Our Daily Bread, by S.W.M.

Wheat, bread and wheat products are a staple among a majority of preppers. Yet improperly prepared bread can be problematic. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance is increasingly more common among Americans. Commercial breads are known to spike blood sugars after eating it, then causing blood sugars to crash, leaving the eater hungry and fatigued. This is a particular problem with diabetics. In a majority of diets bread is often one of the first items either restricted in the diet or removed altogether, due to its contribution to weight gain.
From the internet post Naturally Leavened Bread by Jacques de Langre  the follow excerpt is found:

“With commercial yeast, rising of the dough is lightning fast, coupled with a reduction (baker’s yeast is a strong reducer), followed by a strong oxidation during the baking and often accompanied by an alkalinization. This is increased even more when a portion or all of the bran is removed. We witness here a phenomenon totally opposed to the normal laws of life. The end result of this biological decay (staling of bread), is a deficient oxidative energy that changes into a glycolysed energy, as evidenced by monster, or anarchistic, cells that are an exact duplicate of human cancer cells, according to the research of Dr. Warbourg, M.D.” 

This quick rising yeast leads to nutritional and digestive disorders. Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, heart burn and acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea and diabetes have all been associated with bread. The bran is removed to increase the shelf life of the flour but in the process removing a large portion of the nutritional value and dietary fiber. The quick rising yeast used in American baking is not a naturally occurring organism but in 1984 was created in a lab. It appears to be increasingly connected to the rather resent surge of health problems associated with wheat.
Scripture teaches us “give us this day, our daily bread”. Knowing, as a Christian, that God would not instruct us to seek out and consume a product that was harmful to our body. So my search began, why is our bread bad for us and why have so may developing sever allergies to a product that has been safely eaten for centuries. As research progressed I found that Europe has not developed the explosion of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance found here in the US. European diets have been studied because of the health benefits associated with them. What was the difference in European wheat and American? The first difference was that quick rising yeast was not used in Europe. It is easy to assume that the slow rising yeast must be the answer to our bread problem. Yet, having been to Europe, it is easy to tell that the hard crusted bread served in Europe is nothing like the soft yeasted loafs made with slow rising yeast. Historical evidence of “yeasted bread” has been found and dated to 30BC in Egyptian artifacts. Wild or Natural yeast is in the air all around us. It doesn’t come in small packets or hard bricks. It enriches the bread through the slow growth process of the yeast breaking down harmful enzymes in the grain and converts wheat into an easily digestible food that will not spike your blood sugar level. The glycemic index of is naturally lowered by the organic acids produced during the yeast fermentation (2004, Emerging Food Research & Development Report), it not only lowers the glycemic response to bread but to all carbohydrates and that response remained lower through the next meal and several hours after that. When compared to whole wheat bread, wheat with barley and white bread, they all spiked with surprisingly whole wheat bread spiking the highest, but the glycemic response from white bread leavened with natural yeast remained level.

Natural yeast also called San Francisco Sourdough Bread, is the ingredient used for sourdough bread. This should not be confused with commercial sourdough bread, which is actually quick rise bread with vinegar added for the “sour” taste. Natural yeast maximizes the nutritional availability of vitamins, minerals and the fiber in wheat. Sourdough bread is low in fat, contains no trans-fats or cholesterol and is rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, folate, thiamin and manganese.  Natural yeast also turns the phytic acid found in wheat into a cancer-fighting antioxidant. The use of natural yeast or wild yeast changes the digestive process, especially when using whole wheat. It helps slow down the digestive process, adding a “full” feeling to a meal, making it a natural way to eat less.

Naturally leavened bread can help control heartburn and acid reflux when eaten regularly. In most cases, medication used to control acid reflux can be eliminated. It has been shown in clinical trials to boost your immune system and reduce the incidence of cold and flu. Bone health is improved by the increased vitamin absorption that occurs from eating this bread. “Sourdough…enhances iron absorption and is a better source of available minerals, especially magnesium, iron and zinc” (Nutrition, 2003) Not only are blood sugars not spiked but the effect continues through at least one more meal, making this a must have prep for a diabetic. It leads to a feeling of satisfaction that discouraged weight gain.

I was now encouraged, I had found a solution to my bread problem. So I setting out to grow my natural yeast I got my crock to contain the flour and water mixture and began to grow, or so I thought. I followed the directions “to a T.” I threw away excessive starter, added the flour and water and stirred when instructed. I got some bubbles but doubling in 8 hrs, did not happen. So I went back to the drawing board, how to get a true starter growing. That’s when I found I could send off for a 100 year old culture with $2 and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Much better than the 2 sacks of flour I went through, trying to grow my own starter.

For a Mild Starter:

Original Fast Food
1221 N. 1270 E
American Fork, UT 84003

For a Sour Starter:

Oregon Trail Sourdough
PO Box 321
Jefferson, MD 21755

The starter came in the mail as expected and was in powder form. It was easily reconstituted with some flour and water. Following the enclosed instructions I had the starter doubling every 4-8 hrs and was ready to bake bread.

The first loaf was quite sour. I shouldn’t have been surprised considering it is “sourdough bread.” Remembering that it is a work in progress, I continued on with the next loaf, which was heavy and course. I read on-line sites and watched You Tube videos (Daniel’s challenge, then Bread Starter information, was very helpful link), learning how to adjust my kneading, rising and baking process. My bread has now mellowed out (with an interesting twang) and are light and fine textured. There is a reason that bread can be considered “artisan”, there is a definite art to baking bread.

The ingredient for this wonderful loaf of bread: flour, water and salt, a perfect TEOTWAWKI food. No need to worry that your yeast packets have gone bad. The starter is easy to “feed” 1 and 1/2cup of flour with 1 cup of water (not chlorinated), stirred into the container that held the starter. Just the scraping left in the jar after removing the starter for bread is enough to keep the starter culture growing. When TEOTWAWKI hits, I plan to bake bread daily but working full time, gardening and continuing to up grade my retreat left little time bake bread regularly and to throwing away the excess starter goes against my frugal nature (extra starter can be put in the compost pile, as well as old bread.) I knew I needed to find another way to control my starter and bread process.

The exploration continued and found that if the starter can be refrigerated and kept untouched for up to a week. Just let it “grow” for about 8 hours, then refrigerate. A large portion of the starter still needs to be removed and flour replenished weekly. Needing a way to utilize the removed portion, sourdough pancakes were discovered. They are easily made with sourdough starter, stirring in an egg and milk until it’s the right consistency and cook as any pancake would be made. Personally, I have not eaten pancakes in years because of the weight gain and fatigue that was suffered after eating pancakes. It also gave me a sugar rush, leaving me hungry soon after eating them. Pancakes made with the starter are different. They are a little heavier and chewier but they stick with you, even after adding syrup there is not a sugar rush and a feeling of fullness remains far longer than would be thought. The sourdough pancakes don’t absorb syrup, so a much small amount can be used and still achieve a “sweet taste”.

The starter can be thinned out even more than pancakes to make a type of a crepe and savory or foods can be spread onto them and then rolled up similar to a tortilla. The slightly sour taste adds another layer to the meal. Sweet breads can be made through natural yeast as well.