Using a homemade starter rather than granulated commercial yeast ensures the bread develops a wonderful taste through longer rising to bring out the flavors of the grain. Another benefit is that the keeping quality is increased when using starter. To make a natural starters, also called biga in Italian, Levin or poulish in French, start with a bowl of raisins and water in your kitchen.


  • 1-2 cups organic raisins¬† (organic, unwaxed apple will work as well)

  • 2 cups room temperature water (filtered preferred)
  • 1 cup organic flour (a portion of the flour may be organic whole wheat to give a bit more sour character if desired)


Place both water and raisins in a bowl on counter in the kitchen. After 24 hours look for a cloudiness in the water. Remove the raisins and add the flour to the cloudy water and stir. Place back on the counter for another day. Continue to feed every 24 hours with more flour (1/2 cup) and more water (1/2 cup). At the end of the sixth day, there should be plenty of activity in the bowl and the gooey mass of sponginess is ready to use in bread.


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