Find Your Essential Nature Journal

How do you eat a loaf of bread?


Siobhán Sloane, Find Your Essential Nature, Ireland

24 April 2020

One bite at a time.

The strive to achieve the perfect sourdough starter has become a national activity.  Drawing on a strong tradition of bread-making in Ireland. Long before the introduction of the potato to Ireland around the 16th century, providing our main source of carbohydrates, we enjoyed a diet of cereals and dairy, with varying amounts of meat and fish together with some wild foods (you can read my post about wild food here). 

Where is all the flour?
Much of the flour available to us today is imported from the UK. In the past wheat was widely grown in Ireland as our damp climate provided ideal growing conditions. Around the country are the remains of watermills, and the Museum of Country Life in Co. Mayo has some examples of querns, kilns and threshing machines all associated with producing flour. Bread was baked on a griddle or in a bastable over an open fire. There are a few operational mills in Ireland such as Martry Mill in Co. Meath which produces stoneground wholemeal flour. Although presently not grinding flour, the restored Finnertys’ Mills in Co. Galway is well worth a visit.


What to do with all the sourdough experiments?
During attempts to make sourdough, you may find yourself with an excess of sourdough starter. It is an ongoing project with varying success. However, finding uses for the excess sourdough has resulted in surprisingly successful results. It has been used to make pancakes, pizza and tempura batter.

pizza dough

There is an appreciation among chefs, home-cooks and those travelling to and around Ireland for high quality natural ingredients produced on a small-scale. Now is an opportunity to cherish the high quality produce and growing conditions in Ireland and equip ourselves with some new skills in the process. The key word with bread baking and especially sourdough is patience.

sour dough starter

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