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Rye Sourdough Starter in Easy Steps

Our trusty, fruity rye sourdough starter culture

A lot has been written about sourdough starter cultures. You can find long and elaborate articles on how to make your own starter while using things like pineapple and grapes. They are almost mythical creatures to be treated with the utmost care and fed every evening at the same time while standing on your head. The truth is much simpler. My rye starter seems almost indestructible. And the only thing I did is mix some whole grain rye flour with water and wait…

What is a starter?

A starter is a piece of dough which contains wild yeast and bacteria which you use to make your bread. The wild yeast produce carbon dioxide (and a bit of alcohol too) to make your bread airy. It is the bacteria that can give your bread the sour taste, this is because the bacteria transform the starch of the flour into lactic acid, acetic acid and alcohol. Both the acid and the alcohol give sourdough bread their unique and interesting taste. You add an amount of your starter to a larger amount of flour and water mixture like you normally use commercial yeast to a poolish or a biga preferment. It works just the same only slower. Commercial yeasts are selected and bred for speed by the big yeast companies but wild yeast works at a slower pace. This is why bread recipes for sourdough bread tend to take much longer and consist of more steps.

Why a rye starter culture?

For my sourdough baking I use a culture which is made with 100% whole rye flour. A sourdough culture based on rye flour is easier to maintain, it does not go into a slurry like a wheat flour starter when you forget about it, it is easier to stir because it has almost no gluten and it smells very very nice, a bit like fruit. It is also very forgiving in the amount you feed it. You feed your culture after baking to replenish your stock. Normally I only feed it once a week, after my weekend baking, I just give it a few table spoons of water and rye flour, stir and ready!

The birth of a new starter culture

Before starting your own culture

First thing: work clean! Use a clean jar and always use clean spoons to stir and add flour to the mixture. The organisms living on your hands can contaminate your starter and spoil it! Throw away your starter and start over when it develops an awful smell or grows moldy in whichever color, it probably has picked up a bad bacteria in the first feeble stages of the starters life.

After some research I found that the most likely truth of the source of the yeast and bacteria is the flour itself. The yeast and bacteria live on the outside of the grain (just like the yeast to make wine lives on the skin of the grapes). This is why you need (preferably organic) whole grain rye flour, because you need the outside bran of the grain as a source of yeast and bacteria.

I start with a relative wet starter and when the starter is alive add more flour to maintain a more stiff starter. I start with a small amount of water and flour as not to waste too much flour, because you have to throw halve of the starter away with each refresh. When your starter is alive and kicking you always can scale up the size of your starter simply by adding more water and rye flour.

Be sure to use water which does not contain chlorine. Water companies sometimes add a little chlorine to your tap water to kill all bacteria and probably also the yeast in the water, so it is not a good idea to use this for building a sourdough starter. If in doubt you can use bottled water.

And now on with the easy steps!

Day 1: Take a small clean jar (I use a 400ml jam jar) and add 40ml of water and 40g of whole grain rye flour, stir with a clean spoon for 30 seconds. Draw a line to mark the height of the mixture with a permanent marker on the jar so you can see any activity easily. Loosely close the lit of the jar and store at room temperature (about 20-21 degrees Celcius) out of direct sunlight for 24 hours.

Day 2: If you are lucky you should see some little bubbles of air in the mixture. The smell of the mixture at this stage is not very nice, a bit musty but not totally off putting. Add 20ml of water and 20g of whole grain rye flour. Stir with a clean spoon for 30 seconds. Draw a new mark line if needed. Loosely close the lit of the jar and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 24 hours.

Some bubbles are visible after 24 hours – It’s alive, its alive…

Day 3: Your mixture should now be getting active. Mine did more than double in size during the last 24 hours. If your mixture is not very active yet, throw away half of the mixture and repeat the directions of day 2 again. The smell of your mixture should be a little nicer at this stage. When your mixture is active, throw away two third of the mixture and add 30ml of water and 30g of whole grain rye flour, stir with a clean spoon for 30 seconds and store at room temperature.

This is called refreshing or feeding your starter. By throwing out half of your mixture and adding new rye flour you give the starter fresh food (the rye flour) to work on, so all your new yeast and bacteria can get ‘stronger’ and multiple again. You also dilute the alcohol and the acid they produce so the yeast and bacteria do not ‘poison’ themselves.

Day 4: Your starter should now be fully active and strong enough to double or triple in size during a 24 hours time period. We need to refresh it again before we can use this starter because the acid producing bacteria need more time to develop than the yeast. So throw away two third of the mixture and add 30ml of water and 30g of whole grain rye flour, stir with a clean spoon for 30 seconds and store at room temperature.

The starter is now 36 hours old and has tripled over the past 12 hours after feeding

Day 5: If your starter did at least double in size during the last refreshment your starter should now be ready for your first baking project. At this stage your starter should be developing a nice fruity smell during the next few days. You can now let your starter rest for a few days. Mine developed a nice fruity tone on day 6 which got even nicer on day 7.

If your culture did not double between day 4 and 5 repeat the directions of day 4. Just keep using and maintaining the starter from now on, after a while the color of your starter should get a little bit more beige after it has tripled after a feeding (notice the difference in color of my old and new starter). This is a sign of maturation of the starter and the production of acid.

How to maintain your starter

A rye starter does not need much maintenance. We store our starter in the fridge. We bake (almost) every weekend so our starter is being refreshed at least each week. We keep about 120g of starter of which we use about 60g up to 100g each week. We just add water and rye flour and stir, so we have about 120g of starter again. We keep our starter quite stiff, almost like a thick paste. The reason for this is that it will develop a lot slower with less water, so it matures during the week and is ready for baking the next weekend.

After feeding we keep the starter on the kitchen table at room temperature (usually around 21C) for about 12 hours so it can develop and double or triple in size. When it has developed, we store it in the refrigerator until the next baking session. If we want to bake, we take it out one day in advance and refresh it first so it will be ready and active for baking the following day. That’s it!


Small video clip timelaps of rise of rye sourdough starter

More sourdough tips to help you bake that perfect sourdough loaf! Plus some recipe suggestions.

We can also give you a head start with our own active WKB rye sourdough culture. You can find it in our Bakery Tools webshop (only shipped within the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany!). But don’t be afraid to give it a try yourself first!

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258 Responses to Rye Sourdough Starter in Easy Steps

  1. Arden says:

    Heb inmiddels ook volgens jullie beschrijving een rogge starter gemaakt, staat lekker te bubbelen op mijn aanrecht :-).

  2. Gerben says:

    Hello,

    I was really inspired by this website! So I started my own rye starter and the first three days it really started to work, but the fourth day it seemed ‘dead’. Do you have any idea what did go wrong? I refreshed it every day, maybe it is the room temperature. What are the ideal temperatures for the starter to grow?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Marieke says:

      Does you starter smell sour? Simply said; the bacteria make the acid/sourness, the yeast makes the bubbles. When a starter gets too sour the acid stops the yeast from growing and making bubbles. By refreshing you give your starter new food to eat and you dilute the acid environment so the yeast come back to live again. Room temperature should be ok so around 20-22 Celsius. I advice at this point to throw away 3/4 of your starter and add flour and luke warm water (around 28-30 Celsius). Also keep the starter a bit wetter, so it is still easy to stir without being sloppy. This removes the acid and gives a nice warm wet environment for the organisms to grow in. Hopefully it springs back to life!

      • Gerben says:

        Thanks. I already started a new starter. And will try your suggestions on this. The old one does smell a little sour, also I see a different colour on the top layer of it, but I didn’t feed it yesterday because I already gave it up, so that might be the reason. Again thanks for your quick respons.

  3. Gerben says:

    Hi. My second starter also did not start up, despite my feeding and the attention I gave. Actually I am afraid it is the temperature that spoiled the fun. In my house it is always something like 18-18,5C during the day and colder at night. I have experimented with different places in the house, but without succes. Do you have any suggestions about how I can get the right temperature, without having to heat my entire house up to 20-22 degrees? Or should I wait until summer to try it again?

    Yesterday I baked my first pain rustique, using a dried sourdough starter. And actually it was a success. Do you have eperience with dried starters? Does it make a difference compared to living starters?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Gerben,
      Maybe you could try the tip by Akke. And make sure your added water is not too cold. Sometimes quality of water can be an issue, for instance if it contains to much chlorine. You could use mineral water instead. Another idea would be to try a different brand/type of rye. Our rye from molen De Zandhaas in Santpoort seems to be full of life. We always make sure ours is fresh and we also use organic, there could be a difference.
      We do not have any experience with dried starters, but glad to hear it worked out fine and you made a great pain rustique. All I can add is give it another try with the tips and hints in mind. If I remember well ours was also ‘third time lucky’!

      • Gerben says:

        Hello Marieke,

        I started a new starter a week ago and it is really active now. So it must have been the temperature I guess. I just read your 4 year old starter died… my condoleances.

        Just to be sure, to maintain my starter I can just leave it for a week without feeding? How do I know if I have to feed it?

        Thanks for this great site!

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hello Gerben,

          Thank you, the new one is doing well again. Like it says in the ‘how to maintain your starter bit’: if your starter is stiff, like a paste, you can feed it ones a week, if it is more liquid, you should refresh it twice a week (normally bakers would use it every day of course). A good indication if feeding is called for is the smell. You recognize the smell of your active starter as rather fruity I think. If this smell changes to something less fresh and fruity, more resembling ‘nail polish’ it is time to feed your starter. By refreshing and stirring you give your culture fresh food to ‘chew on’ and you make sure everything is evenly distributed again and there aren’t any (crusty) subcultures developing on top for example.

          Hope your culture stays alive and happy!

    • melissa says:

      put the light on in your oven. This will keep the oven just slightly warm. Then put your starter in and close the door.

      • elvis pezlie says:

        I had the same temperature problem. I put a hot water bottle in my cooler bag then put the jar with my starter inside the bag and zipped it up. Refresh the hot water bottle twice a day. It totally transformed my starter and it is now beautiful.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Thank you Elvis for another great tip! Glad it works so well for you.

          Happy baking!

          Marieke & Ed

  4. Akke says:

    You could try starting your starter in a coolingbox, together with some blankets and a nice warm waterbottle, next to the heating. I did it this way and it actually turned out fine.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Great tip Akke, thanks for sharing and hope your starter will have a long and happy baking life :-)

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this site. I’m starting a rye starter this month. It is not different than making any other kind of starter, which I have plenty of in the fridge, and in my closet.

    Here is a tip for people who are having problems with their starter. the water must be quite warm, a little above body temperature. I don’t know if you have crock pots where you live, but you can keep your starter in warm water where the temperature is more regulated. Try keeping your starter in a dark warm closet.

    I live in Canada and today it is -33C outside and my house, inside my house is 15c and my starter thrives really well.

  6. Steve says:

    Hi,

    Firstly I have to agree, what a great website!

    I’ve had a wholemeal wheat starter going for 13 days now and all seems to be going well. Not as fruity in smell as I expected but ‘yeasty’ nonetheless.
    I want to bake my first loaf with it this weekend but am not sure how much to use. Looking at the above usage figures (60-100grams) it appears that you use 10 grams per loaf; would this be sufficient for 1 loaf?

    Also you mention rising times take longer, is there a rough time guide for 1st and second risings?

    Many thanks for your help.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Steve,
      Your wholemeal wheat starter is not as fruity as a rye starter, probably more ‘yogurty’ so it should be OK.
      I would suggest using 10 grams per loaf if you make a loaf like our pain rustique that also has a little bit of added yeast in the final dough. If you use only sourdough starter I would use 15 grams for a loaf.
      As far as rising times are concerned you can check our recipes for San Fransisco Sourdough, Mini Boules and Soft Sourdough Rolls. For the ‘hybrid’ version (little added yeast) check out the pain rustique and the loaf with toasted walnuts.
      Using only sourdough everything will take longer, but you also have to take into account the temperature of your dough which is really important. In our recipes the times indicated are about correct when your average dough temperature is 24ºC / 75ºF. You can find our tips on the subject here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/a-few-tips-on-dough-temperature/

      Good luck with the baking and keep the starter alive ;)!

  7. Fran says:

    I am also having the day four problem. Starter looks superb on day 3, but after that there are no bubbles and it just sits in the jar. It still smells really nice, fruity just as you describe. I’ve tried three times, using organic rye flour, warm Tesco water and the temperature in my kitchen should be perfect.

    BTW – the raisin bun recipe is great. I’ve made them several times!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Fran,
      If it looked great and had bubbles on day 3 then there was life in it, so that was a good sign, and the smell is also perfect you say. If you see no activity it could be it needs more ‘food’. You should just feed it then (on day 4) and see what happens.
      Always hard to judge without seeing it but maybe you will give it another try, also with the help of the kind suggestions you can find in the comments by other bakers.
      Just to be sure: I am assuming you use whole grain rye flour. Last tip would be to try another brand maybe.

      Glad you like the raisin buns!

