suspended animation until favorable conditions return. Thus, most of the natural beneficial organisms die in baking, but some survive I this hibernating form and reawaken and live within the bread once it has cooled to a live able temp. This, it is postulated, is what 1. Preserves natural leavened breads, & 2. Yields beneficial microorganisms when we eat it

      1. This is also true with yogurt cultures……they go dormant when frozen then active when the temperature comes back up

    6. I noticed the article said the probiotics produced, helped to “predigest” the grains, so that benefit would not be lost in baking.

    7. No, but you’re still getting the benefit of eating a bread free of phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors, plus the complex flavors and texture!

    8. Okay I read it all. To make things a little simpler, and not really caring about how the world started in this post, I just want to know, if you want to eat bread, and all the info out there says don’t eat bread, is this the lesser of two evils? Another words if you don’t have celiac disease and you like bread occasionally what’s the best whole grain bread one can make it and enjoy it?
      There’s so much conflicting information that sometimes we just wish someone would say eat this bread it’s the best of your options.

    9. they release pores that are protected by a cell before they die. when the bread cools the spores open and release all the good probiatics

    10. The bacteria survive heat just fine. The bacteria produce special enzymes that can sustain there life functions through intense prolonged heat. The yeast certainly dies off but sourdough is very much alive after cooking

    1. It depends on what trigger the wheat sensitivity. If it is poor quality white flour, then homemade sourdough bread is quite a different (more tolerable) animal.

    2. Hi Melody – if you’re looking for wheat-free, you might want to give our breads a try sometime. They’re all 100% rye (yes, totally wheat free), sourdough (36 hour fermentation), non-GMO, all natural and handmade. Our breads are imported from Latvia and are available online or at Whole Foods Markets in the metro NYC and Boston areas. – Margita

      1. Thank you Margita. I will look for your bread, as I’ve been looking for a wheat free, non-gmo, sour bread.

    3. I have made a very successful sourdough using einkorn flour. Einkorn is low gluten and I have wheat and gluten intolerance. Since the einkorn sourdough my digestion has improved considerably.

    1. The sourdough helps increase and reinforce our body’s absorption of cereal grains. Particularly good in breaking down the gluten to make it more digestible. The sourdough decreases the acidification from eating bread and spoils less rapidly (I can attest to that – since I make a loaf every week). I am unable to find research about the precise quantity of probiotic that remains in the bread. Anyone else?

      1. I am beginning to research that now. My gut instinct is to say none to very little. The fermentation did its job and the bacteria is killed when cooked. I imagine it will be in conflict as well…since freezing MK is also in question too. Some say freezing kills it others say it survives.

        Wondering if you got any further with this on your end since this is almost a year old?

  2. even if the cells don’t survive the over, i bet making your own sourdough increases the healthy flora of the baker’s gut since they are working with live bacteria. 😉

  3. Yes, Karre! I agree.

    Shel and Anna- 100 degrees F is the generally accepted cut-off temp for bacteria to remain alive. So, I am not sure the exact probiotic content that may remain post-baking. I think the big thing with this type of homemade sourdough is that the fermentation process allows the good bacteria to thrive and destroy the bad stuff while additionally preventing yeast overgrowth. I am inclined to say that this promotes better gut health even with the heat consideration. Again, though, I’m not sure how much remains alive through the baking process.

  4. Did you ever make a video on how to make this bread? I have tried and tried and failed. I am thinking of getting a bread machine can you or anyone recommend one? I have been looking at a Oster….

    1. Buy a cup of “organic” flour. Add half a cup of warm water. Keep this in a glass jar. Let it stand on your counter for a few days. You will see bubbling. Add more flour and water (two parts flour, one part water). You now have a sourdough starter. Don’t try this with supermarket flour. You can now use supermarket flour to feed your starter but you will never make a starter with it.

