Friday, July 30, 2010

Watermelon Juice for Kidney Flush

Isn't that a beautiful mess? I just love kitchen still lifes. A few weeks ago, I got results back of my annual blood test. I take bio-identical hormones, and blood tests are essential for annalyzation and prescription of these marvelous medications. Besides all the hormone readings, I get a lipid panel and glucose reading and it also has some other test numbers like the function of kidneys. Kidneys produce this protein ,called creatinine that is washed out with wastes. If it accumulates, then kidneys are not doing their job well. My creatinine level has been slowly going up over the last 3 years and this time it was 1.06 which is over the safe level, so Francine told me to do a kidney flush. I "googled" kidney flush and came up with several ways to do it, and watermelon juice and watermelon seed tea were some of the suggestions. The general idea for a kidney flush is to drink a lot of liquid, water and various teas to "flush" the kidneys.

For 2 weeks now I have been drinking a lot of liquid...more than a gallon each day. It has been suggested by health officials that a good way to judge or measure your optimal amount of liquid is to drink half your body weight in ounces. At 140 lbs, that would mean 70 ounces for me. A gallon is 128 ounces and I am averaging 136 ounces a day much more than my ideal amount but this is a 3 week "flush". Watermelon juice has been part of that. I was surprised how good watermelon juice tastes and how refreshing it is. I bought the old fashioned seeded watermelons and put all except rind, in my blender and processed on high speed. In the photo, you can see a strainer that is collected the watermelons seed pieces. I put the strained pieces in a separate container and once a day take about 1/4 cup of it and add 2 cups boiling pure water to get the watermelon seed tea. The juice gets put in the fridge. Some of the other liquids I have been drinking are....

1. lots of pure "prill water" all the liquids listed here and everything we drink is made with this "prill water" ( city tap water processed in glass gallon container with a bag of "precious prills" which are magnesium crystals...check out )
2. celery seed tea
3. my own brewed Kombucha (see previous blog) and water
3. green drink ( prill water and chard and other greens from my little garden processed in blender)
4. Kefir own cultured kefir from raw milk blended with fresh fruit and watered down.
5. peppermint tea
6. lemon tea

This is a crazy list but I've been drinking this for two weeks. I also ate 3 meals a day, no carbs but fruit, lots of fresh vegetables, maybe one slice of my sourdough bread and meat, eggs and dairy. I didn't eat snacks between meals.... too much liquid. I was really surprised that I could drink that much, but then I am at home and so urinating often wasn't much of a problem either. Couldn't do this during school teaching. Friday, July 29 I went back to Utah Health and Wellness Center ( bio-identical hormones with Francine Weiss) for another blood test to see if all of this worked. I will update when results are back.

Update; Aug. 11, 2010

It worked! just got blood test back and that kidney protein, creatinine, dropped....from 1.06 which is high to .93 ! So, all that drinking worked. I may have overdone it some, I figured that I was drinking on average 136 ounces a day! A gallon is 128. I'm going to drop to about 90-100 ounces a day.
Some other body chemicals also corrected themselves like chloresterols dropped from 251 (high) to 200 (still high but 199 is upper limit). LDL dropped from 179 (high) to 129 (still high). All this by drinking more and........I did make an effort to move more and quicker. I don't belong to gym but walk in the morning with neighbors.

I highly reccomend this Lady and her clinic for bio-identical hormones:

Dr. Francine Weiss
Utah Health and Wellness
Hormonal Alignment Center
386 E. 720 South
Orem, Utah 84058

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kombucha; Green tea plus!

