Blog_FindingRealSourdoughAmiaPurist_09.18.14_Shannon_1

We used to live in an area that had deep real food roots. The farmer’s market was huge and there were several in the area. Farmers came in from all around to sell their goods to grocers, restaurants, and home cooks. I took my baby and toddling sons – now 6 & 8 – to a farmer’s co-op every Friday to pick up fresh meat, milk, eggs, and any produce they had. I knew most of those farmers by name.

At those Friday co-op pickups we also used to be able to source sourdough bread from a local artisan baker. Rye or whole wheat, these were tangy and dense and nourishing loaves. He even taught a sourdough class I attended one evening when I first started baking with sourdough.

We now live in a more rural area, ironically, and I’ve found it very difficult to find real food. We’re producing more of our own, but those artisan producers and small farmers are sorely missed. I’ve looked everywhere in our area for real, true sourdough bread and I’ve yet to find it. Maybe I have too high of standards, but those loaves and bags claiming sourdough on the label just aren’t it.

Here’s what I’m looking for…

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Minimal Ingredients.

Flour, water, and salt are really all the ingredients you need for good sourdough. I’m open to adding eggs and fats and such, but no preservatives or additives, please.

No Commercial Yeast.

I know commercial yeast works well to help raise sourdough loaves, but this often equates to a shorter rise time which eliminates the long and slow fermentation process that makes sourdough so nourishing. It does take time, but then most good food should.

Handmade.

Maybe I’m cynical, but I don’t trust food that comes from any kind of factory. The smaller, the better in my mind. And I’m willing to pay a little extra if it means supporting someone who is creating real, traditional foods like sourdough bread, and trying to feed their family in the process.

Alternative Grains .

This is least important, but I always appreciate something a bit out of the ordinary. A nice dense loaf of 100% rye or pumpernickel or oat-rye or spelt or einkorn. It’s not mandatory but it sure is interesting.

So far I have scoured the nearest 30 miles and found nothing that could be called real sourdough, which leaves me to my rye sourdough starter, a mixing bowl and a bit of time in the kitchen. Sourdough baking is so fun and interesting with its nuances and magical abilities that I don’t mind a little bit of time spent with some bubbly starter.

But it would be nice to see a loaf labeled sourdough and not be disappointed every time I read the label.