The rising of the starter vs the type of flower used.


Hi, I made my starter with organic rye flower and it started beautifully, very active with a nice smell.

I then switched to organic white flower. 1 cup of rye starter with 1 cup of white flower.

Made some pancakes with it and they were awesom

But ever since the switch and using only white flower as feed it just stopped rising.

The smell is not a sweet as with rye. It ferments OK with bubbly foam but it never rises.

I used the Presidents Choice Organic unbleached, pre-sifted, enriched all-purpous flower. Ingredients: Organic wheat flower, vitamins and minerals(niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)



Even with no rise in the starter will the bread recipe rise ?

Should I try to find a different make of white flower?

Any ideas?

125 users have voted.


mlucas 2011 March 2

Hi noyfbja,

Where do you live? You must be in Canada, as that is the same white AP flour that I use. (Although it's possible that it's branded PC but from different mills throughout Canada. I think though that it's all from Prarie Flour Mills in Manitoba.) I'm in Winnipeg.

I have no problems with that flour, but I've heard that when you suddenly switch flour types, your starter can get confused for a while. I would recommend to use a blend of rye & white for a few feedings before switching directly to white. You could start with 75% rye, 25% white, then gradually increase the ratio of white to rye.

In fact I almost always use a little rye in my starter refreshes, I have the idea that it keeps it healthy. But when I build a starter/levain out of just white, it does perform fine.

Note my favourite SD pancakes are with about 20% rye flour, 80% white AP.




noyfbja 2011 March 2

Thanks for the reply.

I'm feeding it 100% rye and it just started to grow like a bat outa hell !

The smell is also nice. I will gradually switch back to white as recommended.

I also had the same idea as you, to add a bit of rye at every feeding after the switch is complete.

I think it will give it a better taste and help with the rise.


I am correct in assuming that the starter has to rise before making bread and not just foamy bubbles?

Do you wait until the starter has reached it's growth peek before mixing it in the bread recipe?


I'v been wanting to make bread for the past 2 weeks.. boy this is long!

Postal grunt 2011 March 2

When feeding your starter, the hydration level- the ratio of water to flour by weight, is very important. Feeding a starter one cup of flour and one cup of water won't kill your starter as long as you feed it at the proper time. The 1c to 1c feeding equals a 166% hydration. At this level, the yeast spores have fast access to food and your starter may peak before you know it. A lower hydration level starter is usually easier to control because the yeast feed slower.

Using a feeding schedule based on weight rather than volume is much better and usually costs less as well. I maintain my starter at around 80% hydration. I can adjust it up to a 100% level for a 1-2-3 sourdough loaf or take it down to 60% for refrigerator storage when I go on vacation. It maintains an activity level that enables me to build a two step rye starter in less than 18 hours or I can use a flour blend that matches my loaf's flour formula with similar results. This can be done by maintaining a starter as small as 100g. I discard almost nothing and I'm only baking 2 900g loaves and a pizza every week.

Do get a scale. It's a worthwhile investment for your time and money.


HopesHope 2011 March 3

I, too, live in Winnipeg and had not luck using AP flour, although it was not Presiden't's choice.   I went to safeway and bout a mixed flour, of Whole grain whole wheat, white flour, and flax seeds.  This is what I feed and maintain my starter with, however, when making bread, I do use the white bread flour sometimes mixed with Spelt or Millet. 



Maybe you just got a bad sack of flour.

mlucas 2011 March 4

Agree with Postal Grunt, the scale is definitely important investment. I keep my starter at 100% hydration and I think that's a really good way to go for a newbie, as you don't need to do any math on refreshes, and a lot of recipes require a 100% hydration starter anyway.


Sorry I missed that you were using equal amounts by volume. Until you get a scale you can try using about 1/2 cup of water per cup of flour, that will be about 80-90% hydration depending on the weight of your flour. (or if you really want you could do 1/2cup + 2 Tablespoons water, that would be very close to 100% hydration, but really just get a scale!)


I got a Startfrit scale at Canadian Tire for $15 on sale, and it works very well. It takes a 9V battery but seems to last forever, and unlike a previous scale I owned, it waits a few minutes before turning itself off (the old one turned itself off way too fast, often losing measurements).


You should definitely try to use your starter to make bread at around its peak volume, doesn't have to be perfect but try to get it within a couple hours of peak volume. (I think it's better to err on the early side, i.e. before its collapsed, but even if it just started to collapse it should be fine.) For a 100% hydration starter this means lots of bubbles, and if in a big enough bowl you might notice a very slight dome shape.


If your starter does double in volume, you can use it to make bread now. Go for it!




P.S. For those of you in Winnipeg, or anywhere in western Canada I guess, where do you get your rye flour? I get mine at Bulk Barn but it's "stoneground dark rye" and I just read in Hamelman's Bread that dark rye is not very good to use compared to medium or whole rye. So I may have to find a different source. Bulk Barn is great for finding all the other speciality flours though (rice, spelt, kamut, red fife, even quinoa flour!).

HopesHope 2011 March 4

I buy the mixed flour at Safeway on Leila and McPhilips..  The Kamut, Spelt, Millet, Brown rice syrup red fif, and quinoa  I buy at Vita.  The price is not that bad. 

noyfbja 2011 March 6

I'm in Montreal,

I re fed my starter organic rye then slowly reintroduced  white flower and is now rising beautifully.

I add a bit of rye to the white when feeding it. I think that helps allot.

Maybe my initial rye starter was not mature enough when I switched to white.


Will be making bread tomorrow morning. :)

wanda1262 2011 March 11

I'm new to starter,my starter looks good , but by the 4th day, it's thin ,not thicking and not rising.also how often do i feed a new starter

HVHB 2011 March 12


I'm new to starter,my starter looks good , but by the 4th day, it's thin ,not thicking and not rising.also how often do i feed a new starter



Follow your instinct, but:  Are you refrigerating the starter?  Do you refresh it before baking?


It sounds like the starter has run out of food and needs another refresh.


HopesHope 2011 March 11

I think this varies from person to person, but at the stage you are in, I fed mine twice a day, morning and night.

I don't know how much water to flour you are using in your starter.   I use equal parts flour to water.  If the starter gets to watery, then cut back on the water, and add more flour.    What I would do now, is not put any water in your starter and put a little flour at a time until you get it back to the consistency you like.


I'm not a profession though, I'm a home baker, and go by what I like and sense. 


I'm sure others will also post who have more experience than I, with sourdough.

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