Properly Prepared Grains

Properly Prepared Grains (see online videos!)

A forgotten skill of self-sufficiency is how to make bread in a manner that best sustains human vitality. Traditional bread-making served the health of our forefathers until about 1930 (advent of commercial bread making). Unfortunately, it was not known until recently, that the natural and friendly bacteria used in traditional leavening neutralized many of today’s known harmful affects of gluten-containing grains. The commercial processes today do not employ the use of these friendly bacteria. Grain is a rich source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, iron, B vitamins, and other nutrients. The bran of grain induces peristalsis—the contracting of the intestines—to facilitate movement of food through the digestive tract. It is one of the best fecal-bulking agents we can consume, leading to smooth bowel movements and a good stool. Bran also increases the surface area of starch, facilitating a longer digestive pace that leads to more stable blood sugars, thorough digestion, and to a feeling of satiety and wellness. Unfortunately, even with so much good, at least one in five Americans suffer from grain related disorders today because of commercial bread-making processes that are unnatural. 

Symptoms include gastrointestinal complaints such as stomach ache, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, and ulcerative colitis; they also include skin complaints such as itching, eczema, hives, and acne; joint and muscle complaints range from atypical pains to rheumatoid arthritis; headaches and migraines; chronic fatigue; asthma, chronic rhinitis or sinusitis; premenstrual syndrome; hypoglycemia; depression and anxiety; and sleeping disorders. Celiac disease is a grain-related autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Eating grain can be life threatening to celiac victims.

The ADA (American Diabetes Association), AHA (American Heart Association) and other government agencies, recommend 6-8 daily servings of whole grains is necessary for optimal health. Yet, many health specialists today experience little success with their diabetic and other patients who follow standard grain recommendations. Consider what practitioners have found regarding wheat as you determine its best uses for you:

  • First, wheat contains a protein called gliadin. A by-product of its digestion is an opioid peptide known as exorphin. Exorphin bonds with opiate receptors in the brain. If not prepared properly, wheat stimulates addictive eating responses that lead to excessive weight gains and intolerances. (See Chapter Three of Original Fast Foods.) A pharmaceutical company is seeking FDA approval to sell a drug that blocks opioid receptor sites, leading to weight loss. Studies of this drug indicate that with no other changes in diet or exercise the average test subject lost 22.4 lbs over the course of 6 months, just by blocking the addictive effects of opioid peptides. 
  • Second, the carbohydrate unique to wheat has a glycemic index of 72 compared to table sugar at 59. The addictive nature of wheat is compounded when excess insulin released in response to quick absorption of this carbohydrate, carries the blood-sugars into the cellular regions of the body too swiftly. This leads to the over-production of insulin in the pancreas and to increased abdominal fat. And, as blood sugars lower too rapidly, the body releases glucagon, a hormone that causes stored sugars to be released back into the bloodstream. This leads to a yo-yo effect and to the  formation of a protein and sugar molecule that causes aging and various diseases.
  • Third, wheat also contains indigestible proteins known as lectins, which have demonstrated an ability to "unlock" normal intestinal barriers to allow undigested food particles to enter into the bloodstream (leaky-gut syndrome), which can lead to autoimmune disorders.
  • Fourth, without properly preparing wheat, hydrolysis does not occur to the phytates within wheat before it is digested. As the phytates enter the bloodstream they act as magnets which bind minerals to the phytates, blocking the the healthful absorption of minerals for use in metabolic purposes. How then do we overcome these significant problems?

Each of these problems paint a dismal picture of the staff of life. Yet, when wheat is naturally leavened, the gliadin is predigested during leavening, which neutralizes the opioid addictive effect of exorphin-- without using drugs. The sugar in wheat is pre-digested into a form that overcomes the yo-yo effect or glycation that causes aging. And the lectins are also pre-digested and do not lead to leaky-gut syndrome. Finally, hydrolysis occurs during natural leavening, which leads to the healthy absorption of minerals found in grain. What is the natural leavening of bread that does so much more to wheat than we realized when we cease leavening bread in this manner?

A study published in February 2004, in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, describes the results of a research team who sought to overcome the toxic effects of grain for celiac victims. By preparing breads using Old-World leavening techniques, the scientists fed 17 celiac victims bread without their experiencing ill effects. The natural leavening employed known strains of beneficial bacteria to leaven the bread. Researchers suggest the bacteria feed upon certain elements in the grain which cannot be digested by human digestive enzymes, such as gliadin, lectin, and the carbohydrates found in gluten-containing grains, thus neutralizing the various harmful effects associated with grain and better enabling the known benefits of grain. By employing traditional leavening techniques, they overcame each of the four known issues discussed above.