      1. Starter is not hard if you start with the right ingredients and do it right. As Walt said, use organic flour, but also remember to use bottled or filtered water. The clorine in our tap water will inhibit the growth of the good yeast and bacteria. I was able to make a very active starter first try with organic whole wheat flower from Hodson mills (but probably works with any organic brand), you can buy at Wallmart for like $2.95 for the small bag. I have read Rye works even better than whole wheat. I didn’t have access to Rye at the time though. Only start it with whole wheat/Rye though, better to feed with All Purpose unbleached white. Whole wheat has the husks in it, which has natural yeast on it already, but also has more of the stuff that encourages bacterial growth, including the bad stuff, while the good yeast tends to prefer the white part of the flower as food. Remember to discard half the starter in weight, and add back the discarded half as food (half water, half flower) every 8 hours or so until your starter doubles in height and is very bubbly when time to feed again. by that time you can refrigerate and feed only once a week or so, keeping up with the discard half, add back half as food rutine. its best to measure by weight, as you get more consistent results.

        The recipe I used was to start off with 4 oz wheat flower and 4 oz water. leave 24 hours, then discard 4 oz. add 2 oz flour, and 2 oz water. Ferment 8 hours, discard 4 oz. add back 2 oz flour, and 2 oz water, ferment 8 hours, discard 4 oz. Keep this up for about a week and then your starter should be sufficiently aged and bubbly to use in baking. To use the starter, what I do is when its time to feed, instead of discarding the 4oz, i transfer to another container. feed my original starter, and place back in fridge where it will stay for about a week more until time to feed again. in the “discard” starter container, I add 2oz water and 2oz flour same as normal, and leave out on counter to ferment for 8 hours. then instead of discarding half as usuall, i double whats already in there. right now we have 8 oz starter. so I will add 4 oz water and 4 oz starter. this will give me 16 oz when time to feed again. I repeat this until i have enough starter for my recipe and then use it in recipe about 4-6 hours after I last fed it, when it is most active.

        These times seem to work for my house which is usually at around 79 degrees in the summer. the time would need to be adjusted depending on the temerature, humidity, etc in your area. Go by visual more than time. when starter has doubled and then starts to go back down is when it is time to feed.

    2. Forget the bread machine… Making bread is easy…it just needs time. Since I was using the recipe commercially and needed consistency, we added a small amount of yeast to kick start the sourdough. Also, please note that it is important to refresh the starter once a week or it loses potency. Assuming you have starter( the Mother in my recipe) from below, here is a foolproof recipe:
      Daughter Ingredients
      Mother 9
      Water 18
      Unbleached or whole wheat flour 56
      1. Mix ingredients and let rest for an hour or more. Use for starter.

      Starter Ingredients
      Unbleached or whole wheat flour 164
      Daughter starter 105 ( the entire amount)
      Water 102

      1. Mix starter ingredients in large bowl or bin. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
      Dough Ingredients Grams
      Unbleached Flour 508
      Starter 306 ( the entire amount)
      Lukewarm Water 286
      Instant yeast 5
      salt 13

      2. Mix starter with water and yeast until water turns milky and starter is distributed throughout.
      3. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
      4. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead for a minute or so until dough is soft supple and tacky but not sticky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Stretch and fold dough and then flip it over and tuck into a ball. Let dough rest 10 minutes and do stretch, fold and flip again.
      5. Refrigerate dough overnight in covered container.
      6. Before baking, let dough rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
      7. Shape dough, slash and place on greased sheet or in greased pan. Let rise until just over lip of pan. Alternatively, bake in Dutch oven with cover on and cornmeal in bottom of pan.
      8. Preheat oven to 400◦ and bake. Mist with spritzer in first few minutes of baking. Bake 10 minutes then rotate pan and continue baking for 10 minutes until loaf is light brown and internal temperature is 200◦ (90◦) in center.

      All measurements are in grams because it is easier to make a consistent product.

    3. Don’t get me wrong, I love making bread by hand. But as for bread machines, you can’t argue with 15 minutes prep and fresh, delicious bread 3-4 hours later! With a delay timer! This changed my bread from being a special occasion, when I had time, to being an every day event and no more store bread. I use an Oster, it was a gift that just keeps on giving! I also use my own starter, not the recipe in the Oster book. Equal parts by weight organic rye flour and spring water. Even filtered tap water killed my starter 🙁 The starter is so strong I have to keep it in the fridge except when feeding from the second day of its life. It is disappointing that for the machine you still need to use store bought yeast, because of the timing, but I think my sour is very strong … actually I have had trouble with it trying to break out of the machine, so I think I will cut down on the store bought yeast. Definitely the bread is still sour, and it is so delicious, I can’t go back! Using rye flour or white flour to make more ‘starter’ before adding the ingredients to the machine seems equally delicious. I use brown sugar instead of white when making a more rye-ish bread. For special occasions of course by-hand will always be special, and for those who just have the time or can make the time. For me, the bread machine has been life changing and has allowed me to make sourdough part of our everyday lives. So happy!

