The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mail order starters

flour_dusted's picture

Mail order starters

Greetings FL's!  This is my first post & wish to introduce myself. I currently live in Calgary, AB (hello althetrainer!) & have been a lurker here for sometime--approx. 1 1/2 years. I do read the fresh loaf every day and have got to say what a wonderful bunch of accomplished bakers you are!  I recently moved & have some how lost my 5 year old starter & my dried back-up *big sigh*.  So I am embarking on getting a new starter up & going but, in the mean time, I need an established starter now or sooner!!  My first question is 1) does anyone have any experience with sourdough international starters?  2) which are in your opinion the best in performance as to mild-med sourness, strength, fast or slow rising etc...  I greatly appreciate any valuable input!            Susan in Calgary

davidg618's picture


I've been using Sourdough International's Italian starter (Ischia Island) for about a nine months. I've created two version. One, I feed on KA bread flour, the other I feed KA First Clear flour. Both perform well, but they have slightly different characteristics. The bread flour version develops more mild flavor, has a longer lag time, but once it gets going, has slightly shorter proof times. The first clear flour version produces slightly tangier flavor, exhibits markedly less lag time, and slightly longer--about 20%--final proof times.

I can't comment on bulk proofing times because I manipulate doughs differently during bulk fermentation; e.g., more or less Stretch and Folds, or different retarding temperatures. However, I keep careful record of final proofing times. At nominally 76°F the doughs made with the bread flour version take 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Doughs made with the first clear flour version take 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours. These times are for my weekly sourdough bakings whose formulas are mostly 10% whole rye, and 45% each AP and bread flour, or 10% whole rye, 28% first clear, 17% AP, and 45% bread flour. I use the same amount of starter in both recipes: 28% of either first clear or bread flour, 100% hydration. The finished doughs are 68% hydration.

I feed the starters every 7 to 10 days, keep them both in the refrigerator, and both are maintained at 100% hydration.

I have been very satisfied with their performance. There are lots of pictures of evidence on my TFL blog.

David G

flour_dusted's picture

Thank you so much for the info!  Greatly appreciated!            Susan in Calgary

Trishinomaha's picture

King Arthur Flour has a very good "live" starter they send out in small jar. It's less expensive than Sourdough International I think. I bought some several months ago and it was up and running very quickly. Here's a link:


jim baugh's picture
jim baugh

I have been using the KAF starter and it is doing great. Really like the flavor. I also have a wild starter as well. Like to use them both depending on what I am baking.

Try the Sir Lancealot, very good high gluten flour.

Jim B