The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Sourdough Observation

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staff of life's picture
staff of life

A Sourdough Observation

When I attempted to make a sourdough culture over a year ago, I used something called I believe Gold'n White, the only organic flour my store carried.  It was basically whole wheat without the bran.  The culture fermented so quickly that by the end of the first day, it was ready for a feeding.  I fed it, and fed it, stuck it in the refrigerator, and fed it some more until I realized that this starter was way too active for me.  This was all in one day.  It was the second sourdough culture I had started, so I had at least a bit of familiarity with creating and maintaining a culture. 

I decided to cheat and just bummed some starter off a friend.  For nearly a year, I fed it with Wheat Montana flour, which is unbleached, unbromated, and certified chemical-free.  My starter was very very active.  A few weeks ago, I decided that the protein content in the Wheat Montana was too high, so I switched over to KAF's Sir Galahad Artisan flour.  It's unbleached and unbromated, but not certified chemical-free.  My overwhelmingly active culture just turned...normal.  I have to use a larger portion of the ripe culture as seed for the next batch.  It's still doing fine, but it was a difference I noticed right off the bat. 

To get to the point of this post, in my experience, the more naturally grown flour definitely is richer in what cultures need (even if a bit much) to thrive.  Has anyone else had the same experience?


Thegreenbaker's picture

I havent made a sourdough culture (I did but I let it slide after a few weeks so I dont have that experience) and I cant remark on this exactly, but I use organic flour.......when it is in stock, and when its not I end up wit hovis, and I get alot of the ideas and differenced between organic and non organic. 

It stands to reason that

a. there would be a larger amount of natural yeasts on the grain as it isnt sprayed with chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and most importantly, fungiscides.  All of these, especially the latter, would (with common logic) cause some problem with the natural yeast.....probably killing it, or lessening the population of yeast able to grow on the grain. (yeast is pretty hardy though)


b. not having any chemical residues on the grain itsself, when feeding a starter with organic grain, it is entirely possible that they become very active due to the fact that they are not being inhibbited by those chemicals.


well in my opinion.  




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When you mention  "I have to use a larger portion of the ripe culture as seed for the next batch."  I can't help but wonder if that has more to do with the pH of the starter than anything else, by using more starter, the pH of the fed starter would swing quicker into the lower acid  range for desired growth.  The pH of the flours might be different here.    Mini O

staff of life's picture
staff of life

That was something I never considered.  I just assumed that the lack of pesticides in the flour meant that there were more wild yeasts in the flour, in addition to better food being present for the yeast.