  8. Fran says:

    I was determined to make my own starter so I decided to do some simultaneous experimentation. I started a rye batch and a batch with whole wheat. On day 3 instead of throwing away half of the mixtures I kept them all, feeding some with wheat, some with rye and some with white bread flour.

    Conclusions:
    1) They all worked. :)
    2) Rye smells nice than wheat. Wheat gets more liquidy and smells a little beery.
    3) No need to measure everything to the nearest gram. Now I add enough water to the flour to make a thick paste and mix the paste before adding to the existing mixture.
    4) Container is irrelevant, jars, bowls, tupperware all work fine.
    5) Water temperature doesn’t matter, I used it straight from fridge.

    Doing the experiments increased my comfort level with the process. I suspect that there was nothing wrong with my previous attempts, I worried too much about them doubling in the volume.

    I’ve baked a couple of pain rustiques and while there is lots of room for improvement, the results are on a different planet from previous breads using only packaged yeast! I am ready to tackle the SF sourdough.

    Thanks!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Fran,

      I do so love that you didn’t give up and that you found your own way of getting comfortable with the stuff. This will stick with you for the rest of your life! And I am sure other people will benefit from your addition to this posting too!

      Thanks very much and enjoy the baking and the sourdough!

  9. gill flesher says:

    I also had the nail polish thing happen to my starter, but mine was only a couple of months old. On day 4 of a new one and all going well so far, although forgot to refresh it before dashing off to work. If I am just refreshing each week (whether I bake or not) can I just check that I should throw away about two thirds each time? Thanks, Gill

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Yes Gill, about two thirds that is correct. If your starter is stiff, like a paste, you can feed it ones a week, if it is more liquid, you should probably refresh it twice a week. Some people use the ‘excess’ starter, the stuff you would trow away, to make a pancake batter, bake waffles, make English muffins and that sort of baking. see: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11598/leftover-sourdough-starter

  10. Peter says:

    Ik volg al een tijdje jullie website en bewonder de resultaten.
    Zelf bak ik al een jaar of twee men vind dat dat over het algemeen heel aardig gaat. Tot nu toe is het maken van een starter miet gelukt, maar heb besloten het met jullie aanwijzingen nog eens te proberen.
    Nu kan ik echter bij de molen in mijn woonplaats roggemeel en roggebloem kopen. Welke van de twee is het beste te gebruiken om een starter te kweken? Ik dacht in eerste instantie roggemeel, maar mijn mengsel van de eerste dag is donkergrijs in plaats van het lichtbruin/grijs zoals op jullie foto’s.
    Graag zou ik jullie advies krijgen. Alvast bedankt voor de moeite.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hallo Peter,

      Dank je wel! Met roggemeel (liefst biologisch want daar zitten potentieel de meeste gistcellen op) zit je goed zeker goed. Je hoeft je geen zorgen te maken over de kleur. Grijs hoort bij het jonge stadium van de cultuur. Na een tijdje, na het voeden en het verdubbelen in volume zul je zien dat de kleur verandert richting beige, dit is een teken dat de cultuur rijpt en dat de bacteriën zuren produceren. (en kleuren zijn op foto’s en bij verschillende beeldschermen ook moeilijk goed te beoordelen en vergelijken).
      Succes met je starter!

      Ed en Marieke

      • Peter says:

        Hallo Ed en Marieke,

        Het lijkt niet helemaal goed te gaan met mijn starter. Gisteren was dag 3 en hij was ongeveer verdubbeld, rook lekker en er zaten lekker veel luchtbel en in. Gisterenavond heb ik volgens de instructies 30 ml water en 30 gram roggemeel toegevoegd en geroerd.
        Vandaag echter is er qua volume niets gebeurd en ruikt het naar de hierboven genoemde nagellak remover.
        Heeft het zin om 2/3 weg te gooien en bij te voeden als op dag 3 of kan ik beter opnieuw beginnen?

        Bedankt alvast voor de hulp,
        Peter

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hoi Peter,
          Als eerste zou je kunnen proberen om nog eens 30 gram water en 30 gram meel toe te voegen, heel goed door te roeren en een dag te wachten. Als dat niet gewerkt heeft, dan ga je over naar de optie van het 2/3 weggooien en bij-voeden.
          Hoop dat dit resultaat heeft,

          Succes!

          Ed en Marieke

  11. Ìrene says:

    How much starter do I need to use for a bread made with 400 gram flour? Does anyone know how to determine how much starter does one need for making different breads (small loaf/large loaf)?
    thanks!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      When using a preferment like a poolish or a biga I only use about 10 grams of active sourdough for each hydride loaf (a combination loaf of sourdough and yeast like our pain rustique) or about 15-20 grams of sourdough for a sourdough only loaf (like our whole wheat levain). With this small amount of sourdough you create during the night a fully active sourdough preferment which you will use to build the final dough. This way you can keep a small starter and still and have the full sourdough flavor. You can find both the recipes for the pain rustique and the whole wheat levain on our website.

      Ed

  12. Irene says:

    Dear Ed,
    thanks a lot for your explanation. It is now a Day 3 of my starter and I am having a problem! On day 2 I added 20 gr flour and 20 ml water, and already after 3-4 hours starter was doing very well (a lot of bubbles and it has more than doubled in size). But now, 12 hours after adding 20 gr flour and 20 ml water it lost its volume again and bubbles are fewer but they are bigger in size. It is also less stiff than it was.
    It is already second time that it happens, should I just proceed as you describe on the day 3? Any idea what can be the problem?
    I am using organic flour and spring water, and temperature is 22-23 degrees.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Irene,
      It is hard to pinpoint the problem without seeing the actual starter. It sounds like your yeasties where already done eating because they ate all the sugars and stopped producing gas and so stopped making bubbels. They decided to go in hibernation, it doesn’t mean they are dead. Maybe they needed a little bit more than the 20 grams.
      If there is still activity I would suggest you just continue with the steps. If this does not work, and you think there is no activity anymore, go back to day 2 and take it from there. If this fails, throw away two third of the mixture and add 40 g of flour and 40 g of water. Remember, it is not exact science, a little bit less or more does not mean success or failure. You just have to find out how your starter reacts to the food and adjust a little accordingly.

      Good luck with it!

      Ed and Marieke

  13. Irene says:

    Hello Ed & Marieke, first of all thank you for the great site with an opportunity to ask a question and get an answer! For the beginners like me it is very valuable!
    I tried your advice with feeding starter with more flour and water, but it did not work. After 24 hours I smelled nail polish remover, so i discarded the starter. Also I started a new “batch” with an non-organic flour just to try. It gets active, but it needs more than 24 hours after each adding. Though, again, after 3 days (like with organic flour) I don’t see any activity, even after 30 hours. Does a taste can say anything about whether it is working or not?
    So, bottom line is that my starter with organic flour develops way faster (about 12 hours, instead of 24 as you describe), non organic flour starter develops much slower (30-34 hours). Do you think I can adjust the times accordingly, or does a starter always need at least 24 hours to develop? My problem with organic flour was that the process went as you describe for 12 hours (bubbles, doubling in size, right smell and color), but i waited 24 hours and at that point my starter lost its volume, got less activity and it got a layer of water on the surface. Do you have any advice for that? I want to start a new one tomorrow morning….
    Thanks a lot.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Irene,
      It seems to us that your starter is so active that it maybe needs even more feeding. It is absolutely normal for a starter to rise and collapse, this is not a sign that something is going wrong. The ‘water’ on the surface is called hooch and it contains the alcohol made by your yeasts, you can poor it of. We have never seen it on a starter made with rye flour so we assume you are using wheat flour. We would like to point out that you only see activity after feeding, so when all the food has been eaten all the activity stops until you feed it again, this is normal, it does not mean anything is wrong. If you see no activity, do not stop, just keep on throwing away half and feed it again. You can try feeding it a bit sooner than you did up till now (maybe your surroundings are very warm?). So in short if your starter is very active and it is also very warm at the moment you could try going to a 12 hour feeding schedule instead of the 24 hours mentioned. Just try to keep it up for a week, do not stop at day three, with the more frequent feeding it should be alright.

      Good luck again and remember you are learning a lot from this process, also the things that seem to go wrong, you are getting to know your starter, it takes a bit of time but you will get there!

  14. Irene says:

    Dear Weekend Bakers,
    My starter is really active now (7 days) and I think I can refrigerate it (cannot get my house cool enough, minimum 25 degrees). Is it correct that after the feeding I should wait for 12 hours for starter to become active, and than refrigerate it? I wonder whether the starter will loose its volume when I refrigerate it, is it OK? And do I have to bring it back to the room temperature before I can use it for the next baking?

    Also, could you tell whether it is normal for a starter to have a thicker layer on top (like a crust)? Under this “crust” it is very active but air bubbles do not come through the top. I thought maybe this layer keeps starter from getting more volume (it only doubles, not more).
    Thank you very much for all the good advice!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Irene,
      Great news about the starter! Good idea to put it in the fridge. You are correct to wait for 12 hours after feeding before doing this. Yes it will collapse and this is ok, it is only the air escaping. It is not necessary to bring it back to room temperature before using because you will use only a tiny amount compared to the rest of the preferment ingredients and usually this stays at room temp for about 12 hours so it will be OK.

      Again the thing you mention about the crust sounds like something that happens to a wheat culture (not so much with a rye culture which only shows a slight discoloration at the top). We assume you do put a lit on your jar, like it says in the instructions and that your crust is not really a hard crust but also more along the lines of a discoloration.
      Our suggestion would be to keep your starter a little bit stiffer, so it can rise a bit more. It is more important that the smell of the culture at this stage is yeasty, yogurty, fruity and slightly alcoholic (and not varnishy and off putting). If it smells nice and yeasty yogurty we think the moment has come for you to give it a try and bake a loaf with it. (see recipes for our pain rustique, mini boules, soft wheat rolls and whole wheat levain).

      Happy Baking!

  15. `paul van den broek says:

    nice site, tanks for puting it out there. It inspired me to try to build up the rye starter. From your video timelaps i can see how fast the starter is growin. I’m now in day4, had some activity yesterday: a small rise but by far not double. It even looked like it collapsed a bit. Today (day4) a bubble here, there but no real activity, it smells good by the way. Is this a fail or can this be saved? Does it often happen that no or almost no activity is there?

    regards, Paul van den Broek

    By the way, it very nice to see so many people starting to get interrested by food and esspecialy by our daily bread. Thanks for your good explenations on your experiences.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Paul,
      Thanks for your lovely compliments. We would suggest the following for your starter: If there is still activity you can just continue with the steps. If this does not work, and you think there is no activity at all anymore, go back to day 2 and take it from there. If this fails, throw away two third of the mixture and add 40 g of flour and 40 g of water. Make sure the environment for your starer is warm and wet enough. If it still leads to nothing, you can also look at the rye flour itself. You see in our little clip that the rye we use is very active. We use organic whole rye flour from a mill and it seems to have a lot of natural yeast cells to get the starter going. It could be that the brand /type you use is not so easily activated, so maybe changing flour would help too. You can also read the comments and tips above of other people on the subject, maybe you find some of them useful too.

      Wish you good luck with the starter and happy baking!

      Ed and Marieke

  16. `paul van den broek says:

    happy! thanks for your reply and advise. It still seems a somewhat misterious proces (part of the fun). Yesterday i tried revive it, i threw away 2/3 and fed it 40gr rye and less water then described because I thought the mixture was to fluid. i think i added 20ml water and that did the trick. already yesterday evening it was more then trippled! Should i now give it a rest for 2 days or do a feed again?

    regards, Paul (@fooddutchie)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Great news Paul,
      You are right, that is why everybody has to find his or her own way with this process. We would advice to feed it one more time to proof it is really active. If it doubles / triples again you can try and bake something with it, or store it in the fridge until needed (also read the piece about maintaining your starter and our updates about the subject above).

      Happy baking!

  17. Francois (again) says:

    Should I make my sourdough culture with a lower hydration; 80 ratter than 100 percent? I think it would be great, in reason of the temperature of my house (25). I think that the pale colour of my culture is due to an over presence of bacteria, ratter than natural yeast… it doesn’t smell good as well. 80% water, 25 degree, 24hre intervals… does it seems okay ?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Francois,
      Yes, we would suggest you give that a try. Like we said, it is not an exact science so you have to play around with it a bit to find your own optimal culture climate. Most people have to give it a few (or more) tries in order to get it going.

      Good luck!

  18. Ibrahim says:

    Hi Marieke,

    I am now at my first day.. but the equal parts of whole wheat rye flour and water is brining me a solid (dough consistancy) mixture. It looks like the flour soaked up the water totally. Is this normal or would you advice me to do (use) something different.

    Cheers!

    Ibrahim

    By the way.. the Naan Bread was perfect!! Lovely with the butter and cilantro.. and garlic :)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Ibrahim,
      Glad the naan turned out so well, it’s one of my absolute favorite flatbreads.
      About the culture: sounds like it could use a little more water. It should be a consistency that can still be stirred with a spoon.

