Sourdough Natural Leavening Misconceptions

If you are like most people, you did not grow up using sour dough or natural leavening in your home regularly.  Most of us would appreciate a bit of clarification when it comes to using natural leavening.  Here are some common misconceptions followed by the truth about natural leavening.

“You cannot use whole grain flour with a sourdough start.”  We’ll show you how to use all whole grains.

“Sourdough start is simply natural yeast.” The composition of Natural Leaven is not just yeast. There are many strains of bacteria and yeast that exist together in Natural Leaven.

“If I soak or sprout my grains, then I don’t need natural leavening.” Soaking and sprouting do not fully break down gluten and phytic acid.  Bacteria in natural leavening is an essential ingredient to fully break down these components.

“If you have extra starter, you should throw it out.” Actually the grain is perfectly broken down and ready to be used in all sorts of quick breads. Alternately, keep natural leavening in the fridge, give it to the chickens, or put it in your compost.

“If your start is not bubbly, it’s dead.” Actually, natural leavening can live for a long time in a cool environment or when it is dried, even if it is not bubbly. However, it is best for you and your natural leavening if you use it often.

“I don’t like sourdough, so I won’t like naturally leavened grains.” Breads do not have to taste sour to retain many health benefits.

“I can never bake spontaneously when using natural leavening.” Our Old World Natural Leavening instructions show you how to keep starter on hand for when you are ready to use it.



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  1. Sloan says:

    Just checking to see if it’s possible to get info/video/etc. of your classes if I’m out of state??

    • Amy McClean, R.D. says:

      I am happy to see your interest in natural leavening! We currently offer on-going support and written instructions to start your wheat or gluten free Natural Leaven Starter.

      The Natural Leaven Starter instructions includes recipes for quick bread, flat bread, and loaf recipes.

      Simply contact us at if you need help. Also, we will be coming out with a book in fall to share more details with you.
      Wishing you the best in this natural leavening endeavor-

  2. Julianne Spendlove says:

    I got so excited about using my natural leavening after using your new and improved instructions, that I must be telling people about it. I’ve been asked to teach how to use natural leavening in a quick “teaser” demonstration of about 5 minutes! Any advice?

    • Amy McClean, R.D. says:

      Here’s an idea, if your little lesson is about food storage:

      What is the limiting factor in everyone’s food storage? The answer: yeast. Yeast has expiration. Do you know how to make your own leavening that can be perpetuated indefinitely? Answer: You can Google how to make a sourdough start or purchase some indefinitely shelf-stable, dry natural leavening.
      Humans have used natural leavening for millenia before baker’s yeast was introduced in the mid 1800s. The natural leavening cultures ferment grain with innumerable beneficial bacteria and some natural yeast strains. You may be familiar with other fermented foods such as yogurt, keifer, or sauerkraut. Fermented foods are remarkable at colonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria and aiding in digestion. Fermented foods, like naturally leavened grains, were always plentiful on earth before refrigeration. Interestingly, many people who have issues with regular grains (such those with gluten sensitivity, celiac, diabetes) have no problem eating fully fermented naturally leavened grains.
      If you are already grinding whole grain flour, then feeding your natural leavening will only take you an additional one minute a day! Simply add flour and water and and stir, and then you’re done for the day. Leave Leaven on the counter for 1/2 a day to culture, then you can refrigerate it or use it. It’s that simple.

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