same ol' newbie problem with starter :(


HI there,


Thankyou for having syuch a great site. I developed a yen for making sourdough, however am having a problem establishing a starter.


A person had sent me the 'fool proof' method she uses

1/4 C flour

1/2C water

1 teaspoon honey


feed with the same amount(not honey) until fermentation occurs

I used wholemeal spelt flour and tap water

I have done this for 6 days now. Temperature is about 25 on top of the fridge, and the mix smells a bit floury/ yeasty and not at all unpleasant. There is separation between each feeding, but not much else. The mix is in a wide mouth glass jug in which I leave a plastic shopstick to stir. I cover with a loose weave old tea towel. This morning I had to half the mixture and put into another jug as I have too much. Any ideas please, I'm so keen to start cooking bread.

Thanking you in advance


157 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2012 January 9

Hi Yvette,

As far as foolproof methods go, I can highly recommend the beginners blogs by SourDom on this site.

The proportions of flour and water would be giving you a fairly high hydration and that probably explains the separation that you are getting.

My inclination would be to increase the amount of flour in relation to the water until the mixture is like a thick batter and will thickly coat (at least 5mm) a spoon.  I don't have any experience with spelt flour, but I would be inclined to reverse the volumes as I understand spelt is usually 'skinnier' than wheat flour.

The other thing is, if you have some electronic kitchen scales, you are probably better to weigh your ingredients.

When you are developing a starter, it is usual to discard a proportion (half) at each feed to keep the quantity under control.  Once you have a good active starter and are baking you can store it in the fridge between bakes and not have any waste.

Let us know how you go.


yvette 2012 January 9

thankyou, actually had made a typo and the quantities are 1/4 C to 1/4 cup. however will have a read and thicken up a bit. no electronic scales but my other ones work well. will let you know. at leaest it still smells good


esbkk 2012 January 11

Go by weight.

Use either equal amounts of water and rye flour or 120/100 and at 25C should take about six days or so and once established convert to other flours.  

Feed every day.

And forget the honey or any other addatives.

Dark rye flour starters are considered the most stable and once established usually live forever ...

HopesHope 2012 January 11

Spelt flour is "wheat" and you will not get the rise you are looking for, or the bubbles, however, you described your starter as being 'yeasty",   if this is true, you have already a successful starter.  


When using Wheat flour, or Spelt  to get a rise you will need to use either white flour in conjunction with the Spelt or use "Wheat Germ", so the bread will rise as it should...


You can buy wheat germ at a health food store, and it's not expensive at all.




farinam's picture
farinam 2012 January 11

Hello Hopeshope,

I am wondering what role wheat germ is supposed to play?  I've not heard it mentioned in this sort of context before.


HopesHope 2012 January 13

I'm sorry I didn't mean to say Wheat Germ, it's actually Wheat Gluten instead....


I was giving my pets Wheat Germ as a supplement at the time...

yvette 2012 January 11

Progress report.


As my attempted starter didnt smell 'off' and hadnt got any horrid looking mould growing, I have perservered with it. I now using organic white/spelt and sometimes all white flour. I'm also weighing rather than measuring.  I've been composting excess and its looking good - some decent bubbles and no more separation. I'm feeding 3 x a day and our kitchen is still a lovely 25 C. A good lesson in patience. This morning when I halved my mix , I put it into another jug so I can give my friend some too.


Thanks guys

yvette 2012 January 13

progress report 2, I hope this encourages others like me to stick with it and dont give up after a week

We had a suden dive in air temperature so my ktichen went to about 22.

I bought a big bag of bread making flour after I ran out of the rest and decided to feed 12 hourly yesterday. Checked the babies this morning before work and by the time I got home  I had almost a doubling in one jug and a bowl, almost there with the other 2 . I fed 3 and have added flour to the best performer to hopefully have my first loaf by late this evening or tomorrow. yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa



Post Reply

Already a member? Login