The Showcase Magazine - Articles

Sourdough Journey

By Monica Giglio

When I meet a challenge, I want (or need) to conquer, I keep at it, sometimes obsessively ‘till I achieve a realistic knowledge or skill level. 

A few months ago, I dedicated myself to learning the ancient art and science of sour dough bread making and this has become my challenge for 2019, as my Facebook friends know from my regular posting of bread pictures! 

Years ago, I drastically cut my consumption of breads and wheat products and felt immediately better! I stopped buying and eating not only breads, but cookies, cakes and crackers. The improvement in my “super sensitive gut” as my GI Doctor calls it, was so tremendous that although tests never confirmed it, I was sure I’d had a gluten sensitivity. My diet became high protein, low carb, and I didn’t miss wheat products, mostly because I occasionally allowed myself to indulge in fresh breads served at restaurant before dinner. However, my love of salads and fresh veggies was another nemesis to my “super sensitive gut” that I was not willing to give up! 

Over time my diet changed again from heavily animal protein based to almost Vegan! Along the way I attempted to follow the “no sugar - no grain” way of eating but found it unsustainable when I’d given up all meats, fish and eggs; my former staples. One night, after almost blacking out from gut pain and waking up on my bathroom floor, a visit to my GI Doctor reminded me that the heart-healthy, high-roughage choices I’d been making my whole life were making my “super sensitive gut” very angry! Furthermore, since forgoing meat products, she hinted that perhaps I had too many lactose-based products like cheeses in my diet; previous tests had confirmed my intolerance for such things. It was time for another dietary re-set! I eliminated dairy as well as most high sugar fruits and vegetables, and re-introduced salmon and tuna into my diet. 

Strangely I do not miss meats or cheese much at all, but the delicious aroma of toast in my kitchen had become something I occasionally pined for. So, when learned that Sourdough fermentation cuts the gluten composition of grains like wheat in a way that makes them more acceptable to the gut than yeast breads, my interest was piqued. Somehow the Sourdough fermentation process opens up the mineral content, making grains more readily absorbable and easier to digest. This is an important differentiation from commercial yeast breads. Sourdough is NOT empty calories - it’s good nutrition! 

Luckily for me, artisan Sourdough craft is trending, providing many opportunities for learning this ancient art and science. It’s not simply a recipe to be followed, it’s an entire process that each artisan must experience, do, and feel with their own hands. Like music and art, one can become a life-long student of this craft and find there is still much more to learn!

When I realized I’d been humming an old song I learned in 4th grade to the tune of “Clementine”, I remembered the legend and name of an Alaskan gold miner which remained latent until now. The song I was humming was “Sourdough Charlie” and I suppose I have him to thank for the earliest beginnings of my Sourdough journey!