This is the stuff that got me into fermenting. Our basic diet is and has been for 5 years, the Blood Type Diet by Dr. Peter J. Dadamo. On the food list for O type Gatherers was this beverage called Kombucha. I went to HFS local to us, Good Earth, and asked. They showed me a commercial brand of Kombucha with many different colors and flavors. I liked it very much. I researched Kombucha and found that it contains these beneficial bio-acids, enzymes, vitamins and live probiotics and it is a high ph product. I was excited. I also found out that you could do it, ferment it yourself and save money. At the time, my immune system was not functioning well as I had come out of a bad winter with flu, then pneumonia and antibiotics which kill off the bad microbes and the good ones too. I was looking for anything that could boost my immune system without taking the probiotic supplements or the commercial yogurts. Kombucha seemed to me a natural remedy. It wasn't until summer of '08 when a cousin of my husband's gave me a Kombucha start, that I considered doing it myself. She showed me how easy it was and I decided to give it a try. I've been brewing and fermenting ever since.

I have 3 glass jars that I rotate which produces between the 3 of them, more than a gallon and a half of Kombucha, which is too much for me to consume. I keep trying to get my husband to drink more but he doesn't so I give quarts away to my friends....those brave enough to try it and find it useful. I also like to give away starters to anyone interested. Kombucha has a long history going back to the ancient Chinese and Russians and is known by other names. There are many websites that have lots of information, processes and that sell starter kits. I have looked at a few and have learned so much. My procedure and process is pretty basic but it works well for me and my home. What you will need....

1.Large glass jar that can hold 3 liters to a gallon. My recipe is based on one that large. If using smaller glass containers, reduce the ingredients.

2.Green tea bags, 5 for my jar. I use decaf green tea as this complies with my religion's standard against drinking coffee and tea a bit better than the caffinated tea.

3. Starter; a piece of the "mushroom" and some Kombucha with live microbes about 1/4 cup or more. ( The mushroom is a gelatinous material the microbes make when they are alive and happy which grows at the top of the liquid in your jar. It will grow to fit the size of the jar. It protects their environment and keeps the bad microbes out.)

4. Sugar, about 3/4 cup for about a gallon of tea. I use white sugar. It was in my food storage just sitting there taking up space and I did not use it for anything we eat so I was happy to feed it to them. It makes them happy and they grow and produce wonderful, healthy things with it.

5. Paper cover to write the date on and elastic band to keep it in place at the top of the jar. I use those paper coffee filters.

6. Warm place out of direct sunlight and away from moldy food contamination. In the winter I use an old heating pad on low to set my bottles on and I wrap them with towels to insulate. In summer I do the same if air conditioning is on. 75 to 90 degrees is ideal for them.

7. A fine mesh stainer, stainless steel is Ok.

8. Glass jars to put Kombucha in.

9. Water; it has to be pure and chlorine free. Chlorine kills pathogens and also kills lacto-bacillius and other friendly microbes. A couple of ways to get chlorine out: 1. let water sit for 24 hours, covered with only a clean cloth or 2. boil it and let it sit and cool for about an hour.

We use water that has been treated with "Precious Prills" ( magnesium crystals) which raise the ph of the water, gets the chlorine out and restructures the water to it's best hexagonal form for "wetter water". Did I say that this is a high ph tonic? Yes, and you know that anything with a ph of 8 or higher is really, really good for you. Good, friendly microbes like lacto-bacillus have to have an alkaline environment like our body cells. The bad guys thrive in acidic conditions as does cancer. Keep your water higher than 7, fruits and veggies are alkaline also, and we need to eat them in abundance because they balance the acidic foods; dairy, meat, legumes, sugar and grain. Kombucha will help your system alkaline.
Process: Make/brew tea. You don't have to boil all the water that fits your container, just a portion of it. Place tea bags, free of those strings and labels, in boiling water, cover and let sit for an hour or more. I have been playing with green tea that has fruity flavors and it is a nice change. I keep the ratio 1: 3. One bag fun, fruity flavor and 3 bags regular decaf green tea. When tea has steeped and is cool, gather up the bags and squeeze dry and throw away. Add sugar and stir. Pour into jar and add more pure water and then add the starter with piece of mushroom or "scooby", as it is affectionately called.

