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Rye Starter from Bread Flour Starter Questions

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loafgeek's picture
loafgeek

Rye Starter from Bread Flour Starter Questions

I have a couple questions.

I took 1/2 teaspoon of starter from my white bread flour sourdough starter--4 years established now--and threw it in another clean crock.  I then added equal weights of Hodgson's Mill Rye Flour and water to the crock and stirred it up.  It doubled after about 15 hours.  I then replaced 1/2 of the starter with fresh water and rye flour.  I plan on doing this a few more times then throw it in the fridge like I do with my bread flour starter.

Hamelman said he believes rye breads he bakes using a rye starter as a base seems to produce better loaves than using white flour starter with that loaf; so this is why I am making this rye starter--since I want to get into baking healthy whole rye breads and pumpernickel.  He said--roughly from memory--the more the yeast and bacteria are acclimated to thier environment (rye vs wheat) they more healthy they will be making a better loaf.

Is it okay to do what I've done by starting it with a tiny amount of white flour yeast and bacteria?  I figure after refreshing the rye starter several times it will start to keep yeast and bacteria that are more suited for that environment (i.e. rye vs wheat environment)--mutations or whatever it is that produces the changes or perhaps yeast already in the Hodgson Mill rye grain.

Or should I just make a fresh rye starter from scratch and go through the days of putrid smells?--like I did back when I made this white starter I have with rye.

If a sourdough culture I buy from San Francisco mail order can eventually localize to the yeast here in Oklahoma and kill off the san francisco yeast, then I figure the same for the oklahoma white starter vs. oklahoma rye starter--correct me if I'm wrong please.

Another question I have is, can I store this rye starter in my fridge safely like I do my white starter?  Or does the rye starter prefer 60-70F?

Is 100% hydration good for rye starter or should I go with 125%?  (I'll read Hamelman's book more--he probalby goes through this; just got the book.)

EDIT: Btw, I just smelled this now doubled rye starter (after about 3 hours or so) and it smells soooo good.  It has a very pleasant sweeet smell.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

It sounds like you already have a very active rye starter ready for bread baking, loafgeek!

I wish I could understand more of the science behind sourdough, but I share your view on the adaptability of the culture. A starter will adapt to changes in the climate, different flours, ambient temperature, feeding schedule etc. rapidly. Many bakers experience that starting a rye sourdough is easier than a wheat sourdough. This probably has a lot to do with the higher concentration of bacteria present in rye flour. There's nothing wrong in kick-starting a rye starter like you've done by inoculating rye flour and water with a bit of wheat sourdough. If you find and maintain a suitable feeding schedule, it should be close to the equivalent of a "true" rye starter within a few days. Try it out, and I'm sure you'll be rewarded with terrific bread! Starting a rye starter from scratch is not hard either; in fact, it can be a worthwhile excercise to do so, just to observe the different phases the culture goes through before turning into a sourdough ready for baking. It shouldn't take more than 4 - 5 days. A pretty foolproof way is as follows:

  1. Mix equal weights of rye flour and lukewarm water (i.e. 100% hydration) in a bowl, stir well together, cover and let sit on the kitchen counter for 24 hours.
  2. Mix equal weights rye flour, lukewarm water and sourdough starter from day 1. Let sit another 24 hours. This is when you'll start smelling the leuconostoc, and the ripened mixture will be rather runny and iffy.
  3. Keep up the 1:1:1 feeding schedule a couple more days until the starter triples after roughly 12 hours. Then it should be ready to be used for baking, but will benefit from a few more feedings according to approximately 1:5:5 (starter:water:rye flour) every 12 hours.

Choose the hydration you feel is easy to work with; a stiffer starter should produce a more acidic flavour and will need slightly longer to ripen compared to a looser one. I like to keep mine at roughly 100% - 120% hydration. There's no need to be crazy accurate about it, and feel free to experiment once you've gotten to know your starter.

A rye starter can be kept in the fridge for weeks or months, but might require some attention and care if it's been sitting there more than a couple of months. Simply take some ripe rye starter (e.g. leftover ripe sourdough from your bake), mix it up with rye flour and water (somewhere between 1:5:5 and 1:10:10 works well if you're working with a 100% hydration starter), let it sit an hour or two on the counter then put it in the fridge. A rye starter should be more robust than a wheat starter, so I'm sure it'll work out fine.

Good luck, and please do share some photos from your coming bakes, loafgeek!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and old trick is to chop up some onion and put it in the mix.   Once your rye starter is really going, pinch off about 15 g of it , add a tsp of minced onion, 30 g of rye flour and 30 g of water and let it sit for 4 hours.  Add 50 g each of rye flour and water and let it sit another 8 hours.  It should be ready to make a loaf of bread by then.   See how you like that as a real sour starter for your rye breads.  You can compare it to your other one.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Onions, like garlic tend to slow down yeast, so would it be like a low yeast starter which tends to get very sour waiting for yeast to catch up to raise the bread?  Have you done any comparisons using a rise race with starter and stater w/onion timing them?  Do they rise at the same speed?  Does the yeast recover with the next flour addition?  Might even see  variations with the type of onion.  

As for the poster's Q...  I would not hesitate to turn a wheat starter into a rye one.  And it sounds like it is going just fine.  With each feeding, the rises will speed up.  I refrigerate my rye starter all the time when I want a break from baking.  I use it to inoculate more starter when needed.  

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

between onion and non onion starters being built into a levain or actually rising a loaf either.  But it would be a nice experiment to do.  I'm guessing you are right.   if the onion slows down the yeast the levain or bread  should get more sour if it takes longer to either double the levain or the bread volume.  I use white onion thinking it would be stronger than yellow or red since it tastes less sweet and has stronger sour than the others when raw - but don't know if it actually retarded the yeast more than the others would.  very interesting questions some TFL'er scientists should answer with proper experiments or even improper ones ;-)

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I believe i learned this onion trick from David Snyder, like most of the other baking trickes and techniques we have picked up these past few months, maybe he could shed some light onto the whys and wherefores.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Correctly or incorrectly, Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein states that minced onion added to rye sour "helps to hasten the fermentation".  He also says that it, and the powdered caraway seeds in his recipe, both add flavor.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

For what it's worth, when I decided to experiment with 100%  rye bread, I made a new sourdough starter from scratch and it never went through the stinky stage.  It was smelling like yeast already after two days.  This might be due to the fact that I was baking bread regularly in my kitchen when I started the rye sourdough culture.  I already had multiple bacteria- and yeast-containing cultures going, including kefir, thus perhaps all the surfaces were contaminated with the appropriate spores.  When I started my wheat sourdough culture there was nothing but dinner being cooked in my kitchen, and it went through all of the stages described by Debra Wink for a flour-and-water starter.

 

loafgeek's picture
loafgeek

Thanks for all the replies.  The starter really established well from my wheat starter within a day.

I then made Hamelman's 3 stage 70% sourdough rye bread with it, using just a teaspoon of it.  It made some incredible bread.  Stage 2 of Hamelman's starter fermentation made the dough pleasantly and strongly sour.  Stage 3 smoothed it out.   It's so delicious!  I'll have to try it with onions on stage 2 next time.

Anyways, as Hamelman suggests I took a portion of the sorudough starter from the final sourdough (after stage 3) and put it in a jar.  Should I now replace my original rye starter with this portion I gathered from the 3 stage dough?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

yes, by all means do.  :)