Further work with gluten-intolerant individuals, using naturally leavened bread, has been equally encouraging when it comes to the benefits of using naturally leavened breads. Without the use of pharmaceutical drugs to block opioid receptor sites in the brain, superior weight-loss results have been achieved among those who have switched from commercial whole-grain breads to naturally leavened breads. Also, many celiac victims have responded well to naturally leavened bread, and many others who suffer from various grain-intolerances. 

Steps to Overcoming Grain Intolerances
Grain Choices – Foods not believed to be harmful to those suffering from grain-related disorders include amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, popcorn, cornmeal, millet, corn, rice, oats, potato, soy, arrowroot, tapioca, sago, flax, and hominy.

Glycemic Research – When whole grains are enjoyed with leafy green vegetables, and other low glycemic vegetables, blood sugar levels remain stable—leading to stable dietary patterns and to great satisfaction at mealtime.

Dietary Lifestyle – A predominantly plant-based diet supports populations of friendly bacteria within the gut that aid in the digestion of grains; this benefit is mostly lost through diets that include high intakes of meat, sugar, fat, and alcohol.

Problem Foods – Avoid refined and processed grains; they are linked to disorders such as type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, appendicitis, arthritis, allergies, unstable blood sugars, irregular eating patterns, and so forth.

Naturally Leavened Bread Recipes – Buy or learn to make naturally leavened bread and avoid eating commercial breads. See naturally leavened bread recipes below and begin by making or obtaining an active starter.

Making NL Starter - Obtain a dry NL Starter Packet from us. See right column of this website just below the book Original Fast Foods and learn how to make Naturally Leavened Starter according to the following steps:

  • Step 1: Combine the dry starter you receive from us into blender with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Blend well and pour contents into a mixing bowl. Then add freshly ground whole wheat flour to mixture (about ½ cup) until you achieve a thick pancake batter consistency. 
  • Step 2: Allow this mixture to sit on countertop for 24 hours. 
  • Step 3: After 24 hours, add one cup of whole wheat flour and sufficient lukewarm or tepid water (about 1 cup) to maintain a thick pancake-like batter consistency. Allow mixture to sit on counter until starter becomes active (it will bubble and rise). 
  • Step 4: After it becomes active and begins to bubble and rise (could take a couple of days), add 3 more cups flour and water, making a total of 6+ cups of starter. Then, allow it to sit on counter for one or two more hours.
  • Step 5: Cover container and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it to make any of the naturally leavened bread or pancakes options below. 

It is important to grow your first starter in the stages described above. However, after each future use of the starter (see recipes that follow), reserve at least 1 cup of NL starter to grow more starter in just one step. After reserving 1 cup of fresh starter, add enough flour and water to refill container while maintaining a pancake-batter consistency. This requires adding about one cup of water to every cup of whole-wheat flour.

Preserve the freshness of your starter by making pancakes at least once a week and bread, as desired (see pancake-making instructions below). Refill container after each use, always maintaining 6 to 8 cups of starter. If you do not use your starter for long periods of time, simply refresh it twice before next use by adding another cup of flour and water to your starter. Wait an hour or so for it to bubble, then refresh it again by adding yet another cup of flour and a cup of water.

After refreshing your starter, a nice fresh aroma should replace a fairly sour aroma. Always seek for a pleasant, fresh aroma before using it to make bread. If the aroma is sour, then your bread will turn out to be sour also. Using the starter at least once a week tends to keep sufficiently fresh that it doesn't need the extra steps of refreshing, as described above. 

Making Naturally Leavened Dough (see online video here) – Place the following ingredients into a bread mixer:
5¼ cups lukewarm water
1 cup sourdough starter – see instructions above.
12-14 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
4 tsp sea salt

Add the starter, water, and salt to bread mixer and slowly add flour until the sides of the bowl become clean from all dough remnants. Then knead the dough for 10 additional minutes. Spray a large bread bowl with olive oil and transfer dough from mixer to the bowl; place a damp towel over the dough and allow dough to leaven for eight to twelve hours. Empty dough onto counter top and cut into four equal parts. The dough may now be used for making bread loaves, flat bread, braided pizza or braided fruit desserts, as per instructions below.