Paper cover the jar and secure with elastic. Before you do this, write the date and amount of sugar and number of tea bags so you will know for the next batch. Set in your warm, out-of-the-way place and let it ferment. You should notice bubbles and the mushroom at the top start to form. After a few days there will be some "floaties" in the solution and that's OK. You might notice some "brown stuff" hanging down from the mushroom and that's normal too.

After about 7-9 days, taste the Kombucha pushing the mushroom aside using a straw or spoon. If it is still sweet to taste, it hasn't fermented long enough and if it is really sweet with no mushroom formed, then the microbes are dead. However if you don't mind consuming sugar, you can "decant". I find that 11-12 days is just right for me. It tastes zippy and not sweet. If you let it go longer, it will start to taste "vinegary". There is a small amount of alcohol produced in this fermentation like .2%. If you are familiar with wine it can run from 11-12 % alcohol. Beer and ale runs 5-7 % so .2% is minuscule. For this reason I do not ferment fruits; too much sugar and the bacteria produce more alcohol than lactic acid.

Decanting; This is fun. I love to "fork out" the mushroom and place it on a clean plate. It really is a miracle how it is formed. You can eat the mushroom; it has a rubbery texture and not much taste. Use a large bowl with a strainer that fits it and pour Kombucha through the strainer. It catches some of the "floaties".

Fill other clean jars and put in fridge. Separate the mushroom and keep the newer one that grew on top of the starter piece. Keep about 1/3 cup of the Kombucha at the bottom to start another batch. The mushroom or "scooby" can be cut to shape with knife or scissors and the rest throw away. If you want to keep mushrooms, they keep well in a zip lock bag with a little Kombucha liquid. Putting Kombucha in the fridge will slow down the microbes but they will still keep working and you may see in a few days more "floaties" as they prepare to make another mushroom.

I drink about 4-6 ounces a day and I put 2 ounces in my 20 ounce water bottles. My husband when he does consume Kombucha will put it in his pineapple juice in the morning. You can drink it strait or dilute it with water or juice.

In the 2 years I have been making my own Kombucha, I have not been really sick. I have not had the flu or severe colds or sinus infections that have plagued me for many years and I am still teaching public school 9 months of the year around sick kids. I do not use drugs or vacines. I could be wrong, but I believe this tonic has had a powerful effect on my immune system. Others in my neighborhood whom I have given this tonic to, say they feel a boost in energy. One man is recovering his health, devestated by various parasites, viruses and bacteria by using Kombucha and other natural protocols.
Making Kombuch is a fun hobby with healthy benefits. You can get a start from me if you live in the Utah County area and attend one of my fermenting seminars held at Real Foods Market on 800 North, Orem west of State Street. I am scheduled for 2 seminars this fall. Sept. 11 at 1 pm and Nov. 13 1 pm. Or... order online at any one of a number of websites that do this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut; the real thing

This is the easiest and tastiest way to preserve cabbage and get that all satisfying lactic acid, cabbage juice, which tastes kinda like vinegar but isn't. Lactic acid is much more satisfying and healthful and not as "sharp" as vinegar. This process comes from Sally Fallon's book, "Nourishing Traditions". I tried the large-ceramic-crock-container with plate-and-stone-on-top version and it sometimes worked and most times didn't. This process works every time I've tried it and it's easier.
You will need...

1 head of cabbage organic or from your garden
1-2 clean, wide-mouth quart jars
3-4 TBS whey from yogurt ( see previous blog about lacto-fermentation)
1 TBS Real Salt or other natural, high mineral salt
chopping board, large knife, meat pounder, spatula to fit quart jars and large plastic or glass bowl

According to Sally Fallon, this making of sauerkraut goes back in time indefinitely and sometimes involved the whole village or family. Lacto-fermented vegetables were a staple in the diets of our ancestors. They didn't realize they were nurturing friendly, tiny, living organisms, they just followed old, handed-down traditions and got foods that tasted great and were very health promoting and would sustain them through the winter.

