Switched flours, starter now sluggish

I have a white sourdough starter that was fed a constant supply of Anchor Lighthouse bread flour (Australian) and it was very active. As that flour was only available in 1Kg packets it was not cheap for regular bread baking. I have since switched to Laucke Wallaby flour which has received positive discussion on-line and is available in 5Kg bags. I noticed that my starter is considerably more sluggish since the switch to different flour. It has only been two days since the switch. Seeing as both flours are high protein and other factors such as temperature, water and hydration are the same, that it is a matter of the starter culture adapting to the new flour?
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farinam's picture
farinam 2011 June 15

Possibly you are right and it only needs a couple of more feeds to adapt.  Not at all sure why such a minor change would have an effect.

I use Wallaby and it forms the majority of feed to my starter.  I also use rye flour in my starter (10rye,35wallaby,45water) to replace what I use and to build up the levain.

Rye is said to be good tucker for the beasties so if the vigour doesn't come back after a couple more days, you could add some to see if that will give it a kick along.

Let us know how you go.



PS.  The recent cooler weather could also have slowed things down if you are keeping it at room temp.



davo 2011 June 15

I wonder does the initial "bread flour" contain some diastatic malt? That could make it more active.

anakha 2011 June 16
Thanks for the input guys. To add some more information, I split off a portion of the starter over a week back as insurance. I switched that starter over to the new flour at the same time and it's very active currently. Difference between the two is I've been taking the problematic starter and another pure rye starter to the office with me as the office is heated and my place is relatively cold, it being winter here. When home I keep all the starters in the oven and barely warm the oven to keep them at a 20-30 degC temperature. Was on a 24 hour feeding cycle, stepping it up to 12 hours for now and going to use the good backup as my main for the time being. Will persist with feeding the sluggish one and see if it comes good. No idea if either of the flours incorporate any diastatic malt but I doubt it. They are pure flours, not bread mixes. The Lighthouse flour was 12% protein, the Wallaby 11.9%.
peregrine 2011 June 17


I had exactly the same problem when I switched from Marg and Maree's white bread flour to Kialla's Organic white bread flour - and I thought the starter would have been happy and grateful that I changed to an organic flour! Not at all - thin, lack lustre bubbles and texture..sulked for at least 3 weeks. What changed things around for me, was taking some of the last of my previous starter, refreshed it with rye (I knew this would work because I had done it before), and THEN after anoother successful rye refresh, introduced my new white flour. Happily for all (as I was losing my confidence!) it worked. It took a couple of bakes and refreshes before Ireally felt it had settled down, but there was continual improvement until it has become just as strong as the previous one.

Strange isn't it?

All the best,


Midnite Baker's picture
Midnite Baker 2011 June 17

I have not changed flours on my 100% hydration starter "pet", but from what I've read above I might give it a kick up with some rye as I have not used my "pet" in about 3 months. 

 What I'm reading, reminds me of when I changed my Furry Pawed Pets diet.  And I'm wondering if this would work for changing the flours for the starters.  I started out with 1/4 new diet to 3/4 old diet.. fed this ration for two to three days.. then went to 1/2 new diet and 1/2 old diet.. again for two to three days.. then did a 3/4 new diet and 1/4 old diet for two to three days.. and finally 100% new diet.

I've read other posts where they have had this same problem with switching flours and the yeasty beasties did not like the change & rebeled like yours.  Maybe the beasties get an upset tummy just like our Furry Pets would get an upset digestive system if we changed their diet abruptly.  These are my thoughts and use them if they fit. Happy Baking, Everyone. M




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