NL Bread Loaves (see video here) – To make a loaf of bread, add a little water to working area on the countertop and “pat” out 2 lbs of dough into a large rectangle, taking care not to stretch and break the gluten. Fold the rectangular dough along the long edge of the rectangle into thirds as you would a letter, from top to bottom. Then fold again from side to side and place dough into a sprayed loaf tin with seam side down. Cover dough with damp cloth. Allow dough to rise for 1 - 2 hours (depends upon room temperature; the warmer the room the less time it will take to rise). Place a panfull of water on the bottom shelf of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. After the bread loaves have risen to your satisfaction, they are ready to be baked. Bake bread at 450° F for 35 minutes.

NL French Toast – After making bread, as per the instructions above, cut it to desired thickness and use it as the bread in the French Toast Recipe found on page 126 of Original Fast Foods.

NL Flat Bread (see video here) – Roll out two pounds of NL dough evenly onto a jelly-roll pan that has been sprayed with olive oil or no-stick spray. Cut it into desired shapes and sizes and then allow it to sit for one hour before baking it. Bake it in preheated oven at 500° F for 12 minutes and enjoy. Enjoy plain, with jam, or sliced open and stuffed with veggies.

NL Braided Pizza (see video here) – Roll out one pound of NL dough evenly onto a jelly-roll pan that has been sprayed with olive oil or no-stick spray. Perpendicular to both long edges of the pan, cut 4”long slits in the dough every 1.5 inches, leaving an uncut strip of dough down the center of the jelly-roll pan where you will add tomato sauce, veggies of choice, pineapple, seasonings of choice, and Mozzarella cheese. After adding filling, weave 1.5 inch slits into a braid over the top of the filling. First take the top right slit and pull it across the filling and press end into second left slit; then braid top left slit to right slit number three; then braid right slit number two to left slit number four. Continue this pattern until you reach the bottom row. Pull the left slit across the bottom to prevent sauce from leaking out. Break off the slit from the right side and use it across the top of braid to prevent sauce from leaking out (see video clip linked above for complete braiding technique.) Let rise for about 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes or until cheese melts and dough is done. Place a bowl or pan of water in the bottom of the oven during baking.

NL Braided Dessert (see video here) – Follow instructions for making braided pizza, only change the filling used inside the braid accordingly: to make the filling combine one cup ricotta cheese with ¼ cup honey. Stir until smooth. Spread cheese mixture down center of bread dough. Next spread a thin layer of simply fruit jam on top ofcheese mixture,(we like marionberry jam-seedless). Sprinkle coconut flakes on the jam and then put fresh fruit on top of the coconut, (we like to put fresh blueberries and raspberries on top). Weave the dough over the filling. See directions for braided pizza. Brushthe top of the braid with a little bit of agave or another sweetener. Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes and then bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes.

NLCinnamon Rolls – Flatten 2 lbs of dough into rectangle shape. Brush melted butter on dough; sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and add nuts and/or raisins if desired. Roll dough on the long side into a log. Cut 1 ½ inch thick pieces and place on an oiled baking sheet. Let rise for 30 to 60 minutes and bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes. Place a bowl or pan of water in the bottom of oven while baking.

NL Sourdough Pancakes – We keep 5 to 6 cups of fresh NL starter in our refrigerator at all times. To make naturally leavened pancakes, combine 3 cups NL starter with 2 tbsp applesauce, ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp maple syrup. Other ingredients may also be added at this time, such as nuts or berries. Let your imagination help you to use this batter as you would any other pancake batter. Mix above ingredients well and just before cooking pancakes mix in ¼ - ½ tsp baking soda and 2½ tsp baking powder to batter. This will cause the pancakes to bubble up and rise on the griddle. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity that is caused during the leavening process of the NL starter and sweetens the batter. Adjust amount of baking soda to create the sweetness you desire.

Live Pulse Mix – In addition to the preceding bread-making, learn to make and enjoy live pulse mixes. Live pulse mixes of legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds are brought to life through sprouting and may be eaten alone, over vegetable or fruit dishes, can be made into breads, added to soups, and so forth. Making pulse isn’t complicated. Any combination of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds may be sprouted together by soaking them in water for 24 hours followed by draining and rinsing them thoroughly. Soak some dates for a couple of hours, until soft; cut them into pieces and add them to the pulse mix to add a nice sweetness. Entire mixture maybe enjoyed whole or chopped to desired consistency with a knife or the s-blade of a food processor. By adding mix to apple sauce, it will stay fresh much longer.