      • Ibrahim says:

        Thanks for your reply.. I suppose adding a bit more water should do the trick. I will do my best :)

  19. inge says:

    Novice sourdough user – I’ve never baked bread using a sourdough starter, so am pleased to say my rye sourdough starter has come alive! but your help would be needed in that I’ve put it into the fridge as I’m unable to use it during the week (long working hours etc), so when I take it out of the fridge, do I only bring the amount I need to use back up to room temperature or all of it?

    Your help would be much appreciated.

    inge

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Inge,
      We also keep ours in the fridge and use it mostly at weekends (Weekend bakers :) and yes we work with the whole jar.
      You get the jar out, and take what you need to make your poolish or preferment. If you take just a little bit out to make just one loaf, you also need to trow away about half the content of your jar and fill it up with new flour and water to refresh it. (We bake much more than one loaf and use about 2/3 of the jar anyway so in that case you just fill it up and do not have to trow anything away). Then you leave it at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours to get fully active, put it in the fridge and leave it there till your next bake.

      Good luck with it!

      Marieke

  20. Pingback: How to make sourdough bread » Carl Legge

  21. Monica says:

    When my recipe says rye starter (150%) fed at 1:7:10.5 (starter:flour:water), What does this mean. I have baked bread before but have never used a starter except for sourdough pancakes following my Grandmas instructions of eyeing this much. Please help me to understand in laymans terms.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Monica,
      150% (this is called a bakers percentage) indicates that your starter consists of 100 parts flour to 150 parts water (so about 1/3 more water than flour, so rather a sloppy starter). (100 to 150 is as 7 is to 10.5).

      For example: you maintain your starter by adding 70 grams of flour and 105 grams of water to 10 grams of starter, which brings the total of the starter to 185. If you refresh your starter you only keep 10 grams of the total starter and bake bread (or make granny’s pancakes) with the 175 gram you have. To feed the starter again add water and flour at the same ratio of 70 grams of flour and 105 grams of water.

      BTW, there are almost as many refresh ratio’s to be found on the internet as there are bakers, everybody seems to have their own preferred refresh ratio.

      Hope this helps and the recipe works.

      Happy baking and feeding,

      Marieke & Ed

  22. Monique says:

    Hoi, ik zit inmiddels op dag 5, na wat haperingen , maar nu lijkt de starter goed actief te zijn.
    Kan ik hem nu beter in de koelkast plaatsen en dan bijv. op dag 7 weer voeden/verversen, of kan ik hem op kamertemperatuur bewaren? En stel dat ik 1 brood wil gaan maken, na dag 7, neem ik dan de benodigde gevoedde starter …en wat doe ik met het overgebleven deel ? Graag jullie advies!
    Monique

  23. Monique says:

    Oeps ,zie nu net al een deel van mijn vraag al beantwoord bij 13 oktober…maar graag toch advies over waar de starter vanaf nu te plaatsen.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hoi Monique,
      Leuk dat je starter het goed doet! Niet voeren en verversen als je je starter meteen gaat gebruiken. Na voeren moet je minimaal een dag wachten voordat je hem gebruikt. Als, zoals je zegt, je starter nu actief is dan kun je hem, als het gaat om maximaal twee dagen op een koel plekje in huis bewaren (maximaal 18 graden). Als je hem langer wilt bewaren dan is de koelkast de beste plek.
      Als je de starter voert, altijd eerst een dagje op kamertemperatuur laten groeien en dan pas in de koelkast zetten.

      Heel veel succes ermee,

      Ed en Marieke

  24. Frank says:

    Hallo,

    Thanks for the recipes, I love the 80% hydration baguette!
    As for the starter: when there’s a smell of nail polish this means the starter needs to be fed. All sugars have been eaten and now it is feeding on the fat producing acetone. If the acetone odour is not too strong it can still be ‘saved’ by refreshing.
    When stored in the refrigerator the processes are slowed down so the starter lasts longer without refreshing. Me too, I keep my starter in the refrigerator.

  25. Pingback: Rye Sourdough Starter in Easy Steps | cookandbake

  26. Alan Farrell says:

    Hi, just found this website and already I LOVE it! First starter went into the jar at mid-day today so watch this space! I have been making bread for about fifteen years now but only very simple and straightforward recipes (basic bread dough – wholemeal, granary etc). Now I can’t wait to try making some pain rustique by this method. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Alan,
      Wonderful! I hope you will like the pain rustique too. It is our favorite everyday bread. Give it a few tries to adapt it to your specific ingredients, equipment and surrounding because this can be different for everybody of course. But following the directions and tips we find that most people already get good results at the first attempt.

      A variation on the pain rustique is the ‘fluitje’ made with spelt flour. http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/a-fluitje-with-spelt/ The recipe gives you two smaller loafs of about 500 g each. Nice for sharing too.

      Happy baking and thanks again for your warm words!

      Marieke

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  30. Pieter says:

    Marieke, Ed,

    My starter is working prefectly and is giving us every week 3 nice loafs, whether pain rustique, with prunes and walnuts or the real sourdough. I have a question though. I’m going for 9 days on holiday, will the sourdough starter last that long in the fridge. Alternative is that I take the starter with me.

    Keep up this marvelous site!
    pieter

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Pieter,
      You should be alright leaving it in the fridge while you are away. Back from your holiday immediately refresh, throw half away and add rye flour and keep at room temp for at least 24 hours.

      Enjoy your vacation and after that hopefully some more wonderful baking with the equally refreshed starter :)

      Marieke & Ed

  31. tsachi says:

    hi Marieke & Ed,
    first of all, thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge and experience in this Beautiful site,
    I’m learning a lot.
    I have a question about the starter. its the seventh day since I made the starter, and although
    it has nice smell of sourdough, and has alot of bubbles , its not expanding, meaning its on the same height all the time, except from the fifth day, when it was a little bit taller.
    I’m feeding the starter in a ratio of 2:1 feeding vs starter, because I’ve read its suppose to help.
    should I do something else ?
    thanks a lot

    tsachi

  32. Weekend Bakers says:

    Hello Tsachi,
    We would suggest first of all to keep your starter a little bit thicker, more like a paste. Perhaps your flour absorbs less water and this way the starter is more liquid and doesn’t climb that easily.
    Sometimes using a different type or brand of flour (preferably organic!) can also give a change for the better.

    Hope this helps,

    Ed

  33. Pingback: how to make San Francisco sourdough bread from scratch | cookandbake

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  36. smokehag says:

    Love your starter. Recommend it on my blog as its nice and simple and not confusing for beginners.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thanks for recommending us, much appreciated! Keep up the good bready work!

      Marieke

  37. Wiley says:

    Hello,
    Thanks for your website; it’s very helpful.
    This is day 3 of my first effort at making starter, using an organic rye flour. All seemed as you describe on the first day. After feeding on day 2 there was a rapid increase in activity and after about 6 hours the volume had increased nearly 4 times. It was nearly overflowing the jar so I shook it and it collapsed back to near its starting volume. Then I left it for the remainder of the 24 hour period, and it didn’t rise again.
    Now on day 3, it’s about 6 hours after I removed half of the batch and fed the remainder, and there has been very little rise, just enough to be noticeable. After reading through the comments here, I’m guessing that since it was so active yesterday I should have fed it again after it collapsed instead of waiting the full 24 hours, which is what I’ll try if the same thing happens in the future. Since there’s still some activity I’ll continue working with this batch and see how it goes.
    Again, the info. on your site is much appreciated.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Wiley,
      Thanks! I think your analyses is pretty accurate and you should just continue. I think your starter is very active and wants to be fed sooner rather than later. BTW The collapsing is normal, it will not stay high forever, it will collapse in a day or sooner like in your case. Also the wetter the more the tendency of collapsing. Just keep going, do not stop or start over just because you think nothing much is happening anymore. Hope it works out!

      Ed

  38. Oleg says:

    Dear Ed & Marieke,

    Let me notice once again, that you have a great website! I think the best all around about bakery!!!

    A quick question about starter and temperature.
    It’s very humid and hot (29C) in Chicago now, so the question is will I still be able to make the Rye Sourdough Starter or should I wait for fall time when temperature drops?

    Thanks a lot and best wishes!!!

    Oleg

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Oleg,

      You do not have to wait. It may be that because of the temperature your culture will be a little bit more active and you have to feed it a bit sooner than the average times given in the instructions. You can keep it in a place that is relatively the coolest in your home maybe.

      Good luck,

      Ed & Marieke

      • Oleg says:

        Ed & Marieke,

        Thanks a lot for your answer!!!
        Actually whatever I thought is dead starter started raise almost on my eyes when I added flour/water. Now it looks/smells perfect, but I have to feed it every 12 hours.

        Can I ask you a question about “how to maintain your starter” part, please?

        In your update you wrote “after feeding, I wait for the starter to double or triple in size and then I store it in the refrigerator with the lit on.” Do you feed it before put into the frige? Do you need to feed it when you take it out of the frige or you can use it right away?

        Thank a lot!!!
        Oleg

        P.S. This weekend wil be my “Bake a Miche” day

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hi Oleg,
          Great to hear! To answer your question: No, you do not feed it again just before you store it in the fridge.
          If you keep your culture in the fridge, refresh your culture at least every three weeks. If you want to bake, get it out one day in advance. If it has been left in the fridge for over a week you need to refresh / feed it first so it will be ready and active the following day.

          Hope the miche baking will go great. Allow enough time for the resting, proofing and baking, you must not be in a hurry with a miche! But if it is still as hot as a while ago, the proofing will probably also go rather fast, like with your starter.

          Have a great baking weekend,

          Ed & Marieke

  39. Oleg says:

    Ed & Marieke,

    One more question about teh starter.

    The starter is great and I am really happy with it, but I have a question about it usage.

    Should I use it only when I bake rye bread or can use with wheat bread as well?
    Right now I am thinking about baking “Poilâne Loaf” and wonder if I have to convert this rye starter into wheat starter? I read how to do it and it should not be a problem, but I am still wonder if I can still use rye starter for non-rye bread.

    Thanks a lot,
    Oleg

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      You can use your starter for any bread you like, also wheat or spelt. There is no conversion needed! We use our rye starter all the time for all kinds of bread. The only reason for not using a rye starter would be if you really would not want any rye in your bread. But the amount compared to the loaf is so small, (plus in your loaf there will probably be whole grain wheat and maybe some additional rye anyway) that you will not even notice any difference using a wheat or rye starter.

      Hope your loaf will be great!

      Marieke & Ed

  40. Kat says:

    Hey there…hoping you can help. I’m struggling with my starter. All was going well and on day 3 it rose a little and had some bubbles. I carried on following instructions and since then it has had no life in it. I’m using mineral water and warming it to about 36c but room is about 18c. I am now on day 9!

    Anyway….do I carry on or start over? What might I be doing wrong? I’m so looking forward to doing some baking baking! Help!

    Thanks.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Kat,

      Our first thought are your water is too warm, so the suggestion is to use water of 30C at the most. Plus (provided you are not already doing this of course) we would recommend looking at your flour. Use organic (preferably wholegrain rye) flour because it gives you the greatest chance of success, change brands to see if this helps.
      But first, start over again and lower the temperature of the water so the temp for the yeast cells will be more comfortable.
      Another thing you can try in combination with this is finding a spot in the house that is slightly warmer (20-21C).

      Good luck with it!

      Ed and Marieke

  41. jo says:

    Hi,

    What texture should the starter be at the beginning? Mine is extremely thick & dry, like dough, and stuck to the spoon.

  42. Stash Bragiel says:

    Hi,

    if you are having problems with your sourdough starter failing feed it with 100ml of “unsweetened pine-apple juice. This will help with the bad bacteria. Try it!

  43. Pingback: Zuurdesem Pain Naturel | Lekker melig!

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  45. Olga says:

    Hoi Ed en Marieke,

    Ik heb een vraag over de hoeveelheid van dit zuurdesem dat je moet gebruiken in een recept. In de meeste recepten wordt ‘normale’ instant gist gebruikt. Kan ik dit ook vervangen door de rogge zuurdesem? En zo ja, hoeveel van dit desem gebruik je dan (bijv. per gram instant gist)? Is daar een handvat voor?
    Alvast bedankt.

    Groetjes,
    Olga

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hoi Olga,

      Je kunt helaas niet zomaar gist vervangen door zuurdesem en verder gewoon het recept volgen. Desem heeft namelijk veel meer tijd nodig om tot ontwikkeling te komen. Het werkt het beste om gewoon een goed desemrecept te nemen omdat daarvan alle tijden en methodes kloppen (bv de pain naturel: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-pain-naturel/ of de zuurdesem mini boules: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-mini-boulles/). Je kunt een gistrecept wel bewerken zodat het een desemrecept wordt. Je moet dan altijd met een voordeeg werken om de boel op gang te brengen. Gemiddeld zit er in een desembrood dat op deze manier wordt gemaakt ongeveer 15 g desem per brood. Dan heb je ook nog de hybride versie (zoals de pain rustique: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/our-version-of-a-pain-rustique/) waarbij je het toegevoegde desem meer voor de smaak gebruikt en het gist toevoegt om het hele proces meer snelheid te geven. Bij al deze methodes, gist, desem of hydride, krijg je ook duidelijk een ander type brood (korst, kruim, smaak).

