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Starters/Levains | Sourdough Companion

Starters/Levains

Hello, I am Gerry (female). I am new to non-commercial yeast bread starters. In Early Jan'12 I was given a small amount of starter from rye. I did not feed it for a week but had it in the fridge. After a week, I put the starter into a clean glass jar & fed it for a day with 50gms spelt flour and 50gms water left it out for close to 48 hrs  then put it back in the fridge. A week later, I took it from the fridge and then started to feed it every day for a week with 40gm spelt organic flour and equal amount of water. Whilst there were tiny bubbles on the surface, nothing else occurred, but there was some blackening of the mixture at the sides of the jar.  So I flushed out 2/3rd of the mixture, poured the remaining mixture into a 2nd clean jar and added 50gms of organic spelt flour and equal water. I have now been feeding that mixture daily for a week but can see no large bubles or thickening of the mixture.  Each morning there is a water slurry on the top and some tiny bubles appear on the top if I stir a spoon through it.  What am I doing wrong and will I get a workable sourdough starter to use for bread? The mixture smells sour, there is a slight hardening & blackening of the mixture  at the sides of the jar but nothing else.  I have now used up to 2/3rd of a Kilo of organic spelt  flour trying to get a workable starter. I would welcome some advice. many thanks

8 comments

What I'd suggest, Gerry, is to use whole rye flour, as I find this provides the most stable starter. This can be used to make all types of bread.

You only need to keep a very small amount of starter, so I'd recommend taking just 20 grams of your existing starter and mixing that with 25g of water (bottled, unless you're entirely confident that your tap water is pure, chlorine-free) and 20g of whole rye flour.

Mark the level of the starter with a felt-tip pen (this helps you guage the level of activity at a glance), and leave in a warmish (c.25c) place. When the starter has at least doubled in volume, refresh in exactly the same way.

 

When your starter doubles in 12 hours or less, you're ready to bake!

 

Hope this helps.

 

Rob

 

PS, I find it's best to keep the starter out of the fridge. It's more stable, and keeping only a small amount means that it costs pence to refresh twice a day.

Hi Rob

Rye is not on my food agenda.  How can I get a starter with Spelt  or rice flour and the key question is what am I doing wrong with the spelt starter?  I buy a Rice sourdough bread which says it is made with rice sourdough. It does not say yeast.  ditto for the Spelt sourdough I buy.  So, I am thinking that if I can buy those breads why can I not make them myself? why can I not get the starter I have to work? and when do I know that the starter  is ready to use?  I have read the tips on this website for beginners starting out with sourdough starters.

I eat Rice Flour, Millet, Spelt.... I have too many food intolerances

Any tips on Rice Flour, Millet, Spelt soudough starters  would be welcome.

many thanks, Gerry

Hello gmac,

I have found that you can't much go wrong if you follow the directions given in SourDom's beginners blog on this site.

Usually best to work on the bench top, at least until your starter has a full head of steam.  Depending on your baking schedule, storing in the fridge is an option for later on.

Let us know how you go.

Farinam

 

 

Thanks Farinam

 

I work on the bench and my sourdough starter has been out for more than a week with additions each day. I use organic spelt flour.  It has not worked to date. i have read the suggestions for beginers on this website but can find no inspiration for use of spelt. so I am not making progress.

 

if you have any oterh suggestions to how organic spelt  or rice will work let me know. many thanks

Hi Gerry,

As I understand it there should be no problem with spelt.  The only thing I can think of is that if your are using a white spelt flour (not wholemeal) possibly the yeasts have departed with the bran and germ though that is a pretty long bow to draw.

Rye flour is touted as being a good medium to get a starter going so one possibility might be to spike your starter with (say) 20%) rye flour at each feed to see if that gets it going.  Once it is up and running then you can wean it off the rye (I see rye is off your list) back to the pure spelt.

The same technique might also be applied to rice flour.  That is, with a working starter progressively increase the proportion of rice flour and eventually eliminate the other grain flour.

There is another blog here about gluten free bread that it might be worth a read for you.

Hope this helps and good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Farinam

I am using wholemeal spelt flour. I decided to give a small amout of rye a try, so I added rye to the spelt mixture and have been doing so forthe past two days, then added this morning, a large spoon of spelt wholemeal again.  Before I added the spelt I notriced that there has been no change with the organis Rye flour.  so i am back to square 1.  There are tiny bubbles on the suface which return after I feed the existing mixture but nothing else.

 

I think I will give up wasting flour and money.  Thanks for your tips

Gerry

Hears an old Alaskan tip, add potato watter instead of water for a while. Evan if your starter is dead it will bring it back. Might not be quit the same but close. Just save the water off your next pot of mash potatoes and add a little of the mash to it so to giving it a little body. Set the extra water aside in a jar and use it till it is gone. I would try to make four feeding at least out of it. It will get a little grey but that is how Alaskans start there statter is with potato water and any smell should be consistatn with what a starter should be.

Your not useing wheat so I would throw out the measuring gide, and do your best by eye, to make it the right consistancy. if there is exta liquid add more flower, DO NOT THOW IT OUT!!!

Don't give up!

H.A.B.

Gerry,

I have found the that the trick to getting any starter going from scratch is to use the pineapple technique.

Day 1: 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice and one tablespoon of flour (Rice or Spelt, white or brown don't matter). Just mix together and leave on the counter.

Day 2: Same as above. 

Day 3: Same as above but now ad two tablespoons of each and mix.

Day 4: By now you should see signs of life. You can replace the pineapple juice with water but continue to double the volume of starter you have by feeding. You may at this point need to start feeding it twice a day.

By Day 7 you should have a starter you can bake with.

This technique is just about full proof.