The first step is chopping and it is just messy. If you do this right, cabbage will fly all over and on the floor and counter...everywhere. Don't try to coral it and be tidy, just chop, cut and slice. Don't chop the core, just through it away. Clean up later.

As you chop and cut, load the bowl and sprinkle about a third of the tablespoon of salt over it. Chop some more, layer the cabbage and salt. Do this until the cabbage is mostly in the bowl. All the salt should be in the cabbage. Pounding the cabbage with the meat pounder will start the juice to flow. With a large spoon scoop the cabbage into the wide-mouth quart jar. Use another tool like a spatula to pound and chop the cabbage further. You want the cabbage to fit very tight in the jar with salty juice submerging it. My black, heavy meat pounder fits the wide-mouth jars so I use that and a spatula to further break down the cabbage.

The cabbage I had today was really big so I was prepared with a second jar. My pounded, salted, chopped, cabbage filled one jar but partially filled another jar. For the lacto-bacillus to work it's magic, it needs to be under the salty water with very little exposure to air and oxygen. Cabbage coming from the garden will naturally have lacto-bacillus bacterium on it even when rinsed with plain water and this cabbage should ferment just fine, be sure we add the 3-4 tablespoons of whey which have living lacto-bacillus in it. The whey can be added as you are pounding the cabbage in the bowl or in the jar. Bottles should be filled to within 1 inch of the top and then sealed with the rubber lined lid and band.

To "seal" my second, partially filled jar, I found that using a "scooby", or mushroom from my Kombucha does the trick very well. I ferment green tea called Kombucha. (In the above photo, the "scooby" is in the dish on the cutting board. It is a gelatinous material made by the microbes to protect their environment) The synergistic microbes of Kombucha are different from the lacto-bacillius used in fermentation but they seem to be compatible. The "scooby" grows to fit the inside of the jar. I think they feed on the sugars in the cabbage juice. They tolerate the salt as well as the lacto-bacillus.

I'm placing the "scooby" in the partially filled jar then I tighten a lid like the other jar.

These jars will sit at room temperature for 3 days and allow the bacillus to grow, then they will go into cold storage for at least 3 weeks. Label the jars with date.
Lids should be tight otherwise during the 3 day incubation, liquid will seep out. Vegetable ferments can be opened and eaten withing 3 weeks of cold storage and should be completely consumed by 2 months after opening. Unopened cold storage vegetables can be stored for several months I am told but have not let mine go that long. After 3 weeks I cannot wait any longer; they are opened and eaten.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I practice the art of lacto-fermentation. This is not about making wine or beer it's about preserving vegetables, the old, traditional way with lacto-bacillus bacterium. Our ancestors didn't know they were using microscopic life forms to make their sauerkraut, pickled beets, dill pickles , etc, they just followed ancient family recipes and processes and got really good tasting and nutritious food. According to Sally Fallon, author of "Nourishing Traditions", all cultures, all peoples everywhere, had some form of lacto-fermented vegetables. They also had some sort of cultured dairy products, soured breads and fermented beverages.

I started fermenting tea, decaf green tea. It's called Kombucha or mushroom tea. I have been doing this for 2 years and really enjoy it. I believe it has helped, boosted my immune system. Kombucha led me to Sally Fallon's book and I started "pickling" or fermenting vegetables. Sauerkraut was the easiest, next was beets and I have added carrots. Lacto-fermentation with the lacto-bacillus bacteria produces lactic acid which is a food preserver. The metabolism that takes place when the bacteria are consuming vegetable sugars, (or with Kombucha, regular white sugar) also produces enzymes and other bio acids besides, lactic acid, which are incredibly good for human consumption. Vitamins are also produced. Vitamin C is one of them and for this reason ancient mariners and warriors usually packed barrels and barrels of sauerkraut or other preserved and fermented foods.