      Groetjes en happy baking weekend!

      Marieke & Ed

      • Olga says:

        Super bedankt voor je reactie. Ik wilde eigenlijk een speltvolkorenbrood maken met de roggedesem, maar ik kon er nergens een recept van vinden, vandaar mijn vraag. Ik ga het eens met de 15 gram desem proberen en een voordeegje maken.

        Groetjes,
        Olga

  46. Pingback: Sourdough Rye Bread | Some Kind of Healthy

  47. Marie says:

    Hi,
    How much of the starter would I use to make Rugbrod? This is a Danish type of rye bread, like German pumpernickle. It is a very large loaf – 1kg of rye flour plus 200 grams of rye kernals.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      It depends on the recipe. If it uses a poolish or preferment in which you put the starter you would need around 30 g per 500 g flour. If you don’t use a poolish or preferment you would need between 200 g and 300 g active starter. But note that simply changing a yeast based recipe to sourdough, without changing timings and techniques will not immediately result in a good loaf the first time. We would suggest you stick to a good / proven sourdough based rugbrod recipe for the best result. We have not made the original rugbrod ourselves. We do have a favorite rye bread recipe, it is a so called ‘hybrid’ version because it uses the rye starter plus a tiny amount of yeast in the last stage of this three stage recipe: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/3-stage-70-rye-bread-with-raisins/. Our other recipe, a very dark and moist rye bread, that uses no starter or yeast at all and is ‘cooked’ for 10 hours is also very much worth a try for true rye lovers. You can find it here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/the-best-rye-bread/

      Good luck with the baking,

      Ed & Marieke

  48. Marie says:

    Thanks for your reply. I made the bread from blargh.stderr.net/2009/09/16/danish-ryebread-.Rugbrod. It has a starter but uses a little bit of yeast so it doesn’t have much of a sourdough taste. It did work well, however. I think i will search for a recipe with a true sourdough instead of tinkering with this one . Thanks, again.

  49. gregory says:

    Hello weekend bakers,

    This question is more about baking bread than about starter. Your tips on the starter were great and really helped me get it going. I used it for a recipe from the book “Healing with Whole Foods.” The recipe was for Black Rye Bread. Just starter, rye, water, and a little salt. No sweetener or anything. Maybe a little too healthy.

    My question is about what it should taste like. I’ve never had rye sourdough before. It tastes like rye, but I’m disappointed that it didn’t get that tangy sour taste that most wheat sourdoughs get. Should it get sour, even with 100% rye flour?

    Thanks!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hard to say. It really depends on the recipe and we do not know the recipe you used. However, the acid producing bacteria in your sourdough culture need lots and lots of hours to produce enough acid before you can taste it. That is why San Fransisco sourdough bakers have bulk fermenting times of 12 hours plus+ and use refrigerators to stretch those times further to 24 hours or more. So rye sourdough can get that tang, but you need to find the right recipe with the right proofing times.

      Thanks for all your kind words and good luck with the rye bread project.

      Ed & Marieke

  50. gregory says:

    Well, it all got eaten. So it must have been pretty good. Thanks for the help. I will keep experimenting and baking.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family too Gregory, and lots of baking joy!

      Ed & Marieke

  51. Adrian says:

    Hi Ed and Marieke

    I’m very new to sourdough and bread baking in general but ever since I tasted the sourdough baguette at a local restaurant I’ve put it down at the top of my to-bake list. I’m considering of purchasing the sourdough starter from your weekend baking shop but as it’s a rye starter I wonder if it can be used for baking baguettes and other recipes that call for a white flour starter?

    Many thanks and I hope to try your 80% hydration baguette one more time in the coming week!

    Adrian

  52. Adam says:

    I am new to this. I can make a good yeast / preferment white country bread. My goal, though, is to make this German bread linked below. I don’t know how to calculate hydration percentages. Can I achieve 133% with this recipe of yours? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Happy New Year! Adam

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Adam,
      Baker’s percent(ingredient) = 100% × ingredient mass⁄flour mass
      Our starter culture uses equal parts water and flour so it is 100%
      The 133% in the recipe you want to make means it is wetter than our starter.
      This is how you calculate the ratio
      The 80 g culture is 100 parts flour and 133 parts water = 233 parts in total.
      80 / 233 parts x 100 = 34.33 g flour and 80 – 34.33= 45.66 g water
      So you could just add about 10 ml water to the recipe and then all will be fine!

      Good luck with the recipe, it sounds and looks delicious!

      Happy Baking and Happy New Year!

      Marieke & Ed

  53. Ben says:

    Hi,

    I’m a new comer to the world of baking and have a quick question on starter volumes. In your guide above, after doing the maths at the end of day 4 you’d only have around 50g of starter. After this you say let it rest for a few days to develop. But what is the process when you need a large amount for a recipe? I’ve read a few that require 100g or even up to 200g. Is the below what you would do for a recipe that requires 100g of starter:

    - throw away 2/3 (33g) of your 50g starter that you’ve developed, then add 133g of flour and water.

    from this point i’m not sure how long you’d need to leave this new amount of starter before you used it, as you’ve really diluted it and don’t understand how long the new flour you add takes to develop the flavour that the starter has in it. But after x amount of time you’d then take the 100g need and have the original 50g left over to keep and store.

    Sorry if the answer is obvious – and any help on this is greatly appreciated. Plus I love the website and have learnt so much from it already.

    Here’s to 2013 being the year of the bread !!!!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Ben,
      There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to using sourdough cultures in recipes for bread making. One tells you to refresh your starter the day before baking and add a large amount of this starter to your final dough on baking day. The second tells you to build a poolish by using a small amount of sourdough added to equal amounts of flour and water and let it ferment (ripe) for usually around 12 hours. It more or less comes down to the same result as in the first method you use your starter as a poolish but the downside of this is you have to maintain a large amount of starter. The second method you maintain a small amount and let it increase in size the day before baking in a separate container. With this second method you do not have to throw away as much starter when you refresh (feed/ maintain) it.
      This is also why most of our recipes use this method that tells you to build a poolish type preferment with a small amount of culture.
      Another advantage of this method is you can use a rye starter (easier to maintain) with regular white sourdough loaves, as the amount of rye used is so small you will (almost) not notice it in the final bread.

      Hope this helps and wishing you lots of happy baking moments in 2013!

      Ed & Marieke

      • Ben says:

        Thanks for the advice guys. have already started a new starter following your guide above. looking forward to the results this weekend!

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Let us know how it goes!

          • Ben says:

            Hi guys,

            Starters are going really well, and hope to try out some of your recipes this weekend. One question though. You mention that instead of a large amount of starter you can build the same amount of poolish and use this instead. If this is the case is there a general way to calculate how you convert a recipe that includes a large starter amount to one that would use a poolish? An example recipe I have for pain de campagne is:

            650g bread flour
            100g rye flour
            500g sourdough starter
            etc

            this is just one example but would like to know what you’d do for any recipes you come across and you want to substitute starter for poolish.

            thanks,
            Ben

          • Weekend Bakers says:

            As a rule of thumb you can use 15 g sourdough culture to 100 g flour used to make a sourdough starter. After mixing your starter it needs about 12 hours (usually overnight) to become active.

            Ed

  54. Sylvia Vervest says:

    Hi

    After two disasters with a wheat sourdough starter I am now going to try your Rye starter and if that doesn’t work I’ll throw in the towel (well maybe not that quick – lol). I do, however, have a question, you mentioned about using mineral water if tap water has a lot of chlorine in it. Being a Brit lIving in The Netherlands I think the water here is not chlorinated (although I could be wrong!) but to avoid any problems would it be prudent to use mineral water.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Sylvia,

      I can assure you it is not at all necessary to use mineral water, the tap water here is fine. It is mentioned for people who live in areas where there is a lot of chlorine in the water (parts of the USA for example). We use tap water for our culture too.
      Hope the rye will bring you success. Do not give up yet! Use organic whole rye for the starter (we use De Zandhaas), it will create the best conditions for an active starter.

      Good luck with it, otherwise, if and when you visit us, we will help you by showing what we do.

      Marieke

  55. Sylvia Vervest says:

    Hi Marieke,

    Thanks for that, must admit I felt a bit stupid asking that but I’ve been so frustrated with sourdough bread making and I really wanted to follow everything to the T and I did think it was for your USA followers. I have been making spelt bread and basic wheat bread since I started making bread (about a month or so ago) and the results are great but sourdough bread seems to elude me for some reason. I’m off to the Zandhaas later this week and I’ll pick up some organic Rye flour (Roggameel?!) as well. BTW the organic wheat flour from there is just the best thing ‘since sliced bread’ – pardon the pun :-)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Sylvia,
      Great to hear you like the flour! The thing to ask for is EKO (stands for organic) roggemeel. I hope by using this flour your frustrations with sourdough will come to an end. Next to the right flour for your starter culture it is also important to keep in mind that making sourdough bread takes time (about twice as long as yeast bread you could say) and it is really important to have your dough at the right temperature (24-25 C) otherwise it will seem like nothing is happening with your dough. (Maybe you have seen our tips on dough temperature: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/a-few-tips-on-dough-temperature/).

      Good luck with it and keep us posted?!

      Marieke

  56. Anna says:

    Goedemiddag!
    Ik heb een vraagje over het gebruik van de desemstarter. Ben in verwarring over het koelkastgedeelte.
    Als je starter actief is, klopt dan het volgende:
    Je pakt er ‘s avonds een hoeveelheid van, voegt daar gelijke delen water en roggemeel aan toe. Dat laat je 12 uur staan op kamertemperatuur. De volgende ochtend kun je daarmee bakken.
    De rest van de starter zet je in de koelkast, ook ververst. De volgende keer dat je wilt bakken haal je er weer een gedeelte eruit, etc, zie boven. En ververs je ook weer de voorraad die in de koelkast gaat.

    Of kan het alleen andersom. Dus dat je voor je wilt bakken eerst alles in je pot ververst, het geheel gaat weer in de koelkast terug en de volgende ochtend haal je eruit wat je wilt gebruiken.

    Groet,
    Anna

  57. Weekend Bakers says:

    Hallo Anna,
    Het klopt inderdaad wat je als eerste zegt, maar je hoeft wat betreft het toevoegen van gelijke delen, niet perse roggemeel te gebruiken, je kunt hiervoor elk meel of elke bloem gebruiken waarmee je je brood wilt maken (alleen je roggecultuur, die je aan je voordeeg dat dan 12 uur staat toevoegt, is dan van rogge, het voordeeg zelf kan met name ook uit bv tarwe of spelt bestaan.
    Ik stuur je via mail nog wat instructies toe.

    Happy Baking,

    Marieke

  58. Sylvia Vervest says:

    Hi Ed & Marieke,

    Yesterday was day 3 of my Rye Starter and befor I fed it for the 3rd time it was really active it had more than doubled in size and smelt quite nice. I through away 2 thirds of the starter and gave it 30ml water and 30g of Rye flour, I got up this morning and it has risen margenally but not much over the mark I made, there are bubbles and it still smells ok. It seems to me that it has stalled, I’ve read the previous mails over this problem and you recomend adding more starter to to give it more ‘food’. Can I do this without throwing 2 thirds away as there is only about a third in the jar at the moment and throwing that much away will leave me with hardly any.

    On a funny note every time I look at my starter I think of Frank Oz’s comedy film ‘Little Shop Of Horrers’ (not sure If you’ve seen it) but the alien plant in the shop keeps saying to Rick Moranis ‘Feed Me Seymour Feed Me’ and the starter reminds me of that, execept I don’t have to feed it humans!! – just saying ;-)))

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Sylvia,
      I would suggest scooping a bit from the top and then feeding it like you said. Sounds like all is still OK and you should just continue with the process.

      Yes, we know about the Little Shop but have never seen it in full I must say. I have seen images of this talking plant.
      If the culture starts talking and asking for humans please feel free to call us immediately :O !!!

      Good luck with it!

      Marieke

      • Sylvia Vervest says:

        Hi Marieke & Ed,

        I started a new starter in tandem with the other one which just sat there and looked at me and refused to budge even after refreshing it it just refused to rise to the occasion and did not appear to be working for its food…Sooo with a heavy heart I Murdered it and it’s now in the great starter in the sky. However, the 2nd has not exactly risen to the occasion either but my patience has got better and it’s day 5 and it to seemed not to be doing much so this morning I got rid of 2/3s and fed it with 30g Rye and 30ml water the water was luke warm (30degrees a thought it might be feeling the cold). Again the little bugger just sat there looking at me again and this afternoon I took matters into my own hands and I gave it 20ml more water as it did look a little on the thick side. After about an hour or so it has not risen but it is bubbling away very nicely and smells fruity.

