The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thoughts on a non-specific starter?

umbreadman's picture

Thoughts on a non-specific starter?

First I'd like to say hi to everyone here, I've been perusing the website for some time now and finally decided to join in. I'm excited. I've only been baking bread for a month or so and the only real book I've looked at is Hamelman's "Bread", and the rest I've learned from TFL and I've got a sort of hybrid starter going, and that's what my question is about.

I've noticed whenever people talk about starters, they tend to say they have a dedicated whole wheat starter, or white starter, or rye, or spelt or something. I have a starter myself, and I started it with white flour, but as i've nurtured it, i've usually tossed in a little bit of whatever flour I had on hand - be it white, ww, rye, and just recently a touch of spelt - and added water until it looked right. I haven't killed it yet, and its been very active and happy (I think) and produces some pretty good bread I think. I'm curious though, for one if anyone else does this sort of 'every-flour' starter, or if not, what are the benefits of having a specific starter for specific flours?

Like I said, I'm pretty new at this. I've made a few loaves and have been lucky I suppose. I've been getting good feedback on my bread from my housemates and breadmaking helps satiate my creative needs, so now, I suppose I am truly sucked into the wonderful world of breadmaking. I hope to get some pictures up and share, and to keep learning from all you fine folks. Thanks for having such a great community here!


Floydm's picture

I'm not strict about the flour I feed my starter. I use whatever is cheap and handy, which is typically AP flour but occasionally something else.

I'm sure I could develop starters with different characteristics if I were more strict about the flour fed it or the hydration it is kept at, but I have enough other organisms needing to be nutured (children, cats, fish, houseplants, a garden) that my starter will have to make due with whatever I feed it.

SourdoLady's picture

As Floyd said, I don't think the starter really cares what kind of flour you feed it. The type of flour you use could have some affect on the flavor of the resulting bread, though. One thing I would avoid is bleached white flour. The bleaching process results in an inferior flour with poor nutrients for your sourdough. Unbleached AP flour is cheap and works great for feeding.

dough0nut's picture

It's true that your starter doesn't care what you feed it, but consider this: the microbes in the starter come from the flour. If you take a small amount of a starter that you are fond of and feed it with a larger amount of, say rye flour (which is very high in microbes), it is possbile to innundate your original starter. For feeding my starter I like to use a cheap white flour. Save the good stuff for making the bread.


Paddyscake's picture

and so is my starter! Depending on my whim..sometimes I throw in whole wheat, sometimes dark rye, light whole wheat, graham whole wheat, unbleached organic white.. I may even do a combo. If I was in business and needed consistancy, that would be another thing, but I'm having fun. I take note of what I'm doing at the time, if we like it, I note it down. Some peeps are purists and that's cool too. You know, make your own kind of music..