Friday, June 29, 2012

Natural Yeast Spelt Bread; Update

      I met Caleb Warnock a couple months ago at Vita Health food store in Bountiful.   It was a chapter meeting of the Salt Lake Weston A. Price Foundation.  Caleb was the guest speaker.  He is an urban farmer in Alpine, Utah and has written a book called "The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency".  He is from pioneer stock and remembers both set of grandparents doing "serious" gardening and canning.  He grew up taking for granted the bounty preserved by his grandparents not realizing that with his parents generation, those skills would soon be forgotten as life-style changes took root in my generation.   He talked about farming and seed preserving and canning and I was most interested.  Fermenting is part of those kinds of skills that I am trying to cultivate and learn myself.
     My attention really picked up when he asked how many of us made some sort of sourdough bread.  Half the attendees raised hands, me included.  Then he asked if our bread was sour and again most of nodded , yes.  He then boldly declared that he has a natural yeast that does not make bread taste sour.  I was immediately interested.   My husband will not eat my sourdough bread....he says he will when he has to and there is nothing else.  I was excited because if I could master the art of a natural rising bread without the sour taste, I would have a winner in my household.

     I have successfully made a  "sourdough" bread with his yeast that has very little sour taste and my husband will eat it!   This bread is also moister and has great texture. The benefits of natural yeast bread are; 1. with a long soak which is in the raising time, the phytic acid  is neutralized.  Phytic acid is natural to all seeds, nuts and is a plant defense that inhibits animals from eating the seeds.  When eating grains,nuts and seeds we need to work around this natural defense because when phytic acid is consumed, it binds the minerals in the seeds so that we cannot access them.  2.  the long raising helps to start the break-down process of the starches of the grain, from complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates or sugars which is easier for our systems to digest....takes the "pressure" off our pancreas, 3.  the natural yeasts need time to help deconstruct the starches and the proteins or lectins like gluten, again making grain  more digestible.  By weakening the gluten, we get an easier protein to digest but a more delicate structure to the bread.  Natural yeast will raise bread but not to the standard "fluffiness" of the bread industry with it's synthetic yeasts which came to market in 1984 says Caleb Warnock.  Quick rise, synthetic yeasts do none of the work in bread making that natural yeast does.

So, if you are interested also in his "natural yeast"  email him and ask for some grains.  There will be a fee.

     Mr. Warnock  claims that a lot of the  gastrointestinal problems people are having today from bread, is because of the switch from natural yeast to synthetic.  I would add  that wheat has been  hybridized  many times within the last 70 years and that hybridization increased the crop yields and increased the proteins, which made everyone happy especially 3rd world countries.  However, those super proteins in wheat are not as easily digested as the proteins or lectins from the heritage or ancient wheats, like spelt and kamut and others.  Synthetic yeast in commercial and home baked bread, combined with  super lectins that can't be digested and we have some serious "gut" and health problems in our population with a very basic food.  Also add  over-use of wheat starch by the food industry in many common prepared foods and you can begin to appreciate why the "staff of life"  has become a poison for many, many people

Allow 8 hours total raising time.

3 1/2 -4 cups  whole spelt flour, or whole wheat or sprouted spelt or wheat flour.
1 cup chlorine free water (chlorine kills microbes even friendly ones)
1 1/2 tsp. Real Salt or other high mineral salt
1 TBS  ghee (clarified butter or butter or coconut oil or olive oil)
1 TBS  honey or agave nectar  or other sweetener
1 cup natural yeast starter

     The most important thing I learned from Caleb's new baking book feed the starter often; twice a week minimum!   This is the mistake I made with my sourdough starter and many other newbies make.  I would feed my starter maybe once every 2 weeks and I didn't pour off the "black water" gathered at the top of the starter, I mixed it in.  He says don't do that, ( makes it too sour).  He suggests getting into the habit of  feeding your starter twice a week a whole month before even trying to bake bread.  I have selected Wed and Sat. to feed my starter.  The excess dough this produces can be frozen, thrown away or made into quick pancakes or muffins but not bread....not yet....not until the starter is sufficiently light and bubbly.  I keep my starter in fridge between feedings and when it is healthy, it only sits on my counter a couple hours after feeding and then it goes into fridge very bubbly to cool down and slow down.  Before baking bread, take starter out of cold storage and warm it up and feed it  and let it get active again in a couple hours then measure  out 1 cup for bread.

