The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye vs White Starter

Killahtron's picture

Rye vs White Starter

Hello! First post here so looking forward to learning. 


I decided this morning to use a rye starter instead of a white starter for a white sourdough. This is the first time I've used this particular combination. It seems to be going well so far. I guess what I'm interested in is the experience that other folk have had with this combination. 

I'm currently in the first prove stage and it would normally take about 3 to 3 & 1/2 hours. However, with the rye starter it seems to be moving along faster. It's not warmer than it was the other day (I'm Scottish so it's very rarely warm). Is this what other folk have experienced?



idaveindy's picture

Welcome to TFL.

Rye is known to have more enzymes than white/refined wheat flour.  It's popular for _starting_ a starter. The enzymes break down starch to sugar.  More sugar means more fermentation.

The enzymes are mainly in the bran, so higher extraction and whole grain wheat also has this effect.

I used to feed my starter home-milled whole grain flour, but switched back to white/refined flour because the whole grain made the starter too powerful, made fermentation too fast (for me) and required more frequent feeding.

So yes, my experience corresponds to your observation.

Killahtron's picture

Thanks for that. I'm keen to learn a wee bit more about the processes that are going on. With regards to the sugar, assume that's why it has that sweet beer kind of smell?

Grant Y's picture
Grant Y


I personally love rye starter. It moves the fermentation along a little faster like you experienced, and it adds whole grain flavor to the mix without having to change the rest of the recipe. I usually begin my starter with rye flour when creating it from scratch, just to get it going (the enzymes mentioned by in another comment seem to really help in the early stages) and then whenever I need to breathe life back into a sluggish white starter I will feed it with whole grain rye flour. It seems to really help. 


Killahtron's picture

I love rye too. I have a white and a rye starter that I use for different things, but this was the first time I've used a rye starter to make a white loaf. It's come out well. 

dbazuin's picture

Sinds this switch my fermentation takes more time. 
About 4 a 4,5 ours with 15% preferment and 30°C. 

I don’t mind the extra time.


Timothy Wilson's picture
Timothy Wilson

I'd always used a white starter until I didn't have it at home on quarantine and was just from a supermarket. I've tried to use a rye starter and I really liked it. I am not sure about the time for cooking, I think it's the same. Can recommend using a rye starter everyone who isn't about it yet. It worth trying.

Killahtron's picture

I'm coming round to that view. I use my white just so it's maintained and fed, but I do prefer a white sourdough with a rye starter. I don't think the flavour compares.