Amazing Rye Starter "Superbug" is trippling!


Because my old spelt/kamut sourdough starter keeps producing bread that is still too sour for our liking, I thought I'll experiment and  try making a new starter. So 4 days ago  I started a new one with home milled organic rye flour (planning to convert it later to whatever). I have been feeding it once a day. On day 3 it doubled in about 12 hours but I waited 24 hours, till this morning until it got its next feeding. Because it is so active, I was planning to feed it again in 12 hours.  Well, the happy critter trippled in about 5 hours! And now , 9 hours after its feeding, it already collapsed a little. It has been getting warmer here, about 72 degrees F during the day. This may explain the rapid expansion. But, 2 days ago I took out my spelt / kamut starter from the fridge, getting ready to beak bread, and started feeding it as well. Because of our warmer weather, I did not put it in the oven with the lights on, instead  I left it on the counter, like the new rye starter. One would almost think my old starter went into a sulk  because of the competition,  it is barely rising. I should mention that I ran out of kamut flour, so I fed it spelt and rye flour. Tonight I'll probably stick it in the oven with the lights on ( it always seemed to like that) and see what will happen.

My question though has to do with the new rye starter: At the 12 hour mark I will remove some starter  and feed the remaining starter equal emounts by weight in flour and water, but then what? I will need to go to bed and can't babysit it, so can't feed it sooner. I read somewhere that the starter is not ready for broducing a good rise for  bread this soon, so should I  keep feeding it, perhas until it is at least 8 or 10 days days old? 

How often should I feed it? Feed it when it has doubled? ( This could be in 3 hours...!)

283 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 June 6

Hi Dorisw,

I think that there is a difference between 'useability' and 'maturity'. 

If your starter is so active, I can see no reason why you shouldn't use it for making bread.

In terms of feeding the starter on an ongoing basis to bring it to maturity, I would not be too fussed about the timing so much - 24hrs should be fine.  It the goodies run out of food they just become dormant, they don't 'die'.

Once your starter is 'mature' and stable, there is no reason why you shouldn't store it in the fridge and only need to feed it when you bake or on a weekly basis if you bake less frequently than that (unlikely perhaps).

Sounds like you are onto a good thing.

Keep on bakin'


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 June 6

 The last starter I made I felt in hindsight that it was ready to make bread after 3 days.  I would make bread with yours and see what it does.  Here is something else that you can try that will slow it down a little bit so you don't have to worry about feeding it so often.  Try making it a 50% hydration starter instead of a 100% hydration starter.

dorisw 2011 June 6

 Thanks farinam and Leaddog! I will try to bake bread with it in a couple of days and see what happens.

BTW how do you tell the difference between "useability" and "maturity"?

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 June 6

A good question /;-{)}

I used the term in the context of a new starter and it should be 'useable' when it is showing good signs of activity, such as yours obviously has.

Generally, I think a starter is considered to be 'mature' when it has had an extended period of nurturing so that the biological mix has stabilised (that is all the goodies have maximised and all the baddies have minimised/gone).  For example, a new starter can show good activity but still have baddies around and under the right conditions this can lead to some bad smells (acetone like).  If this happens, one approach is to feed more regularly to give the good guys more of a chance and, hey presto, the baddies (and the bad smell) disappears.  After an extended period of good activity and no bad smells it is quite unlikely that the baddies will get the upper hand again and this is what I would class as a mature starter.

Hope this helps and doesn't offend too many of the purists.


panfresca 2011 June 6 to the state of the starter. If it smells a bit fruity, a little beery, then it's probably ready. If the smells are a bit off, and particularly this early - it could be the leuconostoc stage, and yeast hasn't even begun to activate. The leuconostoc stage gives a great display of tiny bubbles, a false dawn - which is definitely not ready for baking. The smell will tell you which stage it is.


dorisw 2011 June 6

 I am very sensitive to "bad" smell, this one is strong, but not unpleasant at all; the kind you get from rye flour, definitely a beery kind of fermented smell. I fed it 1 1/2 h ago, it already has grown by 50% !

In contrast, the old "mature" spelt / kamut ( rye) starter took 24h to double.

 I am planning to use the new rye starter to bake spelt & kamut bread with. Or is there any reason why I should not? I have read that one should use starter with the same kind of flour that one then uses for baking; I assume this goes for bakeries? But I am no purist and baking strictly for home consumption. 

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