Muesli (see video here) – see recipe on page 131 of Original Fast Foods. When making muesli use a combination of raisins, any other fruits you desire, fresh squeezed apple juice, favorite nuts and seeds, and your choice of gluten-free grains such as amaranth, quinoa, oatmeal or oatgroats. You can mix up enough muesli to last a week. Begin by soaking your grains, nuts & seeds in water for 12 hours and then rinse them well. Be sure to maintain a ratio by volume of at least four to six times more grain than the combination of nuts and seeds. After rinsing the soaked grains, nuts and seeds, raisins, and choice of diced fruits (adjust amount to quantity of grains, nuts & seeds), add fresh squeezed apple juice and/or almond milk and cover mix. If you like cinnamon and/or nutmeg, you can also add to taste. A little goes a long ways in this mix. The mix is now ready to be placed into the refrigerator where it can remain for about a week or be eaten much sooner! Enjoy this delightful and energizing mix as a breakfast dish or at other times as a quick pick-me-up.

Wheat Berry Supreme (see page 132 of Original FastFoods)
Oatmeal Delight (see page 131 of Original Fast Foods)
Fruited Quinoa - (follow oatmeal delight instructions above;except substitute quinoa for oatmeal)
Corn Meal Cereal (see page 133 of Original Fast Foods)
Super Granola Mix (see page 131 of Original Fast Foods)
Banana Spice Muffins (see page 133 of Original Fast Foods) You can also make by substituting whole-wheat starter (see first recipe in this section) for the plain whole-wheat flour called for in the recipe.

Most all the bread-making and some of the other grain related dishes are included in the recipe videos under Properly Prepared Grains. Just click there and you can watch what we've described here in the instructions. Best!

Don't forget to ask questions and share your own favorite healthful grains below. Also, remember the place of grains in a diet; they are to compliment and to meet caloric needs that are not met by the intake of fruits and vegetables. Lean on them only as you would a staff. The overuse of grains in people and in animals includes the many grain-related disorders discussed at the beginning of this article.

The properly prepared grain videos and instructions are provided freely for your benefit. If you would like to support our efforts monetarily to provide helpful content on this website, you may do so by using the donate button that follows:


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Comment by James Simmons on March 23, 2019 at 2:43pm

I believe Kneaders offers some naturally leavened bread. I will check with Dr. McClean and get back with you if he knows of any other commercial sources.

Comment by greenbergcr on March 16, 2019 at 3:52pm

I know this is an old thread, but I'm hoping for some suggestions. I live in Salt Lake and I'm vegetarian and I don't want to start making my own bread, but I'd like to start eating NL Whole Grain Bread. Do you know where I can buy such already made type breads in this general area?

Comment by Merilie Johnson on December 21, 2016 at 10:48am

I would love to obtain an NL starter but have not figured out where or how. Please advise.

Comment by James Simmons on May 3, 2014 at 3:13am

Reinea, Have you watched the videos and read the recipe for the pancakes and bread? The method for rolling the bread dough out before putting it in the pans helps to re-invigorate the leavening process. The addition of the other ingredients in the pancakes make them taste yummy. Its not just starter and baking powder and baking soda. We like it with coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and I also put some pure maple syrup in the batter.

Dr McClean has some great suggestions in the comments below and they might be helpful as well. 

It may be that your starter isn't active enough and doesn't have enough yeast in it, just the lactobacilli, and that is why your bread isn't rising. Also the dough should get some "oven spring" when it bakes. If it doesn't then maybe it has sat too long and has completely run out of feed.  Dr McClean suggests feeding the starrter every 12 to 24 hours until it smells sweet and yeasty.

If you want I can send you a new start. Just send me a self addressed envelope with a stamp on it and a note so I remember who you are and I'll send one right out.

Comment by Reinae Bollschweiler on May 2, 2014 at 6:21pm
I have been working with my starter for several months. I am really struggling with it. I really want to be successful with this to help my family be healthier. However, I have tried doing pancakes every other day and have tried different variations of it, but my kids and I do not like them. So I started trying to make NL bread and no matter what I do I can not get my dough to rise after I put it in bread pans. It will rise in the bowl and after about 8 to 10 hrs it will double. But then after I put them in for the final rise it will not rise. What do I do? I would love to take a class however I live to far away.
Comment by James Simmons on April 26, 2012 at 7:04am

One of the reasons Dr. McClean has also encouraged the making of pancakes in the beginning of your journey toward making good naturally leavened bread is because it is a more forgiving approach to coming to know the nature of starter. If you made pancake out of your starter daily for a time, you would soon have a great feel for the nature of naturally leavened starter. Confidence and success follows the ability to have your starter be able to raise itself every time after you feed the starter when it is at room temperature.

