The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Help

amwilliams's picture

Sourdough Help

I have been following the sourdough guide in Peter Reinhart's 'artisan breads every day' but have now come to a standstill.  There is no information on how one goes about using the starter currently in my fridge for other recipes in other books (e.g. BBA or CRUST from Richard Bertinet).  I have tried to follow along with posts on hydration percentages etc. but am terribly confused.  Also - I want to try adding rye flour to my starter and or Reinhart's 'pain au levain' recipe, but am not sure then whether this will forever alter my 'white' sourdough starter.  I have been reading the posts on sourdough available on this site but am not having much luck sorting out this sourdough mess (in my head and in my fridge!).  Many thanks.  

PetraR's picture

You can feed your Sourdough Starter, than take half of it in a different Jar and use it to feed with the Rye Starter.

You can also take some of your existing Starter to convert it to whatever hydration the recipe calls for.

I convereted part of my 100% hydration Starter in to a 50 % hydration starter.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Can you give us the hydration % of your Starter and the recipe you want to follow.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Can you give us your starter hydration percentage and the recipe you want to follow?

108 breads's picture
108 breads

Yes, take a little bit, even just 10g, of your current starter and feed it with rye flour. Also maintain your regular starter. I sometimes do this for brief periods so that I do not compromise the "mother" starter. I have a fairly loosey, goosey starter feeding philosophy and some brief, easy advice.

isand66's picture

All above advice is perfect.  You have a few choices on how to proceed.  you need to know what hydration level the new recipe is using in regards to the starter.  you can than do 1 of 2 things; either create a new starter using a small amount of your existing starter or you can use your existing starter and adjust the flour and water accordingly per the overall formula.  This can be confusing so best to supply us with the recipe you want to try and we can explain the details.

amwilliams's picture

mother starter:

340g unbleached bread flour

227g water

113g seed culture

as per Peter Reinhart in ABED: also, do I have to keep feeding it with the same amount of flour and water as I only use about 127.5 g two times per week and seem to be discarding a lot!  

thanks for tips about rye flour starter  - will a starter made with rye work the same way in my current recipes?  

amwilliams's picture

new recipe:

Bertinet CRUST:

90g spelt flour

700g bread flour

400g ferment (based on 400g ferment, + 400g water, 800g bread flour)

650g water

20g salt



Reinhart BBA Sunflower Seed Rye

which uses a soaker:

5.65oz coarse whole rye

6oz water


5.5oz firm starter (4 oz barm = 16oz bread flour, 16 oz water, 7oz seed culture)

90z bread flour

0.38oz salt

0.14oz instant yeast

4 - 6oz water


*** hence my confusion - what is the point of keeping a starter going in the fridge if it can only be used for the few recipes in one particular BOOK?!  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

starter cultures can be used for a variety of recipes.  One culture can be fed more or less flour and more or less water to change it's consistency.  The more flour and less water you give your basic culture, the longer it takes to mature for using,   So stay flexible  and give the starter time to respond to changes.  

If you deal with a lot of different recipes, maintain your (mother) starter with one method and then use parts of it to prepare or feed for recipes.