My husband and I have greatly benefited from these fermented vegetables. But where do you get the friendly bacteria? Well, they are everywhere especially from the earth, the garden produce you bring in has lacto-bacillus all over it. They can be killed by high temperatures (over 116 degrees) or with chemicals. You can also get them from cultured dairy products. Lacto means lactose or milk sugar. Once the lacto-bacillus get started in a culture, milk, chopped cabbage, beets, etc. and conditions are right for them and they reproduce, the bad, spoiling bacteria have no foothold and they dwindle. Lacto-bacillus are very tolerant of salt which also discourages the bad bacteria. The fermenting process does produce some alcohol but with vegetables it is really minuscule. You can use the same bacteria with fruit, but the higher sugar content of fruit produces more alcohol and less lactic acid and that is why I do not ferment fruits. I find that the lactic acid produced satisfies my taste much better than vinegar. I used to consume a lot of pickles but all that vinegar just pulled my entire system down making my more acidic than I needed. Naturally produced lactic acid has the opposite effect. Vinegar now tastes too sharp and I avoid it.

For my vegetable ferments I now use whey from goat milk yogurt. I have found a brand of goat milk yogurt "Drake", from So. Jordan in Salt Lake County) that has very satisfying and sour lactic acid in it and I strain a quart of that every week to get the lacto-bacillus rich whey and that's what I use to ferment a lot of my kitchen products. You can use plain yogurt from cow milk but the "commercially" produced yogurts don't have enough lactic acid for my taste. They do consumer research and find that the general population does not like yogurt or kefir
to be sour tasting so they don't let the bacterium do their "thing" for enough time and then they fill the yogurt with "gums" and other thickening agents and super sweet syrups so the end product doesn't really resemble real yogurt at all.

To strain whey from yogurt you will need a large metal stainer with a bowl big enough to hold it. You will also need a cloth. Some kind of fabric that will hold the milk solids and allow the whey or milk water to drain out. I use a silkscreen fabric, 12xx which is 11x14". Put the fabric into the strainer and pour in the yogurt. Gather the 4 corners together and clip the short edges if needed

I have installed a hook on the underside of a kitchen counter and this is where I hang the safety pin. Put a bowl under the hanging yogurt to collect the whey. 24 hours is enough to separate the whey and the cheese. I love this goat yogurt cheese and serve it with fresh fruit and my homemade jam for breakfast. The cheese and whey are kept in separate containers in the fridge.

Lay the fabric out and scrape the cheese off the cloth. The polyester screen cloth I use washes up very quickly and dries fast and is reusable. I can sell anyone a cloth if they contact me.

The collected goat milk yogurt whey can be used for vegetable ferments, muffins, quick rise breads, soaking cereals, smoothies, salad dressings and more. You are supplementing a high protein, living liquid to your food. Just remember, that if you cook the product or bake it, the bacteria will die, which is OK really if you have given them enough time to deconstruct or digest the sugars or starches present and that alone is beneficial. If you don't heat whey but just add it to a smoothie or salad dressing, you will be getting a very nutritious, probiotic supplement to your food.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wheat or Spelt?

So, what's the matter with wheat? As a contemporary "...wheat for man"...disciple, (homemaker-of-stored-wheat-making-fresh-bread-to-obedient-and healthy) this was a serious question. That was the question I had when I first started studying the Blood Type Diet. I was willing to go off wheat as suggested by the "O" diet of Peter J. Dadamo, if there was a good reason. So, I studied and read what Dr. Dadamo had written and researched and read many other resources on the subject and this is what I learned.

The wheat today, that is so prevalent in our culture, is not the wheat of our ancestors. It has been hybridized many times to get a food grain that was resistant to pests, stood up strait and tall for the harvesters, had higher protein content, thrived on chemical fertilizers and could tolerate poor soil and water conditions. They got what they wanted. Higher crop yield and higher protein content. Third world countries were pleased, American farmers were pleased and the customer got great tasting bread and pastries, pasta etc. (Monsanto now wants to force the American and European farmer and markets to exclusively use their "improved" genetically modified wheat and get even higher crop yields which will give them a huge monopoly...which means money).