To make pancakes from good starter do the following:

  1. Pours out 2.5 to 3 cups starter into a mixing bowl.
  2. If you want any other additions, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts or seeds, fruit, etc.,then mix it in well now. Keep things simple until you get this process down consistently.
  3. After the extras, add 2.5 teaspoons of baking powder and mix in well. 
  4. Last of all add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, which will neutralize the acid in the starter and cause the starter to sweeten. 

You will note that the starter begins to rise rather swiftly after you add the baking powder and within seconds of adding the baking soda that sweetens the batter you can begin making pancakes.

Anyway, pancakes are far more forgiving then mixing up loaves of bread that never rise. While you are feeding your starter daily, or even more often, rather than throw away excess starter, which you will soon have, use some of that starter to become expert at making pancakes. And just as soon as you consistently can feed your starter and have it begin to raise itself, as Dr. McClean stated, then you are ready to make good bread. We tried several methods of naturally leavened bread making. None worked consistently well for us until we became very confident with being able to maintain and nice subtle smell to our starter, and to have our starter raise for us successfully each and every time we feed it.

Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on April 26, 2012 at 6:33am

Sloan, you will find that the secret is the activity of your leaven.  If your leaven cannot raise itself then it cannot raise a loaf of bread.  Generally, naturally leavened breads do take longer to rise than breads using quick rise yeast.  Letting it sit for 24 hours will be great for the health benefits as far as the beneficial bacteria breaking down the grain but the yeast may not be very active.  Try feeding your starter every 12 to 24 hours with large amounts of flour and water.  This will overcome the acid and your starter will begin to smell more sweet and yeasty.  You should find that your starter will bubble up to the top of its container.  I have even had starter explode out of my mason jar when I remove the lid.  I find an easy method to ensure better health benefits and rising is to make your dough with active starter and then let the dough sit covered over night.  Then in the morning I punch it back and form my loaves and let them rise for 30-90 minutes before baking.

Comment by Sloan Guisinger on April 17, 2012 at 8:02am

I don't know what my problem is but I have tried to make sourdough bread at least a dozen times and only once has it risen.  I put it in the oven with the light on to rise so it should be warm enough.  I've let it sit for up to 24 hours waiting for it to rise so it should be long enough.  I use freshly ground wheat andI put in 1+ cups of starter so there should be enough starter...I'm at a loss and just not sure what to do next.  Any ideas??

Comment by James Simmons on April 17, 2012 at 7:46am

Yes Elisa, Desem is one of a number of names given to this type of bread. As Dr. McClean has described, each type of grain attracts it's own unique cultures of friendly bacteria, which include natural strains of yeast and lactobacilli. Anyone who has ever made bread with natural sourdough starters will have made bread like this, provided they are using wheat flour. Even then, the many varieties of wheat produce their own unique cultures of bacteria.

Comment by Elisa Houston on April 17, 2012 at 7:35am

So I've been making bread and it's going great!  Thank you.  Is this considered "Desem" style bread, or is it a different kind of leavening?

Comment by Elisa Houston on April 1, 2012 at 12:23pm

Thank you so much!

Comment by James Simmons on April 1, 2012 at 11:48am

You put it in the refrigerator to store it after it is activated, then take it out when you want to use it to make bread. It does not need to stay out on the counter after you feed it. The only time we leave it on the counter in the future is if it has sat in the refrigerator too long between uses and we need to freshen it. When freshening starter, you feed it, place it on the counter and allow it to become active, and feed it again. We repeat this until it develops a nice subtle smell. Then we use it and put it back into the refrigerator. Some say you should allow it to sit on the counter before using it, but it is unnecessary to allow it to warm up because as you mix the dough the friction of mixing warms it up to the right temperature. It sounds like you are doing things right, just dealing with a little colder temperatures right now. Colleen and I will make some bread and show some before and after pictures of starter that is active versus starter that is semi-dormant or less active. Just keep in mind that when fresh feed is present and the temperature is right, these friendly bacteria feed and propagate continuously until the feed is gone, which is noted most easily by the bubbles created from the gas they produce. Off subject, but the gas we personally experience from time to time is simply undigested food that makes its way into the colon without being absorbed into the digestive tract. These same beneficial bacteria live in our gut and feed and produce gas as they consume undigested sugars and other parts of food.

