The secret to delicious, authentic yet inexpensive home-made bread is having your own live sourdough starter. Authentic sourdough starter kefir grains can only be made by a live starter, not from any kind of packet or powder. Sourdough starters are simply a combination of local wild yeast and bacteria that live in symbiosis and have the ability to raise flat dough into bread. A sourdough starter is self-sustainable and will never die (if taken care of) and can be used for more than just bread (waffles, pancakes, etc).
The homemade slower fermentation imparts more health benefits because the slow action of the bacteria and yeast help partially pre-digest the grain in the bread, making it more digestible. It also lowers the glycemic load (ie sugar-spike) because of the additional acidic nature found in natural authentic sourdough bread. The most obvious difference is the flavor. The greater variety of yeast and bacteria produces a unique multi-dimensional flavor. You might not know this, but authentic sourdough doesn’t even have to be sour. You can easily make it mild and sweet if you raise the dough quickly. This avoids the sour flavor that develops and enhances in a longer rise. With your own sourdough starter, you can choose your own ingredients and flavorings. You can even make it gluten-free or try baking with other grains such as spelt, kamut, rice or rye.
There are many different varieties of sourdough starter around the world. The most popular and recognizable is the world of gourmet. Each sourdough starter has their own unique and special properties (extra tang, quick rising, etc). Professional bakers often seek out a certain strain of sourdough starter for its unique properties. Although there is still some debate, most attest that starters that are uprooted from their home retain their unique characteristics and the primary strains of yeast and bacteria remain intact.