      1. Hi Jess. Have you tried setting your machine on ‘dough’, shaping it in a pan, proofing it, then baking it in your oven? I’ve been doing that for years and I make an excellent 2/3 whole wheat+. Thanks for prompting me to use a sourdough starter in my machine!


  5. Ohhhhhh- donation. Will do – can I buy the bread making DVD if I donate 25? Bargaining for bread success – or does it have to be at the level mentioned.

  6. I’ve just started my very first sourdough starter. I am no expert but have been reading up on this. One thing for sure is that there is much to be learned about many different types of bread, flours, grains and methods. I shall always be at the learning stage because there is always more to learn. I have been baking bread for a little while now starting with wholegrain wheat, advancing onto other more ancient grains such as Spelt, Einkorn and Khorasan. Now I’m venturing into sourdough territory. From my limited knowledge I think the bacteria would all be killed off in the baking of the bread however you still benefit when it comes to ‘gut’ health because the bread is easier to digest due to the bacteria having ‘started’ the process and there are more available nutrients. Food intolerances causes inflammation and inflammation causes disease. Obviously with food it starts in the stomach. Eat good food and, in this case, a better bread will create a better environment in your gut and a better environment = a healthier balance of good bacteria. Is it right to say that it would be more of a prebiotic as supposed to a probiotic? I would think so in a round about way. But what we can all agree on is, its healthier and delicious. Well my Spelt sourdough starter is up to day 2 and can’t wait to try it out. One can use any type if flour just make sure it has good gluten and it isn’t bleached.

    1. And, I’m thinking, that the bad yeast (candida) and gut bacteria can’t have the same field-day w/ sourdough as they’d be having with that regular bread you’ve omitted.
      Result: Better gut health.

  7. I live in the Dallas area. I have a pretty old sour dough starter that I made from scratch 15 years ago. It is a wee bit temperamental. I only use it every couple of weeks and I refrigerate it the rest of the time. It does need refreshing for 2 days prior to my planned baking day. If not, the flour becomes very slack and almost wall paper texture. It appears as if the sourdough is very greedy and hungers for the proteins in the wheat.
    Also I can’t make a big batch and freeze it. Again the greedy sourdough gobbles up the goodness and leaves me with wallpaper paste. So I bake all I make the day I make it – and freeze the bread after it is made.
    Also when I make a large batch of dough, refrigerate it and then tear pieces off for baking each day, the sourdough starter again is greedy. So I save the sourdough starter for the days when I plan to bake just one loaf and to have no leftover dough for future bakes.

    1. Maybe. I think the jury is still out. Read Michael Pollan’s information on sourdough in his new book Cooked.

  8. All I know, I’ve been reading up on sourdough bread, and have since started a sourdough starter…….there are no additives or chemicals, sugar, salt, high fructose corn syrup…… to be better for me…plus the taste is phenomenol!!

  9. I have a question………I have my starter ready, How much starter do you need to make a loaf of sourdough bread?

  10. A great book to learn how to make sourdough bread is Tartine Bread. It gives you step by step with pictures from how to make your starter to making sourdough bread and other recipes.
    I have been using this book for a few years now and have now started making sprouted grain sourdough bread. You can also use sourdough in other recipes such as pancakes, cakes and muffins.

  11. Well, this is very good news, after nearly all foods i ate as a boy are “Dangerous” now.
    I lived for 9+ years in San Francisco…and Glorious Sour Dough was everywhere. It is a very fine bread…we live much farther east now…but still eat San Francisco Sour Dough every week of more. Thank Heaven…A true miracle !! Folks who are “No Breads” people….Stop that, eat some sour dough ! You’ll love it!!

  12. Cynthia, would you mind if I shared your Top 10 reasons on my FB page, website and included in my marketing materials? You’ve managed to lay it all out in a very understandable, ‘user-friendly’ way. Margita

    PS – if you haven’t heard of us yet or tried our breads, I’d love to send some your way.

