Changing cultures



I'm about to start my first sourdough starter and have a question. I am wondering what happens to the culture when you change the flour used to feed it. I am planning to use beremeal eventually, but as that is scarce (you can only get it from here: I thought I would start with rye. If I want a bere culture, should I start the starter with that, or will the change to feeding with bere later on change the culture?

Thanks, Mark


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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 August 14

Hi Mark,

The yeasts and so forth that do the good things come with the flour that you use but whilst there might be some unique beasties associated with what you use, they will establish when you introduce the new material.  I suppose it is possible that there will be survivors from your rye culture that might have some influence on the final balance but who's counting as long as it makes fine bread.

Good luck with your projects,


Thraundil 2012 August 15

Another option would be to begin your starter with just a small amount of your "special" flour. Like Farinam said, the cultures that will end up taking root in your starter are the ones found in the flour you use, and whatever might come in from the air. If you mix 2 types of flour, logic would dictate that cultures capable of fermenting both types would start to develop. 

One small issue to keep in mind. I checked out the link you posted, it seems to me this Beremeal is a variation of barley. Keep in mind that barley has next to no rising potential. It cant form gluten strings, and ferments even more slowly than wheat in most cases - in olden times it was referred to as "hunger meal" since you would only ever use it for bread if the wheat ran out. The bread they baked from barley flour were flat and didnt pack much taste, this is why barley went into bear and wheat into bread - and not the other way around. Of course, if you have experience with it and a taste for it go right ahead, just a little word of warning ;) 

MkII 2012 August 16

Thanks both for your advice. I've just done the day 2 feeding, putting in half bere and half rye. 

The local custom for bere is to make bannocks or biscuits/shortbread. Certainly the bannocks fall apart almost as soon as you look at them, so the lack of gluten is obvious (though I think I have been wilfully ignoring how obvious!). The miller at Barony said I could use a rye recipe for bread, which is what started my interest, though how successful it will be remains to be seen. Most bere recipes combine it with wheat so that might have to be the answer. I hope to have results to share before too long...



Thraundil 2012 August 16

Rye has similar "problems". Although not as critical as barley. Rye has very poor gluten development as well (this is why rye breads are almost always baked in tins - they cannot hold a shape). The only flour in which the gluten strings can really be stretched out efficiently IS just that wheat flour. Although for biscuits and shortbread, shape is not really very important... And wholegrain barley/rye sounds kinda delicious! Call barley the hunger foods, it stillhas a wonderful taste. Cant wait to see your results. 

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