        My question is given that its day 5 and it should not be fed now and just rested is that what I should do, let little Quatermass 2 have a rest?

        Just re read the post and I sound as mad as a hatter…but I can assure you normal service will be resumed as soon as the starter starts. Also you’ve probably gathered I not the most patient of people. ;-)

        Thanks for your patience though :-)
        Sylv.

  59. Heidi says:

    Hi! Thank you for all the great information. I am on my second try at the rye starter. It’s on day 5 and based on the smell and all when I fed it last night, I was going to bake with it today. But when I opened it up just now, I smelled the nail polishy smell. So I stirred it and fed it and now it smells not so bad and fruitier. Do I have to throw it out, or can I try to use it in a couple of hours? I plan to feed the bread to my kids, so I want to make sure it’s not fermented improperly, but I also don’t want to throw out something I can work with. Thanks again!
    Heidi

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Heidi,
      We recognize the way you describe it. Sometimes on opening the jar we also get a faint nail polish smell. If that’s all it is and like you say after feeding and stirring the smell was replaced by a fruitier one, then you should be fine. When in doubt just feed it and refresh it for a couple of days extra. A sourdough culture can take up to two weeks to stabilize and get to its full potential.
      It may also help to make the culture just a tiny bit more liquid, it should be a ‘cake batter’ consistency rather than a stiffer ‘cookie dough’ substance. We noticed that by keeping it in that state the chance of this nail polish smell is less.

      Good luck with it and happy baking!

      Marieke & Ed

      • Heidi says:

        Thank you for responding so quickly! I am really enjoying this website and this process of getting a feeling for the sourdough. I think it still is fine and I will see how it looks/smells tomorrow.
        Thanks again,
        Heidi

  60. Hi Ed and Marieke,
    I love to bake bread but so far have been only doing it with fresh or instant yeast, I followed your instructions and for a second time in a row my rye starter dies on the third day. It starts perfectly well, forms a lot of bubbles and on the even doubles on the second day. Then, when the third day comes and I take 2/3 of it and renew it just dies. I can see the water on top, and nothing happens. I am mixing it for 30 seconds, I am using clean spoons and clean cups to measure the flour and the water, I use lukewarm water…

    I don’t have enough knowledge to find the reason by myself. I really hope you can help me out!

    Thank you.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Sonya,
      We would suggest the following: If there is still some activity (some bubbles and still a pleasant smell) you should always just continue with the steps. If this does not work, and you think there is really no activity at all anymore, go back to day 2 and take it from there. If this fails too, throw away two third of the mixture and add 40 g of flour and 40 g of water. Make sure the environment for your starer is warm and wet enough and the consistency is like cake batter, thick but still easy to stir. If it still leads to nothing, you can also look at the flour itself (are you using wheat flour? because you mention the water on top). You see in our little clip that the rye we use is very active. We use organic whole rye flour from a mill and it seems to have a lot of natural yeast cells to get the starter going. Maybe changing flour type and /or brand would help too. You can also read the comments and tips above of other people on the subject, maybe you find some of them useful too.

      Hope this helps and please do not give up yet….third time lucky :)

      Greetings,

      Ed & Marieke

  61. Thank you! In my desperation I threw out the starter, so I am starting over again today. I am using rye flour which seems to be very active in the first two days, doubling and even tripling, boasting beautiful bubbles, and a lot of them… Thank you for all your suggestions, I will go through the comments as well.

    I hope third time will be lucky indeed!

    Will keep you updated :)

  62. Anna says:

    Hi,
    Using your method, I now want to feed what is left of my starter, which has been staying in the fridge all week.
    I’m not sure if I put it right back in after putting water and rye in the jar, or if I need to wait untill it is active again and then put it back.

    Also I have some trouble with the feeding time when taking some starter out of the fridge for baking. I got some culture out at 8 a.m. At noon it was triple its former size. By the time I wanted to make my poolish (8 p.m.) it was back at its original size. Can I still bake with it? How come it rises so fast and then caves in equally fast? The temperature is a steady 22 degrees Celsius.

    Thanks!

    Anna

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Anna,
      No, you do not feed it again just before you store it in the fridge.
      If you keep your culture in the fridge, refresh your culture at least every three weeks. If you want to bake, get it out one day in advance. If it has been left in the fridge for over a week you need to refresh / feed it first so it will be ready and active the following day.
      I think your starter is very active and wants to be fed sooner rather than later. BTW The collapsing is normal, it will not stay high forever, it will collapse in a day or sooner like in your case. Also the wetter the more the tendency of collapsing. A good indication if feeding is called for is the smell. Fruity or yogurty is good to use, if this smell changes to something less fresh and fruity, more resembling ‘nail polish’ it is definitely time to feed your starter.

      • Anna says:

        Sorry, I don’t understand completely: when refreshing the culture without wanting to bake (every three weeks), I have to wait until it is active before putting the stash back in the fridge?

        Does the early collapsing (a couple of hours after feeding) mean that I should begin baking sooner? (ore taking the starter out/feeding it later.)

        You are right about the wetness: this is a starter with more water then flour. The other one is more stiff and collapses a few hours later.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Sorry if that was not clear. Before putting it in the fridge again you feed it the day before, wait a day for it to get active and then store it in the fridge.
          Even if your starter has (recently of course, not days ago) collapsed you can still use it in your poolish. Rye does not contain much gluten so it doesn’t really matter if it is collapsed, it will still work.

          Good luck with it!

  63. Pingback: The sourdough Starter Thread 2012 - Page 25

  64. Sylvia Vervest says:

    Hi Marieke,

    Me again :-), but don’t worry starter is alive and well. But I was going to make your Pain Rustique this weekend and when I got the starter out of the fridge there was a layer of what looked like water on top (think its called Hooch) I mixed it back in and then took about 30g out and refreshed it with 30g Rye & 30g water, will it be ok to make the poolish with it tomorrow night? Or do I now need to feed it for a couple of days more.

    Thanks
    Sylv

  65. Ivana says:

    Hi Marieke,

    Your website and recipes are such an inspiration! I love your posts, recipes and tips and use them almost daily. I recently ran into some trouble with my rye starter and was wondering if you have any ideas about a possible solution you could share.

    I had successfully made and used the rye sourdough starter according to your directions for over 2 years. About a month ago, mold appeared on top and the sides of it (white fuzzy stuff with brown specks), so I tossed it and started over again. I have since tried about 5 batches: they would bubble on day 2, more than double on day 3, have a bit less activity on day 4, but they consistently mold on day 5 after a regular daily feeding. I am completely puzzled! I use very good quality, organic rye flour from our local co-op, clean filtered water and keep everything sterilized. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for your time!

    ~Ivana

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Ivana,
      Thank you very much for liking our site and recipes.
      We do have an idea about what is causing your culture problems. We have had it ourselves once. We think the problem could actually be in the bag of flour you are feeding the culture with. We have had one batch of rye flour that contained something ‘bad’ and after weeks of trying we came to the conclusion this could be the problem. We bought a new bag (same mill by the way) and started over and we were back in business. For reasons that are hard to trace we think this can sometimes be the case….
      Because it is not normal with a good bag of rye flour for something to go moldy so quickly.
      So if this could be the case with you…throw away the bag asap and start over.

      Good luck and happy baking!

      Ed & Marieke

  66. Pingback: Favorite Flatbreads: Sourdough Pita | Weekend Bakery

  67. Chris says:

    Hi Weekend Bakers!
    Happy to let you know that both batches of starter are doing fine. One batch based on your WeekendBakery kick starter, the other made from scratch by me. The previous day there was not much development. Both batches are fed organic/ dynamic whole rye. There were bubbles but no real growth. I believed that it was simply not warm enough (17-18 Celsius). Even the warmest spot in the house could not stimulate enough growth. This morning the problem was solved thanks to Akke’s tip on using a Cool Box with a warm water bottle. Both jars are in “The Snug Bucket”, :-) the thing formerly known as Cooling Box together with a hot water bottle. A towel separates the jars with starter and the hot water bottle, in order to prevent overheating.
    So thanx guys for maintaining this blog and attracting all these reactions, really helpfull for a sourdough newbie!

    Greetings!
    Chris

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      That all sounds marvelous Chris. Bit of DIY seems to do the trick for you.
      Soon you will be a true sourdough proficient!

      Marieke & Ed

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  70. Natalie says:

    Thank you for this informative site, and apologies if you have answered this question before.. (there are a lot to read through!). I tried making the starter and got the aeration, but on day 4 (note I forgot to top up and stir on day 3) there was white fluffy mould on the inside of the jar and it didn’t smell very good. I did put boiling water in the jar and on the spoons beforehand to eliminate bacteria. I’ll have another go but wondering if you have any suggestions?
    Thanks, Natalie

  71. Natalie says:

    Sorry I just skimmed up a little and saw that you did answer this question previously! I hope it’s not the flour as I bought a large bag of organic rye flour…. I will try again and see how I go…
    Thanks again, Natalie

  72. Carol Ann says:

    Hi,

    I have been following along your very helpful tutorial.

    On day 3 my starter was more than doubled in size. Day 4 I completely forgot to check it. LOL

    Today is day 5 and it’s about double where it was on day 3 and it smells okay so I think it must be alright. I removed 2/3′s and added 30 g flour and 30 mL water.

    Tomorrow I will check it again and follow the steps accordingly but tomorrow evening I am going away for the weekend.

    Is it okay to just put it in the fridge and then when I get back, pick up where I left off? If so, should I leave it out after refreshing it tomorrow morning, until I’m leaving late afternoon and then put it in the fridge? Or just put it in right after I refresh it?

    Thanks :)

    Carol Ann

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Carol Ann,
      You should do exactly that: refresh it early tomorrow morning, hopefully see it get a bit active before you leave in the afternoon and then put it in the fridge. Pick up where you left it after you return. You should be fine this way.

      Happy weekend and happy baking!

      Marieke

  73. Carol Ann says:

    Thanks so much, I appreciate it!

  74. Sandra says:

    Hi,

    Over the weekend, I baked my first whole wheat levain loaf using your recipe with sourdough culture that I got to work. After using the amount the recipe called for, I added flour and water to the culture and put it back in the fridge. When I go to bake another loaf over the weekend, do I need to refresh it first before using or do I use it as is from the fridge and refresh after?

    Thank you!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Sandra,
      First of all, after feeding you need to keep the culture at room temperature for one day until doubled in height before you put it back in the fridge.

      Depending on how long it has been in the fridge you can either use it directly from the fridge or need to feed it first. Our rule of thumb is that if it has been left in the fridge for a week or more you need to refresh it first and leave it for a day at room temperature so it will be ready and active the following day. So my advice would be to do the last if you only bake at weekends. This way you are always sure your culture is active and working.

      Happy Baking!

      Marieke

  75. Ginny says:

    Hello sourdough bakers,

    I have been working with a 100% rye starter for some time now. My original starter was boosted with blueberries, left in the starter for a good long time (many feedings – I lost a few in there) and then eventually removed. The yeasts from their surfaces help make my starter very active. Apparently they like living with my local bacteria. I saw the comments about getting an acetone smell, either after some time or almost immediately, during culturing. If you do a bit of checking, you will find that there are some specific bacteria that, if present and conditions are right, will make acetone as a by-product. Apparently they are anaerobic (live in the absence of oxygen, quite often in soil). With this in mind, a tightly closed jar, might contribute to the right kind of conditions for them to get a foothold. Using a plate or saucer as a cover, instead of a jar lid, might help keep them at bay.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thank you Ginny for this very interesting addition and great sourdough culture tip!
      And I love the idea of a culture that is ‘boosted by blueberries’ it sounds marvelous and fruity.

      Happy Baking!

      Marieke

  76. Rachael says:

    This is such a great blog!!! Really makes me hungry just reading and looking at the pictures : ) I recently baked my first loaf of bread and it was incredible!!! I used a starter my friend told me about. It’s from Sourdough’s International and now I have to spread the word! I loved it. Definitely going to order more when it comes the time.

  77. Tanya's says:

    I am having difficulty converting ml to ounces and grams to ounces, even though I am using a conversion chart. It seems like the amount added is about a tsp or so sometimes…..

    So I could start with ? oz. of water and ? oz of flour? Just to give me a clue as to what amount I am looking at. Thanks so much!!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Tanya,

      One gram in weight is about .035 ounce. One ml is 1/5 of a teaspoon, a teaspoon is 5 ml of water. One fl ounce is 30 ml of water.
      For this recipe you start with 40 g of flour and 40 milliliters of water. Converted this would be 1.4 ounces of flour (you can also take 1/3 of a cup) and 1 fl ounce plus two teaspoons of water.

      Good luck with it and happy baking!