  13. Dear all, in an italian recipe book for bread from which I made my sourdough starter and bread, it says that if the loaf is over 1 kg in weight some of the bacteria manage to survive the baking in the middle of the loaf (in italian its called the pulcino). It then spreads again throughout the loaf when the bread is taken out of the oven. the book suggests you wait a day before eating the bread to give time for the bacteria to grow again.

  14. Many of the yeasts and bacterias to which you refer will die in the oven when the bread is baked. Yeast will die at around 50 degrees and most bacteria dies at 70 degrees. The internal temp of bread when it is baked is 90 degrees. How can things that are dead (you know what I mean) be helpful to me? I understand the predigestion, breakdown of gluten, natural preservation, etc but once the “live” “good for me” bacterias are dead, they cannot possibly be helping me. In yoghurt where they are live when I eat them, fine, but in bread when they are dead? help?

    1. Another subscriber led me to a study showing that heat-exposed bacteria do have beneficial properties. Seems counter intuitive but there so much we don’t understand yet about this internal universe of bacteria.

    2. have a look here

      it explains ( warning; VERY scientific! ) that even heat killed lactobacilli are an anti-inflamatory food that will help to heal your gut.
      Also many of the byproducts (enzymes, organic acids, vitamins ) from the sourdough culture are really good for you.
      Real sourdough bread is the staff of life; commercial yeasted breads are just toxic, even when they are organic!

  15. Thank you cookus for this fantastic post. We make all of our breads the traditional way, using starters and a long fermentation process for these reasons. Much better for you! Cheers!

  16. Does anyone have written instructions on how to make and maintain sprouted brown rice starter using kefir (and not natural yeast from the air)?

    Also instructions on how to use this starter to make sourdough bread using sprouted brown rice?


  17. Probiotics are not necessarily live bacteria. , think bromelain and papain.
    I think lactic acid and acetic acid. also have probiotic activity.

    The real work of sourdough is the predigestion and conversions done on the gluten.

    1. Probiotics, by definition, are bacteria. Bromelain and papain are enzymes. Lactic and acetic acid are simply acids. Enzymes and acids are not probiotics.

  18. In 1934 my mother was given some starter dough which had come from the Klondike Gold Rush. We kept it alive for many years to make sourdough bread . It is so good to find it at progressive markets. I use it daily and at 93 give it some of the credit for my excellent health. David

    1. When I read your comment, I literally clapped outloud. and said wowww.

      In my very very italian family we eat nothing but bread and pasta all the time. At 26 I now have health issues due to being fed a bunch of antibiotics. But I was told I must change my diet and bread was the first to go… 🙁 However now that see sourdough might be ok to eat I am thrilled. I’m hoping to learn how to make it, I have just been given a free starter set , and give some to my Nonna. She is 88.

  19. While I love sourdough bread and agree that it has many health benefits (, I don’t agree with all of your benefits.
    6. There aren’t any live Lactobacillus in baked sourdough bread. In the starter/culture, yes. But not in the bread. It’s questionable if there is any benefit to eating good, dead bacteria.
    8. I don’t know exactly what nutrients sourdough bread does provide (it probably depends upon the flour used), but it doesn’t contain B12.

    Question: is the acetic acid only supposed to prevent mold growth? Mine never gets moldy but it seems to dry out quickly. Does that happen to you?

    P.S. I love the taste, too!

    1. 6. we don’t know yet whether the bacteria die. Depends on “who” is in the bread. What the bacteria do to the dough if it is allowed to ferment is remarkable however. Makes the bread more nutritious.
      8. Who said it has B12? Not me. But I do like butter on my bread!
      My bread seems to resist mold well. It drys out some but it gets eaten quickly in our house. We divide the fresh baked bread into quarters. Leave one quarter out and wrap the remainders tightly and refrigerate. Can last quite awhile that. way.

    2. The wild yeast and lactobacillus in the leaven neutralise the phytic acid as the bread proves through the acidification of the dough. This prevents the effects of the phytic acid and makes the bread easier for us to digest. These phytic acid molecules bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, which make these important nutrients unavailable to us. Long slow fermentation of wheat can reduce phytates by up to 90%. The sourdough bacteria pre-digests the flour, which releases the micronutrients. This process takes place over a long slow fermentation, which gives your loaf a superior taste and texture. Sourdough bread also takes longer to digest; studies have shown that rye flour added to sourdough can help regulate blood sugar levels which helps ward off diabetes.

