The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Determining rye starter "doneness"

badmajon's picture

Determining rye starter "doneness"

I can usually tell when a wheat flour based sourdough starter is ready to use and at a good potency when it doubles and begins to fall after about 4-6 hours. I use a 1:4 build, usually works fine. I just keep repeating it until I get a peak and fall in about 4-6 hours like I said.

However lately I've been having trouble incorporating this logic into my rye based sourdough because my wholemeal rye flour has so little gluten in it that it doesn't really rise. It just kinda bulges slightly. I've now gotten in the habit of tasting it to see how sour it is but its not ideal for various reasons. Does anyone have a technique here for rye based sourdough starters?

My breads are barely rising and I suspect a badly made starter but I have no idea how to fix this...

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


Can you give us a bit more details about your rye starter? Hydration, feeding regime? Temperature?

In my experience with wholegrain rye starters,

at about 80% hydtation there is quite a bit expansion

at 100% hydration there is more than doubling in 12 to 16 hours at 26C (79F)

over 150% hydration you get frothing rather than expansion.

Rye starter loves it warm. 26C to 28C. I use the "Detmolder single step" method, that means

100% wholegrain rye

100% water

10% mature starter

This ripens in typically 14 hours at 28C (79F).

When it is ready it is well risen, with lots of wholes, tasting fruit-sour.

Last time my 5-year old licked the bowl clean ...


badmajon's picture

Hello thank you for your reply to my post. My starter regimen is as follows:

1) Take 25 g of starter out of fridge, add 50g wholemeal rye flour, 50g water
2) Let ferment at room temperature for 8 hours
3) Take 25g of starter (put rest in fridge to be used next time), again add 50g wholemeal rye flour, 50g water
4) Let ferment at room temperature for 8 hours again
5) Make bread

I'm not saying its totally impossible I'm doing this wrong, but you'd be hard pressed to get much of a rise out of this flour, it's 9% protein with big wholegrain chunks of rye in it. Maybe I should try your method though, and see what happens!

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

and how old is your starter?

Did you always keep it in the fridge between the feedings?

Protein content is not an issue.

I found that rye really likes it warm, warmer than wheat.  Since I control temperature I have much better results.


LindyD's picture

Here's one thread on rye starters, found using TFL's search bar:

Hope it answers your questions.