      Marieke

  78. Sotia says:

    Hello weekend bakers! I loved your blog and you being so helpful so I decided to give it a try and make a starter of my own. Up to day 4, the results were not encouraging as I could see some activity but no rise at all. I was about to give it up but Today, day 5, I fed it and i suddenly saw it rising much more than double! Forgive me if this sounds silly, but though I read all the comments, I am not sure what I am suppose to do now. In your description you say to let it rest for a few days and it will get better. Shall I stop feeding it and put it in the fridge? And if I use it this weekend, shall I take it out of the fridge, take a small amount and make a poolish and then feed the remaining starter and put it back the next day?
    Thank you so much for your support!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Sotia,
      Sounds all very good. We would suggest the following: just keep up the refreshing and feeding regime until the weekend.
      Use what you need for your baking during the weekend. Feed it after that and wait until your culture is big and strong again and then store it in the fridge.
      If you want to bake again the following weekend, get it out one day in advance. Refresh it so it will be ready and active the following baking day.

      Hope this works for you.
      Happy Baking!

      Marieke & Ed

      • Sotia says:

        Dear Marieke and Ed,
        Thank you so much for your immediate respond!! I am really impressed with you and that you find the time and the patience to give us all an answer with all the details too! Thank you for your help, I will follow step by step your advice :)

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Glad to be of help! Let us know how you get on with the baking.

          Lots of loaves!

          Marieke

  79. Gigi says:

    Today is my 3rd day of making this starter and my first time refreshing it. Maybe due to the hot weather in Malaysia (35c), the starter doubled up on the first day and has a quite acidic smell. My question: when will be the good time I can use this starter in my baking? I can’t wait to try out your 70% rye bread recipe.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi,

      Gigi you should feed and refresh for a few more days (at least 5 but better 6) so be patient. Because of the weather and temperature we would recommend to refresh maybe even every 12 hours instead of every 24, because at 35 degrees it all goes so much faster. When your starter doubles and smells nice and fruity, then it will be ready for baking.

      Good luck with it!

      Greetings from Holland,

      Ed & Marieke

  80. Joost den Ouden says:

    Ik gebruik nu met succes al 4 maanden mijn roggezuurdesem, alleen krijg ik de laatste tijd, ondanks exact volgen van de beschrijvingen niet echt grote luchtkamers meer in m’n broden terwijl ik dat eerst wel had. Ik bak meestal op zaterdag, dan voeder ik ook m’n desem, laat de desem een weekje rijpen in de koelkast en gebruik het dus de volgende vrijdagavond weer.

    Ik wil graag m’n grote gaten weer terug. Wat doe ik verkeerd?

    Grt Joost

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hallo Joost,

      Twee vragen: is je meel inmiddels wat ouder of ben je van merk veranderd of heb je een nieuwe zak aangesproken? En laat het het desem na het voeden ook een dagje/nacht actief worden /verdubbelen voordat je het in de koelkast plaatst? Zie boven ook bij ‘how to maintain your starter’.

      • Joost den Ouden says:

        M’n meel was inmiddels wat ouder geworden, dus ik heb een nieuwe zak gekocht. Vervolgens reageerde de zuurdesem heel goed, tijdens de nacht op de aanrecht was het meer als verdubbelt en ook zeer actief.

        De structuur van m’n broden is heel goed, maar ondanks weinig kneden en zo min mogelijk frummelen met het deeg tijdens het vormen krijg ik geen grote luchtgaten. Ik ga nu proberen om direct na de voedernacht op de aanrecht eens een voordeeg te maken en daar brood van te bakken. Ik bak namelijk altijd met een week “oude” zuurdesem.

        Goed idee?

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hallo Joost,

          Ja, interessant om te bekijken of dit verschil maakt, we zouden het eerlijk gezegd niet weten. Je doet niks verkeerd en je hebt slechts 1 variabele veranderd (het meel) en dat gaat verder goed. Je zou nog wat kunnen experimenteren met de lengte van de autolyse en het aantal keren S&F en de kneedtijd nog wat terug kunnen brengen (van bv 5 naar 4 of 3).

          Succes ermee!

          Ed & Marieke

  81. Anh Van Ngo says:

    Hi, thank you for interesting guideline. In my case, it raised very quickly after 4 hours and then collapsed after that. Therefore, I have repeated the steps in previous day, but it just improves a little bit! The starter smells alcoholic. Should I shorten the period, e.g. 8 hours instead of 24 hours? Or maybe place the jar in a cooler place? Thank you so much in advanced

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Anh,

      Yes that is a very good idea, both the shortening of the period. 8 to 12 hours I would guess if, at the same time, you would also move it to a cooler place. Hope this way you will get that fruity smell soon. Just keep an eye on it and check and smell how it is doing.

      Good luck with it!

      Marieke

  82. judith pitsinger says:

    Thank you for the information. What a wonderful web-sight. I will try the rye sour dough from a starter I made. We love sourdough.

  83. judith pitsinger says:

    I hit the wrong key. I lost the rye sourdough starter recipe? Can I have it again please.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Judith,
      We want to help you but we do not know if you are referring to the recipe for the sourdough starter because it is on this page. Or did you mean something else (maybe a rye bread recipe) ?

      Marieke

  84. Pingback: My favourite sourdough bread - Magda's Cauldron

  85. Sjef says:

    Hallo,
    Op basis van jullie recept heb ik geprobeerd een starter te maken, maar biede keren ging het niet goed. Ik hoop dat jullie me wat tips kunnen geven. Ik gebruik volkoren rogge meel van de molen in Wageningen. Op dag twee zitten er mooi bellen in de starter en op dag drie is hij (bijna) verdubbeld. Beide keren ging het mis op dag vier. De starter ruikt dan naar nagellakremover en is niet gegroeid. Weet iemand wat er aan de hand zou kunnen zijn?

    – in english –
    I tried twice to produce a rye sourdough starter using this recipe, but it failed both times. I use organic whole grain rye flower from the mill. At day two the starter shows some bubles and it doubled in size at day three. At day four things go wrong and the starter smells like nail polish remover. Is there anyone who has an idea what goes wrong?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hallo Sjef,

      Nagellak producerende bacteriën vinden zuurstof niet leuk!
      Ons advies is dus: Meer roeren, echt 30 tot 40 seconden flink omscheppen en ook gedurende de dag nog 1 of 2 keer extra roeren. Daarnaast de deksel los op het potje leggen zodat er nog wat zuurstof bij kan. Dus als je dit weer ruikt op dag vier, niet stoppen maar doorgaan met bovenstaand advies en de stappen blijven volgen en hopelijk gaat de geur dan weg.

      Succes ermee!

      Ed & Marieke

  86. johnny boy says:

    hi 1st time starter starter is it to be so thick day one
    regards jcd

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Johnny,
      If you find your starter to be a bit too thick it is no problem to make it a little bit more liquid by adding some more water. Each flour has a different absorption so you have to use your own judgement a bit. If it becomes so thick that stirring is heavy, just ad a splash of water, no problem.

      Good luck with it,

      Marieke

  87. Petra Robinson says:

    I really love this tutorial on starting a Rye starter.
    I have a fantastic Starter , a white Breadflour Start that lives in the Fridge which I feed once a week after taking some out for baking a nice Bread at the weekends.

    I am at day 2 with the Rye starter, a few hours ago I added the 20 g. of Rye Flour and the 20ml of water and I could already see bubbles at the side of the glass :)

    I can not wait to be able to use this starter.

    Can I keep the Rye starter in the fridge as I do with my white starter?
    Feeding once a week when I take some for baking bread?
    Petra

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Petra,

      We have exactly the same routine, (being weekend bakers too) so yes it is perfectly fine to treat it the same way you do your white starter. After feeding we keep the culture at room temperature for one day until ‘doubled in height’ before you put it back in the fridge. We love the rye culture and hope you will like it too.

      Happy baking!

      Ed & Marieke

      • Petra Robinson says:

        Oh great, yes, I do the same with my White Starter, I leave it out until doubled in size before he goes back in the fridge.
        Cool.

        I shall check out your recipes, they look great.
        Petra

  88. Petra Robinson says:

    You say:

    Day 5: If your starter did at least double in size during the last refreshment your starter should now be ready for your first baking project. Also at this stage your starter should be developing a nice fruity smell during next few days. You can now let your starter rest for a few days, mine did develop a nice fruity tone on day 6 which got even nicer on day 7. If it did not double between day 4 and 5 repeat the directions at day 4. Just keep using and maintaining the starter from now, after a while the color of your starter should get a little bit more beige after it has tripled after a feeding (notice the difference in color of my old and new starter). This is a sign of maturation of the starter and the production of acid.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    What do you mean when you say : you can now let your starter rest for a few days…

    Do you mean not feedin/refreshing for a few days?

    Petra

  89. Christopher Heath says:

    Hi, after an awful time making starters, I chanced upon your site. I decided to follow your instructions for an all Rye starter and I am now (as I type) half way through my second day. The temperature here in London UK has been around 15 – 17 degrees so not very warm and I have had the starter I’m my lounge which is the warmest part of the house, with tissues wrapped around it like a blanket. Well, I just had a look at it to see if there was any change, and to my surprise it has more than doubled in size. I am so pleased I thought I had to tell you. Thank you so much for your advice on making it and I am now an avid follower of your site.
    Many thanks
    Chris Heath.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Keep up the great starter Chris! Hope you will be baking with it soon,

      Ed & Marieke

  90. Petra Robinson says:

    What is it with day 3 for me * and others * that the Rye starter just do not want to double in size.
    I am on day 4 now, carried on regardless and see how it goes.
    It smells wonderful , nice and fruity, just to lazy to move lol.
    As for now I am not to worried, I shall see it through but I wonder if throwing 2/3 of the Starter away on day 3 is just to much and maybe just start to through 2/3 away on day 4?

    If this batch does die on me I shall try it with the next.

    LOVE your responses to all our cries for help, it really is a wonderful.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      You did well, just keep on going. The smell also indicates all should be fine. If by the next day you see no activity anymore you can always resort to the 2/3 away throwing. Just give it a little extra time.

      Marieke

      • Petra Robinson says:

        It grew a tiny little bit, i shall starve it tonight and tomorrow take half out and add 20 ml Water and 20 g Flour and pretend it was day 2.
        I am not givin up on * him *
        Can almost taste the bread.
        The smell is so much nicer than my white flour Starter * Gordon * lol.
        Yep, I name my Starters.
        This one will be * Gerda * hehe

  91. Petra Robinson says:

    I had to start new today, the other one just did not do anything anymore after day 3.

    I also now used 30g of Rye and 40 g of Water, the other formula was way to thick for me to handle.
    Hope second time lucky, if that does not work, could I convert my wheat Starter into a rye starter?

  92. Petra Robinson says:

    It worked!!!
    3rd time lucky:)
    The first 2 feedings I used 30g of Rye Flour 40ml of Water to keep it a bit more thin.
    3rd and 4th feeding was 30g Rye Flour and 30ml Water.
    Now my Starter is doubeling and trppeling so fast, lots and lots of bubbles.
    I now let him rest a couple of days, than I shall feed him a few times more, than I bake and then he goes in the Fridge:)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Sounds perfect Petra, good for you! You found your own optimum it seems so stick to it!

      Happy sourdough baking!

      Marieke & Ed

      • Petra Robinson says:

        I want to keep about 120g * like you Guys * in the Fridge, the 400g Jar I am using, is that big enough?
        Petra

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hi Petra,

          If it is a 400 ML jar it is just about right. 400 grams depends on what was in the jar, but the volume is important.

          Marieke

          • Petra Robinson says:

            Oh ok, it is a Jam Jar , I did it exactly the way you have done, wanted to be sure I am doing the right thing lol.

            Ok, I am glad it is ok. phewwww
            I was just worried that my Starter wants to escape since he is quite active.

            Petra

  93. Sandra says:

    Hi,
    New to your website and I absolutely love it! Great recipes.
    I noticed your rye sourdough starter recipe and I think it’s the only one on your website. Is this the starter used in all your sourdough recipes?
    By the way, do you have a sourdough pizza recipe?

    Thank you so much for sharing all this great information.
    Sandra

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Sandra,

      Yes we use the rye for all our sourdough recipes. We have done and still do some experimenting with other cultures, but the rye is our firm base. We’re sorry but at the moment we cannot recommend a good sourdough pizza recipe that we are enthusiastic about ourselves. We only have the sourdough pita to offer you: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/favorite-flatbreads-sourdough-pita/

      Happy baking and a great weekend,

      Ed & Marieke

  94. Petra Robinson says:

    My wheat Starter lives in the fridge , I take him out Fridays when I bake, take what I need, refresch and put him back in the Fridge again.
    My Rye Starter sits on the Kittchentable , how often should I feed him?

    So far I feed every 12 hours by taking out half and than refresch with 30g Rye Flour and 30 ml Water.
    I do not yet want him in the fridge since he is still quite young.

