The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cocoa powder and other unconventional starter foods?

Scrollin'Trollin''s picture

Cocoa powder and other unconventional starter foods?

I stumbled across this page a while back that explained how creating a sourdough starter with cocoa powder would innoculate it with certain strains of lactobacilli that produce a milder, sweeter levain. I was intrigued and tried to do more research on cocoa powder starters but couldn't find anything other than that one website, not terribly surprising given how expensive I'd imagine a cocoa powder starter diet to be. Still, it got me wondering if there were another non-grain foods that one could feed a starter to give it certain taste or levaining properties and after some searching, I found a few other examples including potato flakes and nut flours (for gluten-free starters). I'm wondering if these foods would noticably change the flavor of the final loaf but only out of curiosity; I have no intention of testing it for myself lol. Anyone else heard of or tried out some unconventional starter foods and noted a difference in performance?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for a long time to feed and grow yeast.  Cocoa powders are high in fats and rather low in carbs so I can imagine they may not be ideal.  Feeding yeast and bacteria will be the challenge....maybe. Vanilla is also fermented. 

Look into fermentation for other sources.  Vegetables, fruit, yeast waters, etc....  pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, cider, wyoung wine, beer, tubers like tapioca or other starchy roots like cattail, sunflower.  Have fun!

about the article...and following the sourdough club...I like this comment:

"If you are trying to manage a starter in tropical heat then it is useful to know that the addition of cocoa slows this starter down."

andythebaker's picture

that was fascinating

idaveindy's picture

sourdough book is currently $7 in Kindle format.  Once or twice a year it goes on sale for $1.99, making it inexpensive to get her starter wisdom, tips and tricks.