The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Switched white flour for starter feeding, starter now sluggish

anakha's picture

Switched white flour for starter feeding, starter now sluggish

I have a white sourdough starter that was fed a constant supply of Anchor Lighthouse bread flour (Australian) and it was very active. As that flour was only available in 1Kg packets it was not cheap for regular bread baking. I have sinced switched to Laucke Wallaby flour which has received positive discussion on-line and is available in 5Kg bags.

I noticed that my starter is considerably more sluggish since the switch to different flour. It has only been two days since the switch. Seeing as both flours are high protein and other factors such as temperature, water and hydration are the same, that it is a matter of the starter culture adapting to the new flour?

cranbo's picture

yes, this is pretty normal, especially when you switch from a whole wheat flour to a white flour. After a week or two it will regain speed and strength. 

breadforfun's picture


I had a similar experience recently - but in the opposite direction.  My starter became much more active when I switched flours.  I'm not completely sure of the reason, but the new flour is malted while the old one was not.  This gives the yeast more sugar to consume, so it seesms like a plausible explanation.  You may want to check the ingredients to see if malt was added to the old one and not to the new.  You can always add your own malt powder if that is the case.


Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Has the consistency changed? After 12 hrs, a healthy starter should still have some gluten structure. It should hang together nicely on a fork, but also be easily washed off. If it has thinned and become glue-like, like it runs through a fork very quickly and is extremely difficult to wash off completely, then you might have Thiol issues. This is known to occur when switching flours, although more noticeably when switching from a WW to an AP or bread flour. Either way, just keep feeding it regularly. If it's just acclimating to the new flour, probably 3-5 days should get it going. If it's Thiol, it will take no less than a week, as much as two.

- Keith

AnnaInMD's picture

get it going again ?




Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Just use a mix of 90% white flour and 10% rye or whole wheat. It's not that much more expensive than a straight white flour feeding and you'll have a more vigorous starter. Fresh milled rye flour is particularly useful in energizing a starter. Some of the bakers here report using a 70% white, 20% whole wheat, and 10% rye mix in feeding their starters is a desirable combination. My current feeding is an 85% white and 15% rye flour combination. It's not broken so I'm not fixing it.


anakha's picture

Thanks for the input guys. To add some more information, I split off a portion of the starter over a week back as insurance. I switched that starter over to the new flour at the same time and it's very active currently. Difference between the two is I've been taking the problematic starter and another pure rye starter to the office with me as the office is heated and my place is relatively cold, it being winter here. When home I keep all the starters in the oven and barely warm the oven to keep them at a 20-30 degC temperature.

Was on a 24 hour feeding cycle, stepping it up to 12 hours for now and going to use the good backup as my main for the time being. Will persist with feeding the sluggish one and see if it comes good.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

>I've been taking the problematic starter and another pure rye starter to the office with me

Now -that's- dedication! hehe

- Keith

ph_kosel's picture

Dedication indeed!  Visions of someone kneading dough on their office desk pop to mind.

thomaschacon75's picture

I used to bring my starters to work when I was working at Microsoft. I'd run down to the parking garage around lunchtime and feed them. Security almost arrested me once, absolutely convinced I was mixing some sort of explosive. I was lucky enough not to say something stupid like, "Does this smell like ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel to you?!!" ;D