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  96. Colin says:

    Hi Marieke and Ed
    2 years ago I made a sourdough starter from your recipe and it worked but after 6 months it unexplainably died. I tried again several times to start another one but always got the “third day syndrome” so gave up. Because my wife loved your san franciso sourdough so much she asked me to try again. So I’ve been trying again but still can’t get passed the third day syndrome. I use organic whole grain rye flour, luke warm water and the temperature in the kitchen is between 20 and 22° so it’s hard to understand. On the second day it’s very active and doubles in size which is very encouraging but on the third day after refreshing, it just stops – no activity. I’m on my third attempt now and I’ve kept going like you say in the other comments and today is the fourth day and I’ve refreshed again today although it did nothing yesterday and it’s still inactive. It’s so puzzling. Have you any ideas what it could be?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      He there Colin,
      Very sorry to hear this. The only thing we can come up with is maybe try bottled water and see if that helps and /or another brand of flour….
      Maybe keep your starter at a very thick pancake batter thickness and give it some warmer water so it gets up to around 26 C to promote the growth of the yeast.
      You never know…for the rest you seem to be doing everything right. Maybe you can get some form of inspiration from our new tips: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/ too.

      Good luck with it!

      Ed & Marieke

      • Colin says:

        So I tried again and this fourth time I measured the flour and water exactly as you say. In the first 3 attempts I added more water because I thought it was too thick but this time I left it as it was. On the second day it had a few bubbles but didn’t rise at all, on the third day it had a few more bubbles and rose by not more than half and yesterday day 4 it more than doubled. This morning on day 5 it still has plenty of bubbles and hasn’t collapsed so it looks like I’ve managed it. Hooray! I think because I made it too wet, it developed too fast and then exhausted itself.
        So now I should rest it for a few days without feeding , I assume. Is that right?
        I’ll use it Sunday evening to make the poolish for the tartine bread. Do I need to feed it again on Sunday before I use it in the evening or can I use it as it is?
        Seasons greetings from Colin

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Great news Colin!
          We think your analyses is right.
          We would suggest you keep feeding it now. So feed it again today and tomorrow (because it is still young it is good to feed it a few days extra) use it on Sunday in your poolish. Then feed again and on Monday (after it has doubled or tripled in size) put it in the fridge and get it out one day before you want to use it again and refresh.

          Good luck with it and with the Tartine bread.

          Happy baking and happy Holidays!

          Ed & Marieke

  97. Sarah says:

    Hi Marieke and Ed,

    Thank you very much for your starter recipe. This is the first time that I making a sourdough starter based on rye flour. In the first four days the starter developed very good. However, this morning I noticed a darkened (with a white spot/film) and hard top layer. The starter itself had developed good and smelled nice. Could that white spot be mold? Because I didn’t know for sure if it was mold, I just scrapped it off and threw it out and then repeated the instructions of day four.

    I’m just not sure if I made the right decision by scrapping off the layer and feeding the starter again? And then an another question; if this desem keeps developing nicely, can I stop tomorrow with feeding it and let it rest (in my case day 7 and 8) on room temperature or in the refrigerator?

    Thank you very much!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Sarah,
      We are wondering why the top layer got hard. Did you not have a lit on the jar?
      The smell is the most important thing to go by, so if it smelled nice and there was a little white spot (could also be from the rye grains maybe) and you removed a layer and now it still smells nice and is active, we think you are doing well. If you want to use the starter for baking immediately after the resting you can just keep it at room temperature. If you are not able to use it after day 8 for whatever reason you can best store it in the fridge and get it out one day before you want to use it and refresh it so it will be ready and active the following day.

      Good luck with it and happy baking!

      Marieke & Ed

  98. Viktoria G says:

    Hi, just wondered If it is mistake or is it intended to be so: I was reading several pages with rye sourdough recipes and all other places it said that from day 2 half of mixture is thrown away, but I see that u wrote that it should be done from day 3. Is it just another method or? I am thinking on trying to make rye sourdough for the firt time, would be good to know if it is correct.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Victoria,
      It is indeed intended like this! We believe that it is better to get e little more development first before throwing half the mixture away. It would be a shame to do this while the culture is just getting up to speed. That is why we allow for a little bit more time. It works great for us and many others so we hope you will give it a try too.

      Good luck with it,

      Marieke & Ed

      • Viktoria G says:

        Thank you so much for Answer! I am planning to give it a try this weekend:)). Looking forward…:)

  99. helen says:

    Hello Weekend Bakery! I have found your website and have made a starter! I have little bread baking experience and have the following questions. Having made the rye starter and resting it until day 7, is it ready for baking? Do I use what is needed , feed the remains in the jar and refridgerate directly until next needed? – or must it develop and bubble first before refridgerating. Also, when needed for the next baking – do I remove It from the fridge and use what is needed directly (at room temperature) or must I refresh first before using , and do I refresh at room temperature or whilst still cool? I would be very gratefull for your answers if you have time! Many thanks and kind regards, Helen

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Helen,

      Yes it will be ready for baking. And also yes, make sure it develops before storing it in the fridge, so wait about one day and it will be alright. When you want to bake and your culture is stored in the fridge, always get it out one day in advance and depending on how long it was stored, you need to refresh it first (see instructions below).

      So, normally you feed your culture after baking to replenish your stock. In between baking or when not baking for longer periods of time this is what you must do in general:

      When keeping your culture at room temperature
      At room temperature, around 21ºC, you need to refresh your culture every five days. At higher temperatures or when on holiday storing it in the fridge is a better option.

      When keeping your culture in the fridge
      Refresh your culture at least every three weeks. If you want to bake, get it out one day in advance. If it has been left in the fridge for over a week you need to refresh it first so it will be ready and active the following day.

      Good luck with it and we can recommend making these recipes for example:
      http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-pain-naturel/
      http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-mini-boulles/

      Also check out our sourdough baking tips: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/

      Good luck with it!

      Greetings,

      Ed & Marieke

      • helen says:

        Hello Ed and Marieke,
        Thanks so much for your time and advice, I really appreciate it! It sounds really clear – I think the penny has dropped at last! Will definitely try to bake the recipies you sent – they look fab!
        Kind regards and Happy New Year!, Helen

  100. Chris says:

    Thanks for this recipe, I now have a wonderful active starter!

    One question though. You say that you like to keep your starter a bit more stiff (around 80% hydration). But how do you use this starter then in recipes that call for a 100% hydration starter? Is this possible due to the small amount of starter that is used?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Chris,
      Yes exactly, the amount is so small that we are talking about a few ml less in the recipe and you will probably not notice that. Otherwise you can always compensate for it by adding a bit of extra water.

      Hope your starter will have a long and happy baking life!

      Ed & Marieke

  101. Viktoria G says:

    Hi. Sorry to bother again. But I just have a question. It is my 3rd try now on a starter. It all goes well until day 3 when 2/3 are triwn away. On day 3 after I feeded it 20g rye flour and water day before, it has more than doubled in size and lots of lots of bubbles formed, then I throw away 2/3 on day 3 and add 30 g rye/water all just looks to slow down a lot. Less bubbles and it barely doubled, maybe not fully doubled even. Do you know why it can be like this? Has I thrown a way too much or too little? What to do next then?
    Another thing – when you say put it to rest. It means let it stand at room temp without feeding?
    And one more thing I usually have to add a bit more water then you say cause otherwise mixure gets too stiff, it is probably the rye flour I have make it so, or?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Victoria,
      It all sounds very good and you should just continue. Sometimes it takes a bit longer and it could have to do with the amount of active yeast, the temperature, the water you use (if in doubt about clorine in water use bottled water) the thickness also. So keep it a little thinner and just keep going with the steps. Like it says in the instructions: ‘If your mixture is not very active yet, throw away half of the mixture and repeat the directions of day 2 again’ (so take an extra day to get up to speed). Even though it has not exactly doubled, everything indicates that your culture is alive so do not stop and start over. The smell is also a good indicator. As you go further in the process the smell should get nicer and fruitier.

      Good luck with it!

      Ed & Marieke

      • Viktoria G says:

        Hi, thx. But it anyways seems bad this time too. After yesterday’s feeding I thrower away half cause it was so little active. Since yesterday it hasn’t almost rised, it still got bubbles but seems very low activity there, smell is not bad though. It is quite good. Smells like beer a bit:(((

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          If all else fails, try another brand of rye flour. Always, if possible use the whole grain organic option because this gives the best chance for lots of active yeast in the flour. Give it a few more days, maybe with a bit warmer water and / or in a warmer place. Otherwise start again. It is quite normal for a lot of people (including us) to need a few attempts to get a good active starter. No worries!

          Marieke

          • Viktoriia G says:

            Thank you! Will give it some time. I use organic rye flower (wholegrain). But i will definetly try to move it to a warmer place in the house.

  102. Marianne Kovacs says:

    what a great, simple explanation and set of instructions! I like that you start off with much less than some other video turorials recommend. Less waste. the only thing I question or find confusing here is that you say you keep a thicker starter, which sounds much easier to handle for sure. But you instructions appear to be 50/50 water to flour feedings which sounds like what they call 100% hydration. Is it because you are using rye flour that it ends up thicker, or do you just cut back on the water for the feedings once you have the starter actively providing you with what you need for baking?

    I’ve bookmarked your site. Like I say, I love your simple approach and explanation. Good for beginners like me. Right now all I want is a successful starter and a good loaf of bread. Once I get that, I’ll delve into the scientific explanations. Marianne

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Marianne,
      Thank you very much! And yes, you are right. To explain what we mean: The instructions are for a standard, medium thickness and this is a good starting point. After that, you can decide for yourself how exactly you want your starter to be, a bit thicker or a bit sloppier, depending on your personal preferences and needs and the flour you use. With personal preferences we also mean the sourness you are aiming for. In general a thicker paste also means more sour. See our tips on sourdough baking for more on this subject: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/.
      Also with using these small amounts it does not make a big difference in a final recipe of you used 50/50 or 60/40, looking at the total amount of dough and the fact that you will probably add 10 to 15 grams of the culture for each loaf.

      Happy baking!

      Marieke & Ed

      • Marianne Kovacs says:

        My rye starter has shown minimal promise. Like so many other people have posted here, it seems fine for day 1 and 2 and then all of a sudden it doesn’t grow anymore. I see no bubbles on the sides of my container, only at the top. The smell seems to be like beer in the rye starter, but I get a lot of “hooch” . I start out with a thick batter, and overnight it gets thin and runny with the liquid rising to the top. Once that liquid sits near the top any bubbles I see on the very top of the mixture seem to be just a foam. QUESTION: Am I supposed to dump that liquid off? I have tried doing that, and I just get more forming within a couple of hours. Once that “hooch” comes along, whether I dump it off or work it back in, the rising process has quit. I refresh, but no rising occurs. Smells fine, no growth-no bubbles.. (I use clean utensils, I warm the bottled water in micro)…This is now my second attempt over a two week period. Should I dump it and start over? Anyone that can help, I would appreciate your advice. I have done lots of baking with active dry yeast, but this exercise has me stumped.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hello Marianne,
          Although it is normal when starting a culture that you would sometimes need a second or third try to get going, it is very unusual (to us at least) for a rye sourdough starter to develop a lot of hooch like you describe. We can only suppose that something is not quite right, possibly with the flour itself. We would suggest getting another bag of flour and start again. For the record: we use whole grain organic rye flour which works best for us.

          Good luck with it!

          Ed & Marieke

          • Marianne Kovacs says:

            It’s a miracle!! It finally started working. My rye starter is bubbling up a storm and the hooch (over production) has finally stopped. I see lots of bubbles, it smells like beer and all is well in the Land of Sourdough Starter!
            I looked at some other sites, and read that many people work on this project for as much as 10 days. and it is not unusual for your mix to be stubborn. Just like everyone says “every starter has it’s own personality”. I guess I was just too impatient, and if anyone else is reading this–hang in there as long as it smells fine and you are following directions, then it may just be slow. I’m so glad I didn’t give up! Thank you for your support and quick replies.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hooray and congrats! And you are very right, the smell is definitely the most important thing to go by!

          Happy sourdough baking,

          Marieke

  103. Lorraine says:

    Hello there! I started my sourdough starter last monday (using method above, and organic rye flour). Was going great guns until I day the steps for day 3 (removed 2/3, refreshed with 30g water/flour), but it hasn’t moved since then (so almost 3 full days). It grew a pale, very firm skin over the top with a sour smell, but once the skin was removed, I could see lots of bubbles in the remaining mixture. So I removed the skin and fed it again. Is it too far gone?
    Also, I am wondering if the temperature here is contributing to it not developing? Some days the temps go as high as 36deg, could this be killing my starter?
    Thanks,
    Lorraine

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Lorraine,

      I wonder how it was the skin formed. Did you cover the jar as mentioned? The bubbles look promising and if the smell is not off putting we would suggest you continue with the process because it should be fine. The temperature is a challenge…try to find the coolest spot in the house because maybe the skin has formed because the moisture has evaporated. With these temperatures you should try and adapt and find a good refreshing pattern that is probably more often.

      Good luck with it!

