The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flours with richest microflora?

nicodvb's picture

Flours with richest microflora?


I'm experimenting starters with a lot of flours, all starters made by me from scratch.

I have the feeling that in -addition to the usual suspect rye- durum wheat flour (remilled semolina), even if bleached, seems to be very rich of yeasts: it rises a lot, really a lot, I'd say as much and as quickly as rye.

Are there evidences that it is true?


Generally speaking what is the flour richest of yeasts?




clazar123's picture

It would be interesting if some of the people on the Sourdough Forum jumped in here.

I know the flour has a lot to do with generating a good sourdough starter but I have to believe environment contributes some.I set  a starter out in a basement office (yes-it is a mildew-rich environment) and it went nuts.I had used the same flour for a starter placed in my kitchen at the same time and it was successful but much more sedate. To this day (2 years now) they have different characteristics. My "basement" culture doubles before your eyes and is often hungrier than my "kitchen" culture.It has settled down,though.My kitchen culture is a steady eddy-longer,slower rise but less likely to fizzle out.

Out of curiosity, what was your reason for posing this question?


CarlSF's picture

It's funny.  A couple of years ago I asked a professional baker how he creates his culture.  He asked if I had a damp cool cellar, and I told him no.  He said that having a cool wet cellar or basement is the best method to start a sourdough culture.  Maybe this method is worth thinking about?

clazar123's picture

I wanted to try another starter from that basement and see what happens. I was new to sourdough at the time but it was really a wild starter at first.It's still a hot reactor but is much mellower than my kitchen starter.

It is easier to underfeed,though,too. I almost lost it a few times.Doesn't like to stay dormant in the refrig as long as the other one.

Just like children-each is unique.

Still curious as to why the original question was raised?!

nicodvb's picture

I asked it because I noticed that executing the same recipe with different starters (by different people) the ones created with rye or durum wheat starters raised quicker and better than the others.

Now you tell me that the health of a starter may depend exclusively on the individual starter itself or on the environmental conditions, that is perfectly plausible, but I'm trying to understand if in addition to the environment there's a preferential flour to use.

CeHamman's picture

The least processed flours will have more micro-critters than the more

processed ones. Also where the grain was grown, has some to do with it


I also believe that the location in the world and the environmental conditions

of your area, have a lot to do, with how sourdough starters act and behave.

Yeast can change from location to location, even within a small area.

One of my hobbys is microbiolgy, and am always looking for new critters!

This is my first post on this fantastic site, and am amazed at the knowlege 


Charles H.

clazar123's picture

If different people,with different starters are making the same recipe,there are tons of other variables to account for differences in outcome. OR... Are you saying there is just 1 baker using different starters (from other people) on a single recipe,using identical ingredients under near identical conditions?

CeHamman's picture

Variables are all of the above and below.

What altitude you live at?

What is the humidity?

What is the temp in the kitchen?

What is the barometric pressure, when you

are making your loaf?

All of the above can have a influence on the

outcome of the loaf.

In more ways than one, baking is a science and



wojo723's picture

I just tried an experiment.  I made mashed potatoes and saved the water from boiling the spuds.  Once it cooled I made a rye and white starters from it.  Both equal weights flour to water.  I left them in my oven overnight so they could get the ambient heat from the pilot light.  They were in bowls covered with wet smooth cotton towels I use to double as a couche sometimes.  They were both doubled, bubbled, and fragrant by the next day.  i was pretty surprised.  It's a very cold and snowy winter here already, so I wasn't expecting much activity.  I fed them, let them sit for a bit and stored them in the fridge.  I haven't baked anything with them yet but they look, smell, and taste just right.  My older starters took a few days of feeding, stiring and storing before they got to the same point.  These new potato starters look like they've been fermenting for a while and they're maybe a week old.  Anyone else ever use potato water?

ananda's picture

This is turning into a really interesting thread;

The one variable hitherto not mentioned is the yeasts and bacteria on the hands of the person mixing the culture.

I think it is essential to realise that each culture will vary at any one point in time.

So a San Francisco sourdough truly should only come from the Bay.   However, it will work perfectly well when, for instance dried, shipped to the UK and then will then mutate adapting to all the variables your excellent discussion is pulling out.

Other thoughts: feeding regimes, time, temperature, liquid or stiff levain?

All of these have great bearing on development of those microflora

Keep it going


Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Yes, I think that the microflora on the hands of the baker - we're all different and individually we differ from day to day, perhaps even hour to hour - have probably the greatest influence on the starter. 

Hmm. It would need a controlled experiment to verify this and I have other things to do right now ...

Well that's my excuse ...