Virgil is my sourdough starter - the humble being that makes all my breads rise. There are lots of ways to make bread rise - by using packaged yeast, baking soda, or baking powder. But a sourdough starter is by far the oldest trick in the book. Wild yeast and bacteria are captured from the air through a simple process of mixing flour and water together for several days. The yeast present in this mixture, or starter, is what starts the fermentation process.
Using a sourdough starter means you can prolong the fermentation process - which is a good thing not only for the flavor of the bread, but also for you. True sourdough loaves can ferment for several hours up to a couple of days, depending on the temperature, whereas commercial yeast loaves can only ferment for a few short hours. They call it instant yeast for a reason.
Now for the umpteen reasons why sourdough bread is the creme de la creme, the cat's pajamas. Your body has to do less work - your digestive system will thank you for this. With a 12-36 hour fermentation time, the yeast is doing all the hard work for you - it's nibbling away and breaking down the starches and sugars, so by the time you eat it, most of it has already been digested and broken down. In this same way, sourdough doesn't cause blood sugar spikes like commercial breads do, which is another really good thing for you. Sourdough has a lower sugar content than its commerically yeasted counterparts because the yeast has been eating the sugar for hours already. Sourdough is also more nutritious because the lactic acid fermentation essentially unlocks loads of vitamins and minerals for your body to absorb - vitamins and minerals that otherwise wouldn't be available in breads with commercial yeast due to the very short fermentation time. But the most important part is the flavor. It just tastes better.
Growing up in the south, I was raised on big, bold flavor where sacrificing quality and taste for the sake of time just means you're doing it wrong. I started baking bread years ago with that concept in mind, the longer you let it do its thing, the bigger and better the payoff will be. Also I think food made by hand just tastes better.
Food enthusiasm took Virgil and I to Portland, OR so I could get my master's in nutrition (or what I like to call Food School), completing my internship at a local bakery where we baked sourdough everything.
Now Virgil and I live in Whitefish and we just want to bake really good bread and give it to people that want to eat really good bread.