  20. Great article! Regarding the effect on gut bacteria, I have no doubt eating sourdough results in healthier gut flora, if only through greatly improved nutrition. Bottom line: sourdough is good for you! If you will allow a plug, anyone that would like step by step instructions and recipes for sourdough baking should visit my blog at

    1. I have not tried to make sourdough bread with a gluten free flour. I believe it is possible but the texture might be quite different.

  21. the Sourdough is wonderful. the Sourdough makes the breads whole grains be spongy breads at low temperatures. This effect did not occur with any commercial yeast. I’m finding out if provides vitamin B12. I would not be strange that contains B12, because B12 is produced only by bacteria.
    la “masa madre” es maravillosa. la “masa madre” hace que los panes de granos integrales sean panes esponjosos a bajas temperaturas. Este efecto no ocurrió con ninguna levadura comercial. Estoy averiguando si proporciona vitamina B12. No me extrañaría que contenga vitamina B12, ya que la B12 sólo se produce por bacterias.

  22. I have been making sourdough and baking for a longer period in the oven at less than 100 degrees. Comes out perfect except you don’t have a brown crust. You have to do the stab test with a knife to check when it is cooked. Normally just over 1 hour. Happy Baking. Has any one tried the slow cooker.

  23. I think this is a great article. However, I am not a great fan of doing something just because it is ‘natural’ as mentioned in point 9. I find the term ‘natural’ to be devoid of all meaning. Indeed most biological processes (including using dried yeast) could be termed ‘natural’. If you mean ‘natural’ as opposed to artificial, well ‘artificial’ just means using some form of artifice: man made as opposed to produced by our environment. The last time I checked grain did not grind itself nor pour water on itself and lie around for 12 hours until it had risen.

  24. Not to be “nit-picky”, but, the article DOES state that one of the vitamins present in sourdough is vitamin B12. So, now I’m left to wonder if it does or if it doesn’t??

  25. My digestion seems to be an anomaly! I’m mildly wheat intolerant (ie I can eat small amounts without getting sick, but not huge amounts), and my husband gets very bloated after eating normal bread, so sourdough sounded like a great idea. I made my first loaf (from a commercial rye starter) and was blown away by the flavour & texture – and then my stomach was quite literally blown away too!!! I looked about 7 months pregnant, my stomach was gurgling and bubbling, I got acid reflux (I get that occasionally with acidic foods). I only had one tiny piece, and it took 24 hrs for my digestion to calm down. My husband, on the other hand, ate nearly half the loaf and had no issues at all. So, what is with me?! Normal bread doesn’t bloat me, but sourdough does? I have the same reaction to cultured butter (but not to yoghurt?). I am absurdly disappointed, the sourdough tastes so much better, and I’ve read so many good things about it……

    1. you probably suffer from yeast overgrowth like candida albicans.

      Google the “candida spit test” and do it at home to check yourself

  26. Great post! I am curious if anyone has found scientific studies on: measured live probiotic content in baked sourdough bread, and measured scientific study on B12 content? Those are fascinating to me. So far I have not been able to find any studies on measured probiotics in baked sourdough, only on the starter. I am seeing a few people on the inter-webs say that sourdough bread is a good source of probiotics but they have not backed up the claim, and because it doesn’t make sense because of heat baking, I am curious. The spore theory is intriguing, but I would really like to see research backing it.

  27. A lot of interesting comment about making sourdough bread. I would like to know how much salt is used in making sourdough bread and if salt is removed would that be a problem. I have Menieres’ Disease and need to exclude salt from my diet.

  28. The Title is :….”…to eat sourdough , yet immediately switches the gist of the
    title to: :…why making your own…”
    So is storebought against the recommendations of the author ?
    If so , how many of us have time practicality of making our own?
    I don’t have the wherewithal to make my own bread.
    I hear that sauerkraut has beneficial bacteria as well, so long as it is not
    I love sourdough , have been using wheat / whole wheat for years , no
    obvious problems but Am leaning toward switching to sourdough or something
    I haven’t been to a doctor for about 40 years, might be a ticking time bomb…lol☺

    1. Hi there.
      You might consider shopping for sourdough bread made at a small bakery or your local farmer’s market where you can talk to them about ingredients and procedure.
      Wheat (and maybe rye), water and salt are all that is needed.

