While all whole grain breads are high in magnesium, a study in France revealed that whole grain sourdough breads have a huge advantage. While the magnesium content is the same as other magnesium rich breads, the sourdough brings the big booster of increased bio-availability. In other words, your body absorbs and gets to use more of the magnesium than it does from non-fermented type breads. In fact, sourdough helps deliver the whole range of minerals (including magnesium, iron and zinc) much more effectively than other whole grain breads by increasing absorption rates. This study was conducted at the Unité de Laboratoire pour l’Innovation dans les Céréales.
If you live in San Francisco, this study is good news, as sourdough bread is available everywhere. If you live elsewhere, or you want to be adventurous, you may want to try making sourdough bread yourself. The tricky part of this is making what’s called the sourdough starter.
Sourdough starter is a bubbly, fermenting mess of flour and water that gives the sourdough its tangy flavor. It’s also what will boost your magnesium levels.
Organic and (even better) whole wheat bran flour is the way to go here. You want lots of natural microorganisms to help the fermentation. (The bran flour is magnesium superstar to start with, too.)
For the fast method, all you need is to blend one cup of flour with one cup of warm water in a wide-mouth jar to get started on your sourdough culture. To ensure success, add a few wash organic grapes (which will have yeast on the skin) or a started such as kefir. These are not necessary, but they will make it more of a sure thing. If you choose to go it without these added ingredients, try starting with just a half tablespoon of flour with 3 tablespoons of water. The add equal amounts of flour and water each day for a week until you have a full cup.
A clear glass will allows you to see how the culture is developing – and, believe me, you will want to check it often. Leave the jar in a warm and light location, at around 70 to 80° Fahrenheit (21 to 27° Centigrade). If temperatures go over 100° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) you will end up killing the culture. A cloth or paper towel should be placed loosely over the top of the jar to help keep it moist and to keep out bugs.
Every day, you need to empty out half of your starter culture, and fill the jar again by adding equal amounts of water and flour to the level it was at before you emptied half. It will be ready for use anywhere from 5 days to a month later, depending on temperature and location. This is weird thing about starter – telling when it’s ready.
Just remember, though, that once its ready it just continues to get better – so don’t feel rushed. As long as no purple mold shows up to kill it all off, you’re good to go.
Sourdough starter is alive, and thus it must be fed regularly. When not using your starter, it is important to dump out half the batch from time to time, and mix in fresh flour and water to equal the lost volume. Exactly how often this should be done depends on storage temperatures and the local strain. An active starter should be fed daily (if not multiple times per day depending on temperature and other conditions). See the note below about dormant starters.
Sourdough is best stored at room temperature or slightly warmer. Anything outside of this range will
change the proportions of the bacteria and yeast, which affects the flavor of the result. It can be safely stored in the fridge, but temperatures over 80F are too hot. If you store your starter in the fridge, then let it sit out several hours after feeding before returning it to the refrigerator. This allows the yeasts to get active and feed. The temperature in the fridge is enough to slow down the yeast, but not the lacto-bacteria. So after a while your starter will begin to smell boozy and have a sharper tang to it than you might want. To fix this, just dump out 90% and start the feeding cycle again. When it’s ready, you can slow things down by putting in covered (but not too tightly) in the fridge.
To make sure that your starter is full strength before committing it to a dough, you should check to see if it quadruples its size if fed and left for an hour. Feed starter by adding equal amounts of water and flour, and put ¼ cup in a measuring cup. If it hits the one cup marker in an hour or so then it is ready to go. If not, then it needs to be fed more. Accelerate your feeding schedule until it passes the test.
There’s a wonderful explanation of this at breadtopia.com, with a helpful video as well.
Making your own sourdough is a wonderful experience, and a super way to really soak up all the magnesium you need.