The trouble with wheat IS the higher protein content. Lectins are abundant and diverse proteins in grains found in the bran and germ. Gluten is the most notorious. Ancient wheats like kamut, spelt, rye and pre-hybridized wheat, had lectins including gluten but not in the intensity of today's wheat. These newer hybridized lectins are hard, if not impossible to digest. We are hearing more and more about celiac disease and other gastrointestinal problems of which a share of the blame lies with hybridized lectins in wheat.

There is another problem with wheat; it has some really big advantages in the food industry; first, it tastes really good, second, wheat gluten holds ingredients together... it's a "glue" ( a mighty useful property in baked goods) and third, it is relatively cheap and abundant. These advantages made wheat products irresistible to food processors in the 50s and 60s and growing numbers of customers including working women. American cuisine (and culture) dramatically changed with the creation and invention of snack foods, dry breakfast cereals, frozen dinners and other connivance foods. Huge food industries grew out of this and huge profits. Hydrogenated vegetable oil fats like shortening and margarine rose to ascendancy during the same time but that's another story. With huge advertising budgets and more women holding jobs outside of home and less time to grow, buy and cook meals at home, it worked. Fast foods and processed convenience foods found their way into the American diet so deeply and permanently that people today who have to now cut out all wheat products for health reasons, go through a "withdrawal" period that resembles "mourning", before they can begin the road back to health. The same can be said of refined sugar and hydrogenated fats. To make matters worse, the starch of wheat as a complex carbohydrate, is addictive. Ask anyone trying to quit wheat!

Hybridized super proteins and overuse of wheat starch in everything helped create gastrointestinal problems that are epidemic today. It's been a good 60-70 years since scientists started hybridizing wheat and about 40 years of processed food for convenient and fast consumption and we now have a population with varying sensitivities to either the starch of wheat or the lectins of wheat or both. Colitis, crohn's disease, celiac disease, irritated bowel syndrome(IBS) and many others can trace the cause to wheat. If a doctor suspects "food allergies" one of the first things on the list to avoid is wheat....for good reasons. There is talk that celiac disease is genetic and I don't doubt it, but what I have learned from Dr. Peter J. Dadamo, is that we do have some influence through food and life style over our gene manifestations. We can "tone down" certain genes that could spell trouble for us or, "turn up" the volume on other genes that can benefit us. So I believe it is with wheat gluten and other lectins. We can, from generation to generation intensify the sensitives of certain foods to where they become a serious problem. How long now have we been exposed to overabundant and hybridized wheat products? Think of our ancestors and how they used wheat....certainly not the overabundance of our day. Is it any wonder babies and toddlers today are coming into this world with severe allergies and sensitivities?

My personal experience with avoiding wheat products since 2005, has been nothing short of miraculous. So many of my "aging symptoms" disappeared; the greatest one being rheumatoid arthritis. I no longer have stiff, achy knees and knuckles. Yet, my two younger sisters who could not give up wheat in any sustained way, have both had knee replacement surgeries. I realize there are other factors but I am certain that had I not given up wheat, my knees would be about shot now too. Wheat lectins that are not digested, and most are not, get out of the bowel (leaky gut inflammation caused by lectins) and into the blood stream and collect in certain places in the body and cause autoimmune response from the body's defense systems that inflame and attack the lining of the joints. When wheat is absent, so the is autoimmune reaction.

For me, wheat starch is also a problem. My pancreas and other organs just do not want to do the work of breaking down that wheat starch carbohydrate and so it slowly goes through the first stages of digestion, then gets stored as fat. For me, starch equals = stored fat. I don't eat anything with corn or white potatoes either for the same reason. I'm an O blood type and that is typical for us.

