The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter flour

Baker Frank's picture
Baker Frank

Starter flour

Hi All

Through the years I have been using 50% whole wheat flour and 50% bread flour to feed my starter. At this point I am not sure this is the optimum flour combination to use so I am asking my fellow Fresh Loaf bloggers for their opinion?

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

A starter that has done its job for you for more than a year on the same diet is all the justification you need to continue. That shouldn't stop you from trying a different mixture of flours whenever you feel curious enough to do so. I use a blend of 85% AP/ 15% rye flour that has worked on just about every loaf I've baked for two years. Occasinally, I'll change things up but that's more out of doing it because I can rather than I need to change.

As long as your starter responds well and on a timely basis for your baking, you needn't change a thing.

richkaimd's picture

I pose this question:  since the bulk of the flavor of a sourdough loaf comes from the largest quantity of the dry ingredients used (i.e., the flour(s), salt, spices, whatever), and since the function of the sourdough starter is to deliver the leavening buggies, does it really matter what flour is used in the starter?  I, personally, doubt it.  I've always acted as if the starter's function is only to leaven, not to add anything to flavor, any more that dry yeast adds significantly to flavor.  Because this has been my belief, I use whatever flour I have on hand to refresh my starter and then to use in the loaf I'm making at the time.





Baker Frank's picture
Baker Frank

Thanks all for your thoughful and helpful comments.


IndoLee's picture

Its far more important what flour(s) you use to START your starter with than what you use to maintain it!  Once you have a stable culture (about a week or 10 days after starting) it makes much less difference, though I have found that bleached flours and wild yeasts don't dance well together.

50% WW is great for original starter batch as is about 15% or more Rye Flour. 

Monica Spiller writes "...Whole wheat flour and enzyme active malt (unheated sprouted grain) provide the
rich source of enzymes and nutrients including maltose, needed to generate a natural
sourdough populated by symbiotic yeasts and lactic bacteria. Other sugars, such as
glucose are generated by the enzymes in a whole wheat sourdough and are sufficiently
plentiful to properly maintain the sourdough yeast. (Note that refined flour without
enrichment with vitamins and minerals may not be able to support a natural sourdough)..."

Some Rye flour added to both the original starter and subsequent refreshes increases fermentation and also allows for longer refrigeration between refreshes (if you refrigerate your starter)