The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wanting a ancient or old starter. Are flakes a good start?

Whit30's picture

Wanting a ancient or old starter. Are flakes a good start?

Hello to everyone,

Very new here and to the hobby. I am wanting to obtain an old starter and see several for sale in "flake" form. Is this a good way to start or is it best to try and find a starter that hasn't been dried?

Thank you!

clazar123's picture

Dry starter is easily revived. Make sure it isn't just sourdough "flavor".

Why not start your own starter? ! tbsp. flour, 2 tbsp. non-chlorinated water (a bottle of spring water works well), stir, wait. A little simplistic but there are plenty of posts on "how to" . Best way to learn how to work with a starter is to make it from scratch.

You don't list any info on your bio. Where are you located? Perhaps you are near another Fresh Loafer.

Welcome and watch out. It can be totally absorbing!

treesparrow's picture

The important thing is whether your starter works or not, not whether it's ancient. Reviving a dried one is almost the same process as building a new one.

Also, there may be a starter closer to you than you think: since I started baking my own sourdough bread, I found out that I only would have needed to ask my neighbour for some, as he's been doing it for decades! Bread is not a typical conversation topic for most people, but if you bring it up, you might be surprised! And if there's a traditional bakery close to you, they might be happy to sell you some starter. That's what my neighbour did in the beginning. Worth asking!

DivingDancer's picture

ANY starter, regardless of where it originated, almost immediately takes on the characteristics of whatever you are feeding it.  So an "old" starter that you bring home from San Francisco quickly takes on the characteristics of whatever flour you are feeding it in Michigan (for example).  You just want a viable, healthy starter.  I'll second those that have already said "Why not start your own?"  The skills that you learn building your own starter are the very same skills that you are going to need in order to revive a dried starter and keep it healthy.

dabrownman's picture

They have spent years and millions of dollars lying all over the world to collect every kind of SD starter they think is unique in the world and put it into their living library in Belgium.

Justanoldguy's picture

The folks at Puratos seem to agree with DDancer. Here's a quote from the link you gave that describes their maintenance routine. 

The actual sourdoughs themselves are kept in optimal condition in refrigerators at 4°C/39°F and refreshed every two months with the original flour with which it was made, thereby replicating conditions in the original bakery.

I could be wrong but that seems to me to indicate that a change in flour will induce a change in the starter's microbes. 

AnotherLoaf's picture

Thank you so much for the link! (Maybe you could post it on the Home page for others to find?)  I've been lost there for about two hours, and should be working....OPPS. Did you happen to get to the "Blog" page, and read about "bakers that become their bread"? Fascinating, really. Did you register your sourdough? marybeth

dabrownman's picture

NMNF Whole grain rye starter to DanAyo from AZ to LA in a regular letter envelope.  I dried it in my dehydrator before sending it to him.  It took 10 days to get there for some reason but he revived it in a couple of days no problem.  

It is easy to make one for yourself though using Peter Reinhart's Whole grain rye method that takes 4 days and makes bread on day 5 with left over starter for storage.

Day 1- 30 g of whole grain rye and 25 g of water.  mix cover with plastic wrap and leave for 24 hour

Day 2 add 30 g of WG rye and 25 g of water Mix and let sit for 24 hours covered in plastic

Day 3 - divide in half.  Add 30 g of WG rye and 25 g of water to each half, stir and cover each with plastic

Day 4 Add 30 g of WG Rye and 25 g of water stir and let sit for 24

Day 5 Make levain for a loaf of bread with one half and divide the other one in half.  Feed one 60 g of flour and 40 g of water for storage in the fridge after it rises 25% and feed the other one 30 g of flour and 25 g of water to make a levain for bread 2 on the next day.

Works every time without fail at 75 - 78 F.

Happy SD baking 

Justanoldguy's picture

The last two starters I built developed more quickly than others I've built in the past. The main difference in these was the use of freshly milled rye and white wheat. Even if you don't have a mill but do have a blender you might want to try using whole rye berries to get it off the ground. You can probably find them at a supermarket or health food store in a relatively small quantity (Bob's Red Mill Organic Rye Berries was what I used). Even though your blender won't make fine rye flour it will break up a few tablespoons of the berries sufficiently to get the starter underway. I followed the protocol laid out in The Pineapple Solution, search for it on this site. The first starter I built several years back used commercially milled rye and it worked fine. The last one using freshly milled rye worked significantly better. I think that's because the rye hadn't gone through all the processes necessary to turn it into flour, put it into a package and on a retailer's shelf. All the nutrients in the grain were there along with all the microbes that are present on the grain when it was harvested. When I used the rye starter to seed a whole wheat starter the results were spectacular. You can get a starter going from scratch in about the same time that getting one mailed to you and revived would take. What have you got to loose other than a finger if you ain't careful with that blender? 

Filomatic's picture

You cannot fail with this, link below.  As others say, the starter becomes the local environment almost immediately.  Sure, you could use a laboratory to propagate a particular strain of starter yeasts and bacteria.