Now, I can talk about spelt. It is a "wheat", an ancient wheat originally from the Mediterranean area and now grown here in Montana and other states. It is not hybridized, that I know of, so it has it's difficulties like, being more subject to grain pests, it is not as easy to harvest, and it is more expensive to hull and preserve....but it is easier to digest. It still has gluten but not as much or as intense as today's wheat. It also has starch and that is why even with fermentation, I still eat only small amounts. I promote spelt because of those reasons. Prairie Grain Bread Co. in Salt Lake City, makes a good spelt bread, not fermented, and sold in many stores along the Wasatch Front and I buy that for my husband. We have spelt berries and whole spelt flour in our food storage which I make sourdough bread out of. I do have regular wheat in storage and I won't throw it out. I haven't done this yet, but if I need to use wheat, I would either sprout it then cook it or dry the sprouted berries and then grind them into flour, or use the flour and sour or ferment it. The only good wheat is sprouted or fermented. The same with spelt. All grains should be handled very carefully and soaked or soured before cooking. This comes from Sally Fallon who wrote "Nourishing Traditions" and an article she wrote on the Weston J. Price Foundation website, titled "Be Kind to your Grains, and they will be kind to you". I also have purchased sprouted spelt and wheat flours online from 2 different companies and I have those flours in storage and make my sourdough bread and other baked goods from that.

If a person hasn't yet developed sensitivites for wheat the possibility is just around the corner and can be avoided if diet and life style is changed. If a person has celiac it is probably too late and all wheat should be avoided, however, sourdough bread may be tolerated. I have heard of some celiac persons tolerating a sourdough bread if made at home. It has been promoted that fermenting not only breaks down the carbohydrate starch in wheat flours but the gluten as well.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sourdough Spelt Bread

Basic Sourdough Spelt Bread Recipe

1 cup liquid, warm fully risen starter (sponge)
1 cup warm, pure chlorine free water
approx. 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour whole wheat, whole spelt, white wheat, or combinations
1 1/2 tsp Real Salt or other natural, high mineral salt
flour for kneading

Optional; 1 TBS honey or agave and 1 TBS butter or ghee

I have two glass jars in the fridge with sourdough starter in each. I prepared one to give a woman who attended my first fermentation seminar in February, but she never came to get it, so I have two that I try to keep alive by making bread. I look to see which one is slightly darker and that is the one that is the oldest. I have to allow the starter to warm up and expand and grow before making bread. I put the approx. 1 cup liquid starter in a large glass bowl and let it warm up and add 1 cup of warm chlorine free water and 1 cup flour. Today I used 1/2 cup whole spelt flour and 1/2 cup white wheat flour. I stir that around and set it in a warm place. It's July now and air conditioning is on so I heat oven on warm for only 30 seconds and turn it off and place the "sponge" with damp dish towel cover in the oven. I keep checking it every hour to see if it is bubbly and active. It may take anywhere from 2 hours to 24 hours. I got my original starter from Bonnie who lives in Heber Valley and comes to Orem to Real Foods Market a couple times a year with Sourdough starter and Keifer pearls. Starters can be purchased in health food stores in dried form, but it is better to get it from a friend. You can also nurture "wild yeasts" with some patience.

Why sourdough bread? Because it is easier to digest and more nutritious. I used to be a grind-the-wheat-in-your-storage-and-make-bread kind of woman in the 70's and 80's but then had to get back to teaching school (art) and didn't have time for bread making anymore. When I tried making my own whole wheat bread again, I had trouble digesting it. I learned 5 years ago that being a blood type O, wheat, was a number one avoid so I dropped all wheat and starchy foods all together and enjoyed a "renaissance" of health. Living without bread was tough, but I survived and thrived just fine. However, when I started studying and experimenting with soured or fermented foods, I found to my delight that I could eat sourdough bread without the ususal "lead" feeling and immediate constipation. I looked around, researched and tried a lot of different ways of making it and found one that works for me. I love to make bread again but I cannot consume all that I make, so I must give it away or sell it. I make 4 small loaves with this recipe and I freeze the ones I cannot eat. My Husband, Perry, (a blood type B) can digest regular whole spelt bread (Prarie Grain Co. out of SLC and sold in many local stores) without too much problem so he won't eat my sourdough bread. He doesn't like the sour taste although I learned that I can "tone down" the sour by adding 1 tsp of baking soda to the dough during the kneading process. He still won't eat it.

