Wed, 03/22/2023 - 1:42pm admin
Sue Neitzel, featured writer
For centuries, sourdough bread has been a staple for many. Dating back to 1500 BC, it's a heritage from our past that is just as modern today. During the quarantine a few years ago, the craft of making sourdough bread had everyone doing it. For one local family who has been making their own bread for more than 20 years, it was about making something healthier for their small children.
Cassandra Mooneyham of Pottersville set out to find a bread with benefits and one that wasn't too labor intensive, so she bought a sourdough starter online 12 years ago. She watched some YouTube videos, and the rest is history as they say.
“I've never had true sourdough bread, only the flavored bread from the grocery store. I really liked the idea of long-fermented doughs that would be easier to digest due to the prebiotics," said Cassandra, who is now a true sourdough baker for her family and for profit.
The Mooneyham family left Arizona a couple of years ago to find a farm where restrictions were few and water was plentiful. Totally new to farming, they wanted a better life and fell in love with Missouri. Content and settled today, they are living their dream on land that supports them, feeds them, and supplies a healthier lifestyle.
"We are a farm dedicated to using regenerative agriculture to heal the land and our bodies, with sourdough being an extension of that," Cassandra explains. When the oven isn't baking up loaves and other sourdough favorites, the whole family tends to the needs of the farm.
Committed to an organic creed, the Mooneyhams raise lifetime grass-fed beef along with organically grown chickens and soy-free eggs. Pigs are trained to rotate through the forest, while rabbits supply meat and fertilizer for the garden. There is nothing that goes to waste, including sourdough. The discards can make anything from cookies to pancakes.
The craft is simple -- you begin with a mixture of equal parts flour and water that naturally collects yeast and bacteria (the good kind) from its environment. This is your starter. After a rest and a feeding, the starter is ready to use.
There is some care in the upkeep of the starter. You want to keep it alive. You can freeze it or dehydrate it for future use. Sourdough was universal until brewers yeast became common. Some pioneers were said to have used a starter that was very old, handed down from one family member to the next, and treated like gold.
There are many recipes for homemade starters, some using commercial yeast that speeds up the baking process. Either way, the end result is a bread with history, that is better for digestion, higher in minerals, and one that breaks down gluten, plus is lower in fat and carbs. The sourdough craze may have weakened some, but for the bakers who rely on this method, it's a lifestyle and they are breadwinners too.