Comment by Elisa Houston on April 1, 2012 at 11:18am

At what point do you think I'll put it in the fridge?  Is it uncovered on the counter this whole time? My kitchen is chilly-probably lingers between 60-65 this time of year.  I moved the starter to our bedroom, where is the warmest room in the whole house.  It's probably 68 or so.  I can turn up the thermostat if I need to, but our house just doesn't keep heat very well so it's pricey.

Then, when I take it out of the fridge to use it and feed it by replacing what I use, does it sit on the counter or does it go straight back to the fridge?


Sorry to be so specific and nit-picky--it is really nice to get answers from live people.  I really want this to work, and I know once I get the gist and know what to look for, it'll become second nature.  Is there a video out there that shows the "bubbling and rising?"

Thanks SO MUCH!

Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on April 1, 2012 at 4:58am

Elisa, that black layer is hooch.  Your leaven is hungry.  Move on to step 4.  You are going to end up with a lot of leaven.  Go ahead and take most of it and make pancakes and waffles and then continue to feed your leaven.  What temperature is your kitchen?  If it is 68 degrees or higher the feeding will work well.  If it is colder than that, the process will take longer.  After you have fed your leaven a few more times, you will find that your leaven will become very active.  Waiting 24 hours to feed it will be to long.  You will notice that the feedings get closer and closer.  You may need to feed it every 4-12 hours.

Comment by James Simmons on April 1, 2012 at 4:45am

Elisa, just a couple of thoughts for you; first cool springs do affect the activity of the friendly bacteria. Our experience has been that they do best when is not drafty in our home and when the temperatures are above about 68 degrees. Last spring the weather pattern was such that even with our mature starter on batch of bread required an entire 38 hours to rise. Just two weeks later when the pleasant weather of spring seemed to be here for good, it took only 6 to 8 hours to get our first full rise before we created loaves and allowed the bread to rise again (2 to 3 hours tops). So yes, the temperature, draftiness, and probably even barometric pressure changes might each play a role in how actively the lactobacilli will feed. Now, for the second thought; I've seen examples personally with those beginning their starter from dry starter where the leavening actually occurred and the bubbles were so small or occurred when the person was not watching that they missed it entirely. In one such instance, while visiting a friend in St. George, Utah, we actually decided to attempt to make bread using the new starter anyway, just because it smelled to me as if it was active. And it turned out to be active and the bread turned out perfectly. While I'm sure naturally leavened bread making is an exact science, I'm also certain that there are also many variables from the type of wheat being used, to temperature, to changes in weather, and so forth. Dr. Matt McClean will be publishing a book soon that will share his findings with different varieties of wheat and so forth. 

From what you've said, it sounds as if your starter may be ready. Try pouring off the liquid that you mentioned and go on to step 4 above. During step four make sure that you've got your dough in one of the warmer places in your house and check on it periodically to see if you can see any activity. The bubbles a natural by-product of gases that are emitted as the bacteria feed and ferment the grain. Perhaps Dr. McClean will also share his thoughts. Jim

Comment by Elisa Houston on April 1, 2012 at 3:20am

I have a question--I've done my starter through step 3.  It's now been on the counter for almost 72 hours but I have yet to see any "bubbling and rising."  It smells slightly sour, but not overly so and it doesn't smell bad in any way.  There is about a half an inch layer on the top of it that almost looks black that is slimey.  I've seen this type of thing with sourdough before.  My kitchen is one of the coolest places this time of year, so I'm wondering if that has something to do with it.

How long could it take to see it become "active?"

Comment by Elisa Houston on March 29, 2012 at 8:37am

Great!  Thanks so much for the info.  This site is great.  I am really glad I found it.  I am so wanting our family to be healthier, and doing it economically.


I'm on day 2 with the starter, so I'll be able to bake in a few days!

Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on March 29, 2012 at 8:07am



Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on March 29, 2012 at 8:05am

Elisa, you said that you are using metal bowls to rise the bread.  We often use cast iron for leavening and it works great.  I only see an issue with cast iron if you were storing your leaven in it.

Comment by James Simmons on March 29, 2012 at 8:04am

Thank you Dr. Dough:) Can we also leap to conclude from what you are saying that for all grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, as well as not-so-healthful items we bring into our home, that they attract and promote cultures of beneficial and not so beneficial microbes according to what each culture most naturally feeds upon? 


James Simmons created this Ning Network.


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