Should I begin a new starter


Hi all. I have made my own starter and have been using it for about 8 months now. If I feed it on rye it doubles in about 5 hours. If I feed it white flour it only increases by a little over 50% no matter how long I wait. When I convert it to rye, I do so incrementally, likewise when I convert back to white. I have tried being patient and feeding it twice a day over a couple of weeks to built its strength as a white starter, but I do not get anywhere.


My question is, should I start again? I would like a white starter as a basis, not a rye one. Are the yeasts within my starter constant? If I begin a new one, will it have a different configuration of yeasts or the same as the one I currently have, given that I will be creating it in the same kitchen?





143 users have voted.


nickb 2012 March 21


Hi Christine

I've only been making sourdough for a couple of years from a stong white flour starter, but I've found that it gets stronger and tastier the longer it lives. It does grow but only by about 30-40%, but it raises the loaf well every time.

My advice would be to keep the rye/mixed starter for mixed flour breads and start a white flour one as well. I don't know about the yeast strains, but would think they're going to be pretty similar from the same location. I can't see if that would affect the taste materially anyway. My white flour starter sulks sometimes, especially if I don't feed her for a week or two. I'm thinking about starting a rye starter soon as well. Let me know how you get on. Habe you made pizza bases with your leaven by the way? Am going to try that in a week or so.



farinam's picture
farinam 2012 March 22

Hello Cielkaye,

I maintain my stock by feeding with 20% rye and 80% bread flour.

For my 'normal' bread which contains a percentage of wholemeal, I just take half what I need from my stock, replenish that and build the starter with just bread flour in one go.  If I want a really white loaf, I use the three stage build technique that I outlined in my earlier spreadsheet blog and the amount of rye in the final loaf is insignificant.

When I made my rye loaf for the bake off, I just built the starter from my normal stock.  The main difference was that at 100% hydration with all rye, the starter was a 'dough' rather than a batter.  I ended up making the whole loaf at 100% hydration.

The amount of rise that you get depends on the 'fluidity' of the dough/batter and also the type of container that you have it in.  The more liquid (less stiff) the mix, the more chance there is of bubbles breaking and gas escaping giving less 'rise' for the same amount of activity.  Similarly, in a wider container, there is less support for the sponge with increased likelihood of structural failure and gas escape- a bit like a cake that sinks in the middle if it is cooked in too large a tin.

Let us know how you go.


Cielkaye 2012 March 22

 Thanks Farinam. That is mostly what I do, but a 20% rye and 80% white does not produce much rise in the starter. I can get my white loaves to rise about 50% but the proving takes over 12 hours and is difficult to fit into a schedule.


What I would love is a 100% white starter that gives close to a doubling, and info on how that starter was raised. I followed sourdom's method for my current one. I am using 13% protein white flour so I don't think that is a problem.

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 March 22

Hi Cielkaye,

I thought you were referring to your starter doubling in size - not your loaf.

What sort of oven spring are you getting? My loaves probably don't double during proving but I get good oven spring. And if you over prove you might get neither.

Have you tried a shorter proving time? What leads you to leave it so long? I assume you are working at room temperature?

How long does your starter take to peak? I find that is a good guide to how long the processing should take.

Good luck with your projects.


Cielkaye 2012 March 22

Sorry for not being more clear Farinam.

My rye starter doubles in size in 4 to 5 hours. Bread using rye starter is ready according to the poke test in about 8 hours.

When the starter is white only or mostly, it never doubles in size (to check how the starter is going I frequently give it feedings and leave it out of the fridge to see what is going on), it only increases by about a quarter to a third at best.

The bread from this white starter takes ages and ages before it passes the poke test.

I always get good oven spring, but I would like to be able to get a more lively white starter so the proving times are shorter, I often find I have to put it in the fridge before I go to bed (after about 15 hours) so it does not over prove overnight when I am not around to check on it.

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 March 23

Hello Cielkaye,

Take 90g of your almost white stock and add 45g of white flour and 45 g water in a 500ml pyrex jug.

Mix and cover with Gladwrap.

Leave on the bench and monitor the level in the jug and note the time at which it starts to collapse.

This is the time that you should be targeting for your dough preparation and proving - about half for each.

Make your dough and loaf working to this time schedule and don't worry too much about passing the poke test just be sure that your dough is well developed.

Score and bake according to your usual schedule.

Let us know how you go.


Cielkaye 2012 March 23

Hi Farinam, my starter is mostly rye at the moment. I have a lot of jars around here with times noted on in texta!!! Must get the jex out and clean them off.



lluisanunez's picture
lluisanunez 2012 March 22

What is the temperature range in your kitchen?

My white starter is "almost" white: I feed it with wheat flour at 80% extraction. You could also use white rye. When I use it in white doughs, they only take a slightly creamy colour which I much prefer to white-white.  The reason is I had the feeling that my starter behaved better than if feeding it white flour.  My kitchen in winter is about 19º-20ºC, and a starter made with 1+1+1 proportions doubles its volume in 4-5 hours.



Cielkaye 2012 March 23

 Thanks for the suggestion. I only know one sort of rye here in Australia. Anyone know where I can get some here in Oz? I was thinking that I might truck on with the rye blends, but try sifting some to use in the starter. Temperature range here is 20 - 24 at the minute. I am also going to try something different. I have some unsprayed apples that have that haze of yeast on them and I am going to make another starter using water with some skins soaked in it for the set up. Will report back.

I love this little community from all over the world drawn together by this one passion. 

Cielkaye 2012 March 24

 Well friends, I came close to disaster yesterday. I was not feeling great, and was just doing chores and stuff and decided to feed my starter and time it. I actually had two starters, both fed at the time with about half rye and half white. One had been intensively fed over a week or so and was faster than the other. I started with the slow one and got it fed and watered. I looked at the Pyrex jug the other one was in and thought it looked a bit grungy and needed a good clean. And folks I threw the whole lot down the drain without thinking. Lost the lot. Now the slower one has just taken 22 hours to double in size! 

On a good note, I baked two magnificent loaves of Fred yesterday with chia and wheatgerm in an all white base. Beautiful oven spring, and 20 hours to prove!

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