My "sponge" has been in the oven all day and it still won't get all bubbly and active and it doesn't smell yeasty so I just now added just a light sprinkle of dried yeast starter that I bought at Good Earth, health food store in Orem. It says that it is a San Franciso sour yeast. Those who really know this stuff say that every region, city or area has it's own unique yeasts and that purists can tell the difference. Well, I'm not a "purist". I am a novice at this.
If the "sponge" takes off in the next couple hours, my next step is to make bread!

I will remove 1 cup of the "sponge" and return it to the pint, glass jar, label it and return to fridge. With the remaining "sponge" I will add 3 1/2 more cups of flour, in small batches, another cup of warm chlorine free water, in batches, 1 1/2 tsp. Real Salt (natural, full mineral salt), 1 TBS. ghee and 1 TBS. honey or agave. I will mix this all thourghly and warm the oven again, cover it with damp towel and wait another couple hours or over night.

I forgot to take out one cup of the "sponge" to return to glass jar and fridge for next batch. I added 2 cups of the flour, part of the water, the ghee, the agave and the salt then remembered. What to do now? I mixed the dough and poured off one cup and returned it to the fridge. Won't know if this will make a next batch in a few weeks. I labeled it, we'll see. Meanwhile, I added back in the rest of the flour and water and mixed it together and set the bowl back into warm oven with damp towel cover. 4 hours later, the dough doubled and smelled good.

The next step is the kneading. I cleared off a counter and got the white wheat flour out and dusted the counter with it. Pouring the dough out onto this dusted surface is the messy part. Be sure to take off any rings otherwise the dough will get in and around them ....messy. Using more flour I work this sticky mess until it starts to hold together. At that point I note the clock for 10 minutes and start to knead by hand. If you don't want a strong sour flavor, add 1 tsp. regular baking soda to the flour that you dust the surface with. Soda sweetens. If you have a machine, I suppose this can be done by machine. I gave/sold my breadmaking equipment years ago when I gave up bread. I don't intend to purchase any of that again. I don't have small children or other major interruptions, so I do this by hand and it's is enjoyable. After 10 minutes of "playing around" with the dough, it feels alive and is" springy" and holding together. The gluten is doing it's job; holding things together. I divide the dough into 4 lumps ( I use 4 small loaf pans) and grease each one usually with coconut oil or ghee, and shape each loaf to fit the small pans. All 4 go back into barely warm oven with damp towel cover for another 2 to 4 hours. If the microbes are alive a well and doing their "thing", this last rising shouldn't take longer than 4 hours.

Success! Loaves are risen and rounded and ready for baking. I turn the oven onto warm for 5 minutes, then to 200 for another 5 minutes, then to 325 and the timer is set for 25 minutes.

4 Loaves, perfect! I let them cool down, remove from pans and cool some more maybe 20 to 30 minutes and then loosely pack in plastic bags for another then tie up tight and freeze. I keep one out to eat. It takes me a week to consume 1 small loaf. I still do not eat much grain and I'm careful how much grain I eat each day, But at least I can have bread again that makes me happy.

I made another batch of bread today, Tuesday, July 20 and I used that 1 tsp. baking soda option and it turned out really nice...not as sour. Some like the sour taste but for those that don't, use the baking soda. I just found Brock's blog today with great information on yeasts, wild yeasts and the history of sourdough. He does a blog for Deseret News from time to time because his interest is in pioneer foods. He researches old diarys and old cook books and tries out the recipes. I've included his link.

Note Aug. 11, 2010

The starter I saved that had some salt, sweetner and ghee in, worked! I just made a batch of bread with it and the yeasts were very much alive and the bread tastes really good. I now use the 1 tsp. soda option in each batch of bread cause it does tone down the sour taste. My bread is a little crumbly which is good because that means the gluten has been deconstructed some by the yeasts. This really is a good recipe!