Review: “San Francisco” Sourdough Starter by Cultures for Health


In spite of my years cooking and fermenting, I’ll be honest, breadmaking has always intimidated me a bit. I went outside my comfort zone developing over many months and trials my pickle brine rye bread recipe in my cookbook, but that recipe worked off of instant yeast. Since I’ve eaten a mostly Paleo diet the last several years, I somehow just never got into the sourdough thing in spite of my zeal for fermentation.

That all changed recently when Cultures for Health gave me the opportunity to try out one of their sourdough starter kits and see how easy it could be!

Honestly, I had some doubts. For one, although spring is on the horizon, my house is still chilly and I wondered whether I’d see the action start to happen in my starter once I started feeding it. Their description was quite reassuring though, noting the starter is “very versatile and hardy, happily thriving in a variety of environments to continually produce chewy, crusty, tangy sourdough loaves.”

Another concern was that in the past I had seen so many different recipes, measurements and instructions for making a sourdough starter that I kind of just got overwhelmed.

I decided to stop overthinking it and to just follow their clear, simple directions. I was encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive 5-star reviews, not only on their site, but on other review forums. On their site, this product has about 600 ratings with an average of 4.5 stars out of 5. They also have a ton more guidance, recipes and videos on their site and online.

Within a week I had a beautiful and bubbly active sourdough starter!

I never could have imagined how much fun I’d have baking bread. Over the course of the next week, I made a rustic sourdough boule, a Jewish-style rye, and a classic white sourdough loaf. They all had a wonderfully crunchy crust and a very pillowy but firm inside that just feels great to chew on. (Check them all out below!)

Although, as I mentioned, I’m not a huge bread eater, these breads were delicious and so much better than what I get in the store. And let’s not forget this was on my first tries and I’m not an expert by any means. I know I’ll learn and improve more but I couldn’t have been happier!

Luckily for my family, who most assuredly are regular bread eaters, I’m happy to make it much more often now, and of course I’ll have to steal a slice here and there for sure.

Also check out my sourdough discard pancakes below. I’ll certainly have to post some of these recipes in the near future, and convert my pickle brine ryebread to a sourdough version!

Boule with 15% whole wheat
Sourdough loaf
Reuben sandwich using my sourdough rye. Instead of the traditional sauerkraut, I used my dill-pickle sauerruben.

And as if all of this weren’t enough, I used lots of my sourdough discard along with milk kefir in my pancake batter and the results were out of this world!

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