The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What kind of flour for starter

home_mill's picture

What kind of flour for starter

I have never used a starter and recently received some dried sourdough starter.

Does it matter what kind of flour I use to start and feed it?

Normally I mill my own flour using Prarie Gold wheat. Would it better to use refined bread flour from the store?

 Thanks - Joel


goetter's picture

For the first rekindling, I'd want to feed the culture whatever it was being fed before drying.  Probably white.

For subsequent maintenance, you can use either.  If you don't normally buy refined flour, you needn't buy it especially for the starter.  A whole-grain starter will overripen more quickly than one grown on refined flour.  Also, you may appreciate the convenience of having a bag of the long-lasting white stuff for regular feedings.  Pick one flour or the other and use it exclusively to develop a stable culture.

You can still easily make pretty close to a 100% whole grain bread with a white-fed starter, if that's your thing.  E.g., for a recipe nominally totaling 500g flour, I'll seed 200g of whole-grain flour with an inoculum of 25g white flour (40g total starter mass out of my culture, which I keep at 60%), let that ripen, then add the remaining 300g.  That's 25g out of a total of 525g, or 4.8% refined.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

When you are restarting a dried starter, or reviving a weakened one, you want to improve the chances that the starter you restart or revive is the one you want.


The number of microorganisms on white flour is far lower than on whole wheat flour. There is a greater chance that some stray organism on whole wheat flour could take over while the starter is in a weakened state. It isn't terribly likely, but it is possible.


This is the only situation in which I would consider using bleached flour as the bleaching kills critters.

Good luck,