If you love sourdough like I do, but you've gone on a gluten-free diet, I have the perfect treat for you–Gluten-free Sourdough Starter!
I'm convinced the gluten is a big health concern for many, but I still love good bread. And while this flax bread is one of our favorites, I‘ve been thinking about sourdough a lot since I found out that I can tolerate fermented foods.
We LOVE the tangy flavor of sourdough and I've been meaning to try my hand at making a gluten-free sourdough bread. I am now that much closer to my goal :)!}
In order to prepare myself for this post, I wanted to put myself into the shoes of someone who is gluten-free.
When most people think “gluten-free,” they think that bread is no longer an option–particularly breads like sourdough.
So in order to be able to empathize with them in their struggle to balance nutrition with their allergies or intolerance… I did some “research”.
Basically I wanted to think about what it would be like to be gluten-free.
So I ate bread.
Two pieces, actually.
With a lot of butter.
And I realized how much I would miss it if I weren't able to eat bread like this on a regular basis.
I'm not trying to rub it in anyone's face – quite the contrary! I know how fortunate my family is to be able to eat whatever we want without breaking out in hives or keeling over in digestive pain.
It saddens me to imagine what it would be like to:
– not be able to walk into my kitchen and slice off a piece of bread whenever I want
– to request the waiter to remove the basket of bread instead of refilling it
– to worry about being sick for days because someone accidentally contaminated a cooking spoon!
I understand your pain.
That's why it truly brings me joy to share with you a way to have your cake–er, bread–and eat it too.
Gluten-free sourdough, baby. Oh yeah.
Imagine capturing wild yeast out of thin air and cultivating it over a period of several days so that without any help at all, it will magically make dough rise and become a beautiful (and relatively inexpensive–) gluten-free loaf of bread.
It really isn't as hard as it sounds!
But it is incredibly healthy! Quite possibly the healthiest bread you can make!
The Benefits of Sourdough
– easier to digest (preventing issues like indigestion, etc.)
– contains the healthy gut bacteria lactobacillus (the same major player in yogurt and kefir)
– most of the phytic acid is broken down and
– won't cause a spike in blood sugar like traditional bread often does.
If that's not enough to convince you, read more about the amazing benefits of sourdough.
Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. If you click on them and make a purchase, I will make a commission.
Gluten-Free vs. Regular Sourdough
Making a gluten-free sourdough starter isn't any different than making a regular sourdough starter.
– Both start with flour and water.
– Both take a few days and both get bubbly.
– The only real difference comes when you're ready to make sourdough bread and you have to pull out all the various types of gluten-free flours.
Gluten-free sourdough starter can be made in as little as seven days using gluten-free flour, water and a medium-sized bowl. I personally have successfully made gluten-free sourdough starter with brown rice flour, but I've read others have had success with white rice flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, or even a gluten-free all-purpose blend.
Gluten-Free Sourdough Recipes
Following are a variety gluten-free sourdough bread recipes for you to experiment with. Because in all honesty, all sourdough breads – with or without gluten – are an experiment. A tasty experiment you can top with butter.
Keep in mind that every recipe will be different, calling for different types of flour and possibly using yeast. I've included several sources so that you can find something that suits you!
- Gluten-Free Brown Rice Sourdough
- Artisan Style Sourdough
- Sourdough Bread Boule
- Basic Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread
- Another Basic Gluten-Free Sourdough Loaf
- Rustic Gluten-Free Sourdough
- Sandwich Bread
- An excellent bread recipe, plus recipe adaptations in Sourdough A to Z by GNOWFGLINS
Grain-Free Sourdough & Paleo Sourdough Options
(this update is from Adrienne)
Several readers have asked if you can make sourdough starters without grains. Well, the good news, is–YES YOU CAN!
Personally, I would recommend using a blend of flours. Just as I shared in my gluten-free baking tips post, using a blend of flours tends to make baked goods turn out better when using alternative flours. I haven't tried these versions myself, but they should work!
- Do not try to make gluten-free sourdough bread with brown rice flour alone. Trust me.
- For a Paleo Sourdough Starter or AIP Sourdough Starter, just use cassava flour or tiger nut flour in place of the gluten-free grain flours.
Here are a three of the most common things that you might notice while watching your starter and what they mean:
Too Much Starter
If after a few days the starter begins to outgrow the bowl, pour some off to make a batch of sourdough pancakes. Leave at least 1/2 cup of starter in the bowl to continue feeding.
Liquid At the Top
Liquid may or may not collect at the surface of the starter. Either case is normal. (FYI: the liquid contains more lactobacillus and gives the bread its sourdough taste.)
No Bubbles – If you do not see bubbles at the top or at the sides of the starter, add a third feeding. Try to keep the feeding intervals equal. For example, 6am, 2pm and 10pm are all equally apart at 8 hours.
Boost Your Starter
One thing you can do is to add one to two tablespoons of water kefir, dairy kefir, kefir whey or kombucha in place of the water for just one feeding. Since you are adding more bacteria “goodies” to the mix, you are boosting fermentation action.
How to Make Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
Following are some images and some brief info about how to do this. Full instructions are below :).
Step 1. Combine flour (whatever gluten-free flour or gluten-free flour blend you like) and water.
Step 2. Feed the Starter
Step 3. The sponge
Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
- 1/2 cup flour
- scant 1/2 cup filtered water
Combine flour (whatever gluten-free flour or gluten-free flour blend you like) and filtered water in the bowl.
Whisk until smooth and cover the gluten free sourdough starter with a plate, leaving approximately 1/2" gap for air to circulate.
At least twice a day for the next six days, at regular intervals, add 1/2 cup of flour and scant 1/2 cup of filtered water to the existing starter. Mix until smooth, and cover.
This is called feeding the starter.
You do need to watch your starter carefully.
When your gluten-free sourdough starter is very bubbly and creates a dome on top 2-3 hours after each feeding (like the above picture), you are ready to make bread. This is often called the sponge.
I mentioned earlier that I'm leaving the bread making up to Adrienne. My pantry is simply not properly equipped with the various gluten-free flours needed to make a successful loaf of bread.
Don't Feel Like Making Your Own Sourdough Starter?
I know how it goes. It's exciting to think about doing everything yourself, but then you just might not get around to it.
If that's how you're feeling after reading this post, you can just buy this Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter and have it all done for you. Or, it would make a great back up to have in your pantry too!
(Adrienne here again. I think this is fabulous and a great jumping off point for tons of healthy creativity in the kitchen. I can't wait to work on Gluten-Free Sourdough for my family. It would be great topped with butter (if you can eat it) or Homemade Nut Butter. Mmmmmm.)
Tiffany is a frugal foodie, balancing the desire to feed her family healthy food while being a good steward of her finances. She realized it was possible to eat nourishing, traditional food on a budget if she made baby-sized changes in the kitchen. She continues to work hard at mastering real foods without going broke and shares her journey at Don’t Waste the Crumbs.
Top Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizdavenportcreative/6778890399/