  29. Hi , I am new to sour dough. I just made a starter that I got from cooks Illus. It said 10 to 14 days before ready but at the same time that it should be doubled. Mine was doubled in 5 days. This may be a stupid question ,but I need an answer. Do you keep feeding the starter after it doubles or go on to the 10 day mark? Thanks

    1. When you are ‘feeding’ your starter daily with equal quantities of flour and water, are you discarding most of the starter before adding the new flour and water? As the starter gets older – from about 14 days onwards – has it started to develop and get holes?

      Incidentally, tap water can be used, but it must be allowed to sit for at least eight hours to allow the chlorine in the water to dissipate. I have three glass bottles which I fill and rotate.

      When you are ready to bake, if you have been feeding the starter once a day, say, in the morning; the starter must be fed twice, morning and evening, prior to commencing the baking process. The starter should be doubling in height(and strength) in your jar/dish/container.

  30. I have been making my own sourdough for around 6 months now. During this time we have noticed less stomach issues, less bloatedness and my wife, who has suffered from constipation over the years, has had more normal bowel habit. We have however put on weight, perhaps due to the wonderful taste of the sourdough bread which makes excellent toast.

    I have also noticed that sourdough keeps really well even using it two weeks after it has been made to make toast. With normal bread we would probably discard it after a few days but if left any longer it would start to go mouldy. Although my sourdough normally gets eaten within a few days I have actually kept some deliberately to see what would happen. It just goes hard, no blue mould or other growths. This surely makes for a healthier home too?

    Unscientific and anecdotal but hope my observations add to the discussion.

    1. There are many responses to your question in the thread of this post. My personal belief is that the sourdough remains mysterious to us. We are only beginning to understand the world of microbes; why they live and why they die; how many there are and their differences from each other.

      1. Actually I found the scientific answer to that question afterwards. Although yeast and lactobasili die at oven temperatures, products of their digestive processes remain in sourdough in form of minerals, vitamins, etc… they also break down certain nutrients that are otherwise not available to human and turn them in to nutrients that are readily available for processing by our gut flora.

        And interesting enough, I always get the nature’s call about 10-20 minutes after I eat anything sourdough. Sourdough is truly amazing. Thanks for sharing this post and taking time to reply to my comment. Have a great day!

    2. Haluk, it’s probably more about what is NOT in sourdough bread, in comparison to commercial bread. Sourdough is comprised of fermented flour an water and salt. Commercial bread including the so-called ‘artisan’ bread includes commercial yeast, fats, preservatives and goodness knows what else.

      Prior to eating my homemade sourdough bread, whenever I ate shop-bought bread I would get hot flushes, if I’m lucky; bloating and constipation if I’m not. Now, I do not get either of those…

  31. Been making and eating sourdough bread for at least ten years. Making bread with prepackaged yeast is certainly easier and more convenient but it is not healthier than 100% sourdough bread. And use mostly whole grain, preferably from grinding at home. A little unbleached, unbromated white flour, maybe 20% of the flour used will help with the rise but it is not necessary.

    If you make three loaves at a time and stick a couple in the freezer you will have the world’s healthiest bread all week. And when you feed your starter don’t discard the old starter. Rather, make a bread cake in a skillet and have it with some fruit and a touch of syrup. It cooks up just like pancakes.


  32. B12 question:

    Hello everyone and thanks in advance for answering.

    I have been making sourdough bread for about a year now with a starter that I made in my apartment. About a month ago, my wife and I were convinced to go vegan (mainly by “forks over knives”). One of the biggest concerns of the vegan diet that we have read on just about every single source is getting enough B12 without animal.

    I have heard a lot of people guess or surmise or hope that there might be B12 in sourdough – do we really know for sure? Are there any studies or anything reliable that anyone can point me to? I wonder how one would go about testing in the absence of any reliable studies…?