Baking Day  (or night before and let raise during sleep)

  In the morning, measure out flour and water, salt, honey, and fat and stir down starter before measuring out 1 cup of it and mix all together.  Cover with a damp towel and set in a warm out-of-the-way place for 6 hours.  This is important time for natural yeast to do it's work. If yeast is healthy and very alive, the dough will have doubled.  Clear, clean and wet a working surface.  Yes, WET!  another important thing I learned from Caleb's book.....use water not flour to work or knead the dough.  Wet your hands and keep small bowl of water close.  It's messy, but the moist bread results is well worth changing habits.  Work or knead bread for 8-10 minutes.  Let it rest for 15-20 minutes while you wash hands and grease the pans for baking. My recipe will make one large loaf but I make 4 small ones.  I do not eat very much bread so I can freeze 3 and keep one out.   Cut the dough with a serrated knife if making 2, 3, or 4 loaves.   Shape bread and place in greased pans.  Pat a little more water or spray water on the top and allow to raise another 2 hours.
Bake at 350 degrees   25  minutes for little loaves maybe 40-50 minutes for 1 large.   Mr. Warnock suggests inserting food thermometer into loaf to the bottom to get a reading of at least 180 degrees when done or a hollow sound when thumped.  Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.  The steam will continue cooking the inside of bread.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kefir; the Diffierence between Pasteurized Milk Kefirs and Raw Milk Kefirs

This is one of the most common questions I got at the Lds Holistic Living Conference last Saturday, June the 23rd.   I sell both kinds of kefir grains or pearls.  The raw milk kefirs I sell in jars have about a tablespoon of the grains/pearls in milk and they are frozen.  These you can see when you do your first batch of kefir with them.  I originally got these from a woman from Heber, Utah  about 3 years ago.  She didn't have the geneology of their origins, but they worked well for me and the raw milk I was able to buy at Real Foods Market here in Orem.   She no longer is active in producing them or selling them.
The pasteurized milk kefirs I got from a friend (Donna, who was my assistant that day)  who only has access to pasteurized milk; and she got hers from a friend and they have been working well for her in turning even pasteurized milk into a health food.  However, the grains are very small and haven't developed the clumps that the raw milk kefirs do.  But,  with continued use they do get bigger.  If you bought one of the pasteurized kefirs, be careful with your first batch and gently jiggle the strainer to separate the tiny grains from the kefir.  That last ounce of  lumpy but soft, clotted milk in the bottom of your strainer will have the small grains in it and carefully scoop them out and plop them back into another quart of milk or place them back into small jar and fill with milk and refrigerate them.  Over time, they will get bigger.  Use a fine mesh, stainless steel strainer, if holes in your strainer are too big you will loose all the grains. It is not at all harmful to eat the grains but you want to collect them to keep the process going.

It is KEFIR if after 18 to 24 hours sitting at room temp. the milk will "gell" and pull away from the side of the jar when tilted and the kefir does not taste sweet but slightly sour because the microbes or grains have consumed most of the milk sugar or lactose.   You will have successfully turned pasteurized milk ( a so so product) into a super, pro-biotic food!

Remember, when you leave on vacation for longer than 5 days, just put kefir grains in a small amount of milk and freeze them.  Thaw and start over when you return.

Now, if your grains do not do the job for you, please contact me and I will help you solve the problem or replace the grains.  Contact me at email address in my heading. Thanks to all who bought products from me and to those who were in my classes. I had such fun! It is a lot of work, but it was way fun meeting so many wonderful people.

Friday, June 1, 2012

I Sell Live Starters

I am in Orem, Utah and I sell live kefir, kombucha, water kefir, sourdough starters.  I can mail them if close to Utah.   Email me at and we can arrange a pick-up and drop off time.  I will give you my address and phone number  by email.  Kefir and Kombucha starters are $10.  Sourdough are $5.