The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

brown rice flour starter?

pcake's picture

brown rice flour starter?

i'm allergic to modern wheat, and my previous starters were made with spelt, usually white spelt.  they started out pretty active, smelled and tasted great, but after a while they all failed or became too hard to maintain.  maybe it's me, but i thought i'd try a brown rice sourdough starter using bob's red mill brown rice flour and kicking it off with a pinch of instant yeast, which is very fresh and very lively.

well, the starter became active very soon, within a day it was rising, which concerned me - my reading and my spelt starters lead me to expect it to take days longer.  the starter also smelled strongly of banana - go figure!  it didn't small like grain at all, just fruit.  

it's about 80f in our kitchen, and i started with 4 Tb flour, 1/2 tsp yeast and enough filtered water to make a wet but not liquid starter.  

is the smell or speed normal for a brown rice starter or is it - as i'm guessing - something not to mess with?


clazar123's picture

There were a few posters here that developed some very nice GF starters and recipes but both went on to write books and have websites to purchase their information. One of them has even deleted their links and posts from this site. Use the search feature here and see what you can find-they would be more than 5 yrs old.


GF starter can be done. I do advise you start a culture with SMALL amounts (a few tablespoons). It is less costly, easier to physically manage and just as effective. If you need a larger amount of starter for a recipe you "build" the amount over 1-2 days from your "seed" or "mother". Some of these articles recommend having a GALLON sized jar! Yikes! You only need 2-3 tablespoons of flour to start a culture. Yeast is yeast is yeast. It has the same requirements for growth no matter the medium it is grown in-food,water,warmth (same as human comfort range), appropriate pH to discourage the bad guys from growing. Lactobacillus usually grow with yeast and provide the pH adjustment to the culture. They grow a lot faster than yeast so often the first bubbly activity is the lactose population exploding. Go a few more days at the proper temp (about 82F) and the yeast will overcome and surpass.

Finally found the post I was looking for. I wrote a reply and the technique works for any sourdough:


Recipe for brown rice sourdough bread and good link for anything cultured:

Teff flour starter:


There is so much info out there(some of it conflicting). Growing a yeast culture is like having any larger pet-it needs food, water, shelter, an occasional bath and daily attention (weekly if refrigerated).

Brown rice has been around forever and Im sure it has been cultured forever. The world has forgotten how to use grains that are not wheat. At many times in human history, wheat was not present-the world started out GF or close to it. We just have to learn how to work with these grains again.

I will follow with interest.

EDIT: It occurs to me that your culture (and whatever is first growth) may be hungry. That "banana" smell sounds like acetone and lactose/yeasts produce that when they run out of food. Stir and see if it goes away or feed (without discarding-you need all the yeasties you can get to grow). If you have 1-2 tbsp. flour originally, feed about the same and add water to make a pancake batter consistency. See what happens. Sti several times/day.


pcake's picture

i've actually read some of those threads before, but i'll be reading the others with interest, and making some notes, too.  i've had a lot of trial and error, and i had one starter that lived and baked well for months before suddenly going bad.  i still don't know if it's me or if it's spelt - particularly white spelt, but i've had brown spelt die suddenly after weeks or a couple months of good bakes and normal behavior when fed.

i have advice from dabrownman and i also see on culturesforhealth that their support team recommended feeding the gluten free starter 4x per day if it's not doing well.  i can do that as i work at home and wake up half way through my sleep each day to make my husband's breakfast. 



dabrownman's picture

that turned out great but most folks that do rice staters use brown rice.  No instant yeast is needed and it actually gets in the way and slows down the low pH tolerant yeast you want from taking over a few days but no harm no foul. Since there is no gluten you want to be on the dry side rather than the wet side.

I just used 30 g of rice flour and 20 g of water and let it sit for 24 hours and then add 30 g of rice flour and 20 g of water and let it sit for another 24 hours.  then toss blaf and feed again the same 30/20 mix fo the next two days and after 4 days ou toss half and feed it 60 flour and 40 water the next 2 days and by then it should be ready to go on day 7

here is what I did for the black rie starter which was a bit wetter

Community Baggie Bake - To the dark side and beyond!
pcake's picture

* sigh * 

the gluten-free sources i've read about starter say to use brown rice. think that'll be okay? 

btw, that's an adventurous starter!

pcake's picture

i weighed both the water and flour on a scale, and the starter is very dry - so dry that there's dry powdered flour mixed in with it that won't incorporate.  is it supposed to be that dry?  i'm using bob's red mill stone ground brown rice flour.

pcake's picture

i started a whole spelt starter just for the heck of it.  at feeding 2 (24 hours in) i decided to add some orange juice.  the starter had been behaving normally, but about 2 hours after the OJ it had gone crazy, more than doubling in size energetically.  didn't see that coming!

pcake's picture

so since my water seemed overwhelmed by the rice flour, i added enough more water to make a very thick paste.  this morning, the starter doubled.  it's too thick to get bubbly  - i'm used to much wetter starters - but the smell and texture have changed.  exciting!