  33. We make sourdough starter in Iran by mixing a cup of flour with a little water and make paste( better not to be so soft) adding some drops of vinegar or something acidic like lemon juice to it and let it rest for one or two days in warm place for faster fermentation(room temp is also ok) it should be covered
    You often see increase size change in one day
    After change size and smelling yeast and acidic flavor it is ready

  34. I don’t care what any one of you profess …all I know is I love sour dough bread and as long as I eat it sparingly I will eat it because I love it. I fell that anything that has “sour” in it’s name must be a pro-biotic and that is what I need.

  35. I am so so SO very happy to have discovered traditional 100% sourdough bread and I am so thankful for this information because it finally explains what I am experiencing since I’ve started eating sourdough bread! I try to eat clean (gluten-free & low diary) and workout and run practically everyday but I have never seen a tangible drop in pounds. Over the last 2 weeks, life has gotten so busy that I have not been able to exercise at all but I did start incorporating 2 slices of 100% sourdough bread into my diet (1 for breakfast & 1 at night before bed which I know is a no-no in the case of carbs). But amazingly I have lost weight! I have lost 5 pounds, which I know isn’t a big number but its HUGE for me because I have not lost any weight in years!!! And all I have been doing differently is no exercise and eating 2 sourdough slices a day! Once again, thank you for this info. I believe we are doing a great thing by tapping into the benefits of biblically-concepted sourdough bread!!

  36. I have a question
    I have four children (Oldest is 13 and youngest is 2 ), I have never made sourdough bread before but I really want to give it a try.
    If I mess this up, will it be visibly identified as messed up?
    The underlining question is will I make my children sick if I messed up and they ate it not knowing that something went wrong with the process.
    I have made bread and buns by hand many times but I have always used store bought “traditional” yeast that comes in a jar. I am scared to try feeding a bacteria and then eating it, what can go wrong if anything?

  37. I would like to share an experience that I have repeated many times. I am passionate about breads, focaccia and pizzas produced with Sourdough. For years I have made my own breads, almost daily.
    One day, I took a piece of the crumb of one of my loaves that I baked at 230 degrees Celsius and placed in a small bowl with very little water. I repeated the operation for a few more days and surprisingly got a new sourdough, which I also use to make breads because it tastes amazing.

  38. It just annoys me a little bit to read some of the comments here. My theory about whether baked bread has some bacteria in it, is, well, how did the yeast get in the sourdough starter in the first place? The wild yeast is doing the job, eating the starch contained in the flour. Now, baked bread still has starch in it, and ever since you expose the slices to the air, especially when they are cold, isn’t it reasonable to say that bacteria and yeast would start to be on the slices of bread? Talk about leaving the bread outside until it gets moldy and rotten! So the baked bread in itself would reasonably not contain any bacteria, since they would all be killed in the baking process. The AIR carries them. Possibly introduced them to the cold bread crumbs. That’s why to some extent you can make sourdough starter from pieces of bread. Or, like some people, they make alcoholic beverages (with bread being one of the key ingredients).

  39. Love this article! Are there sources for these claims?
    I was shocked to read in “Classic Sourdoughs” by Ed and Jean Wood that “there is usually little difference between sourdough’s health benefits and the benefits of recipes with the same ingredients baked with commercial yeast.” Surely this is not true…

  40. Hi, I made a trip last month to Italy to try different kinds of breads made with natural yeast. I decided to bring home a crumb of one of these breads that I ate in Bologna. When I got home, I put the crumb in a container with little water, covered with plastic film until the first bubbles. Day by day I fed with flour. After a week the result was spectacular and resulted in a strong natural yeast. To test I made some breads and flavor looked very similar to what I ate in Italy.

  41. hi folks
    A few points I wanted to add to the great discussion already on here is that’s the proof of life of the active bacteria comes from the fact that the bread becomes more sour with each passing day.
    In Mumbai where I live the ambient temperature is about 28 C. Therefore the stater takes 4.3 hr to achieve bubbly /floating condition. Then another 5-6 hours more for dough to bread. Sometimes retarding in the fridge overnight helps.
    I think that this bread is surely pro botic !! The umami proves that protein based amino acids abound in the bread like in Parmesan, chicken breast, mushroom and the like !

    1. Some experts say the sourdough cultures are beneficial for the condition and others doubt its okay. Seems like your choice is to try it and see or check in with the health practitioner that diagnosed your condition.

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