      Marieke & Ed

  104. Viktoria G says:

    Hi, just wanted to post my experience since i had trouble with getting good active starter. Maybe this can help someone who might have the same problem. After many tries I just couldn’t figure out why my starter is smelling good, making bubbles but it barely if not at all doubles in size. It went ok to bake on it but still I looked for a reason…. It wasn’t water or temperature that was a problem for sure. Then I made a research and experiment and found out that problem was that I used flour that way too much whole grain … What works best for starter is medium whole grain. That was also a reason why I had to use almost double as much water before for my starter, cause as it was completely whole grain it absorbed more water and probably was too heavy in its consistency to lift itself up while maturing. When switched to a bit less whole grain flour all went just fine. Hope this helps someone who has trouble with making a starter.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience and this tip Viktoria! You are very right, every flour can be and act differently and your solution we are sure will help other bakers too.

      Happy baking,

      Ed & Marieke

  105. Mamuka says:

    Hello,
    Hi there,
    Thanks a lot for the great site.
    Today my third attempt on getting sourdough starter going ended with fiasco.
    Not that I am going to give up though. I have the same 3rd day problem of my starter going dormant after vigorous bubbling and growth as others. It does have more or less nice fruity smell as you describe it. And I keep on feeding it in the hope that it will revive, and I can persist on doing so, no issues with my patience.
    However the thing is, whilst I am busy with resuscitation the poor thing develops mould. My question is, can it be kept outside fridge for days on without catching a mould? After all it is an organic matter full of bacteria and culture.
    I am in Australia. It is 24-27C this time around. I use organic rye flour (packed in plastic bag) and bottled water.
    Any ideas, please.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Mamuka,
      Like we say in our sourdough tips post: Any signs of fluffy stuff and strange colors on your culture. Something moved in that does not belong. So…throw it away and start again! (More sourdough tips here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/).
      Find the coolest spot in the house and refresh rather sooner than later. Keep it covered but not closely sealed, so some air can still get in.
      Keep on going because you are on your way. Do not give up!

      Greetings from Holland,

      Marieke & Ed

  106. Emma Tophill says:

    My rye starter produces bubbles and a yeasty, cider type smell that gets quite strong – but never seems to double in volume. My house is cold so I get it going using a cool bag and hot water bottle, but the smell develops before the bubbles – I’m worried it’s too acidic.

    I’m still discarding/feeding everyday to neutralise the smell/acidity….is it a big deal if it’s nots growing hugely? Is it time to move it to the fridge?

    I haven’t tried baking with it yet either. Help please!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Emma,

      It is best that it does, because the more enthusiastic, the better it will help you get a well proofed loaf. It this point it still sounds promising so we would encourage you to proceed but maybe play with the stiffness of the culture and keeping a different paste consistency for example. Check out our tips here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/
      And there are also helpful tips from other bakers in the comment above.

      Good luck with it,

      Marieke & Ed

  107. Titia says:

    Hello Marieke
    I’ve a problem. This is my third attempt to the sourdough, but it goes wrong every time
    They start out fine but after a while the nailpolish smell shows up.
    I’ve tried the advice that is on this page by feeding it twice a day and now it has a slight sour/polish smell is this ok,
    Or should’nt you be able to smell any sour smell and just the fruity one?
    Thank you in advance
    Titia

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      The first thing we would advice is trying a different (brand) flour and see where that leads. But we would encourage you to keep this one going and maybe refresh it a bit sooner and change the consistency a bit (maybe a bit thinner: also check our tips here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/. Make sure not to close the jar tightly, keep a very loose lid on it so some air can reach the culture.

      Good luck with it!

      Marieke & Ed

  108. Elvira Zakirova says:

    I transform my wheat starter to rye starter. And it works well, but i never made 74% rye bread so i would not know if my method suits this bread. Any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Elvira

  109. Patricia says:

    Dear Ed & Marieke,

    Your site is really wonderful, and I have learned so much from reading your tips. The first loaf of Pain Naturel I made was great. However, now whenever I refresh the rye starter, (as I’ve done a few times now, following your instructions) it does not double in size, although I do get some air bubbles in the starter. It seems not to move at all. When I made the original starter, I kept it in a yogurt maker and it tripled and doubled during the 5 days or so it was fermenting. Then on day six, I put it in the fridge.

    I am not doing anything different; what could be the problem? After feeding the starter, I leave it overnight in the yogurt maker. It is otherwise very cool in our kitchen right now, about 18C at most; even cooler at night.

    Should I not refrigerate the starter at all?

    Should I start over and not use the yogurt maker to keep it warm? It did work wonders in the beginning!

    Thank you.
    Pat

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Patricia,
      Thank you very much! The temperature from the fridge to again a rather cool place could be the culprit. The first thing we would suggest is transporting it to a slightly warmer place and see what happens. Maybe refresh it and use some slightly warmer water.
      At temperatures of 18 or below it is no problem storing your culture outside the fridge. You just need to refresh it about every 5 days (also when not baking with it).

      Good luck with it,

      Marieke & Ed

      • Patricia says:

        Thank you. It seems that the yogurt maker was heating up too much, so now I am putting my starters (individual spelt; rye; and whole wheat starters) inside a kitchen cupboard which has a light beneath it and this generates a nice warmth inside the cupboard. I have also increased the temperature of the water to about 28-29C and that is making a big difference.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Great to hear Patricia, how you tweaked your system to perfection!

          Thanks for sharing,

          Marieke

  110. Onewithnot says:

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for providing these instructions. I have never been able to manage to get a successful starter going, and I was able to do just that with your help. I used Hogdon Mills stone ground rye flour. The starter looked like it was taking off on day 2, but by day 4 it stopped working, and looked like it was dead. I was patient, and didn’t give up on it, and by day 6 it had doubled in size and has been going strong ever since. It looks very much like your pictures.

    I think the activity on the first 2 or 3 days is a “false start” from some kind of yeast or bacteria, and not the true starter culture. So anyone reading this should take heart, and don’t give up on you starter just because it looks dead!

    Thanks again, I look forward to baking with it.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi there,

      We love your analysis and determination! We are sure others can benefit from your experience too.

      Thank you so much and many happy baking days with your culture,

      Marieke & Ed

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  112. Helen says:

    Hello there,
    Please could you help me out with the steps taken from taking the starter out of the fridge to adding it to dough mixture?
    I keep getting so confused!
    Am not sure whether 1. remove from the fridge – bring to room temperature and add directly to the dough mix – without refreshing.
    2. remove from fridge – bring to room temperature – refresh – leave for at least 8 hours to bubble and THEN add
    to the dough mix
    Many thanks for your help and all the advice on your website!
    Helen

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thank you Helen,
      You always get it out one day in advance to get to room temperature. If it has been left in the fridge for over a week you need to refresh it first so it will be ready and active the following day. If shorter, you can use it without refreshing.

      Good luck with it,

      Marieke & Ed

      • Helen says:

        Thanks for your quick reply! One last check…..(I think I get it now) use what is needed after re-feeding , when it has doubled in size, and then put back into the fridge – but without feeding? Will jot all this down for future reference and many many thanks again!

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Normally you feed your culture after baking to replenish your stock, so you will have the same amount as you started out with. After feeding / replenishing you keep the starter at room temperature (usually around 21C) for about 12 hours so it can develop and double or triple in size. When it has developed you can store it in the refrigerator until the next baking session.

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  114. Ileana says:

    Hello,
    I seem to have the opposite problem…my starter is overly active. Last night (second day) I refreshed my culture and in the morning it was triple in size. I thought that it would be too long to wait a whole 24 hours, so I did refresh it again. Do you have any advice for me?
    Thank you,

    Ileana

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Yes we do,
      This is easily ‘fixed’, first by feeding / refreshing sooner, secondly by storing it in a cooler place if possible. But most importantly, just continue the process and go on to complete the 5 or 6 days needed to develop your culture and get it ready to use for baking. It may already look very active and ready, but it needs to fully develop and ripen.

      Good luck with it!

      Marieke & Ed

  115. Roger Coleman says:

    Hello Marieke,
    Six days ago I converted my Bread Flour culture to an Organic Rye Flour culture using a 50/50 flour water feeding. I was most surprised by the rapidity of the response however, I notice that the culture, although active, always becomes very viscous or thick and heavy after more than doubling its volume. I now feed it using a 100/50 water to flour addition but always have the identical result. I can stir it although it is thick but I cannot readily pour it out of the jar. I keep the jar atop the refrigerator but it never seems too warm. Do you think my culture simply thickens because it is the nature of the Rye Flour? I will greatly appreciate your comment.
    The contents of may culture jar look identical to the picture of your demonstration jam jar.
    Many thanks,
    Roger C. (Sydney, Australia)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Roger,

      Your analyses is very good. The description you give of the rye culture is exactly like it should be so no worries there. A rye culture is not something you can or must pour out of a jar, it is something you scoop out. The way we bake and use it in our recipes you only need about 15 g per loaf (see our pain naturel for example: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-pain-naturel/) and you add this to the preferment by dissolving it in the water of that preferment and then adding the flour and give it a quick stir. The next day you use the preferment with the other ingredients to make the final dough.
      Also check out our tips for sourdough baking and maintaining a healthy culture: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/

      Happy baking!

      Ed & Marieke

      • Roger Coleman says:

        Hallo Ed and Marieke,
        I considered writing thus: ‘Dankie vor jou vriendelike antwoord. . .’ but I remembered that it is so long since I have used the Suid Afikaanse Boeretaal ( Afrikaans) that I would likely make a fool of myself and worse still, you might not understand it ( because many Dutch folk I have met do not). Anyway, thank you for a response that eased my concerns.
        My interest is in bread-making generally but I must here confess that as a consequence of an incurable muscle disease kneading dough is no longer an option. I therefore use (dare I confess?) a bread making machine. Another interest is the No-Knead method and baking via a Dutch Oven. I have no doubt you are acquainted with various mixture ratios. I am interested in the 1:2:3 ratio where one uses 150g sourdough starter, 300g tepid water and 450g of flour. Will this work OK with Rye Flour instead of White Bread Flour? Also, could one use the fold and stretch method to develop the dough instead of having it sit inert in a bowl for many hours? I think I could handle the method having watched your video on the subject.
        Finally,
        I have recipe for a Light Rye bread which uses 300g Bread Flour and 180g Rye flour and the also a tablespoon of Gluten Flour. Any idea why Gluten flour would be required when so much bread flour is involved? Perhaps the recipe’s author used Gluten flour because he/she had it in the cupboard.
        Many thanks,
        Kindest thoughts and good wishes,
        Roger C.

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hi again Roger,

          We can understand perfectly! In Dutch it would be ‘dankjewel voor je vriendelijke antwoord’ so you can see how similar it is in this case. I understand quite a bit of Afrikaans and also have read some Afrikaans in the past and it is a joy to me to see how both language share so much and we would actually ne able to understand each other (partly anyway).

          We have to confess we never use the method you describe, but the ratio sounds OK to us.
          You can do all the things you say, but you have to keep in mind that the result will be different every time. We never advice to just take a recipe, never bake it like it is and immediately at first bake change the type of flour or method, unless you really know what you are doing and why.
          When using rye flour the result will be totally different, because rye has way less gluten than wheat. That is probably also the reason the gluten flour is added to the recipe you mention.
          Stretching and folding is a very good method for developing dough. It can be added to the process when you want to cut down on initial mixing or you can even leave out mixing altogether like you would do with the no knead method. Then there are methods that also omit the S&F, resulting in a different crumb and many times a more cake like consistency.

          Good luck with it and happy baking!

  116. Roger T says:

    Hi.

    I am following this recipe as I am looking to make Rugbrød; http://mydanishkitchen.com/2013/01/14/rugbrod-dark-rye-bread/

    I was not overly keen on using added yeast as I wanted to make my own sourdough and following a failure with my first attempt I decided to use your recipe. The dilemma I have is that the above recipe requires 198g of sourdough and I fear using your recipe I will be well short of this mark. I had success up to day 3 but did not throw out any of the mixture, added 40 and 40 in an attempt to have more sourdough and it failed to rise at all thereafter.

    I have gone back to day 2 and hope that tomorrow it will continue to rise but could you please suggest how I can create the necessary quantity of sourdough; is it a matter of adding in more rye flour and water the day before I bake or do I need to do something else?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Roger T

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Roger
      Why do we maintain such a small amount of starter?
      We work with a two step system. When using a preferment (like a poolish or a biga) we use about 15-20 grams of sourdough for a sourdough loaf like our whole wheat levain and pain naturel. With this small amount of sourdough you create a fully active sourdough preferment overnight which you then use to build the final dough. This way you can keep a small starter and still have the full sourdough flavor. Big advantage for home and hobby bakers is you are wasting far less precious flour when refreshing your culture than you would maintaining a big one!

      You can read more on this subject here: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/handy-sourdough-tips/

      Good luck with the starter and happy baking!

      • Roger T says:

        Hello.

        Thanks for the prompt reply, this is very informative.

        Given the rather unique nature of Rugbrod in comparison to your loaves, I am none the wiser as to how much sourdough starter I should be using given the quite significant volume of non-flour ingredients – cracked rye and linseed. Even using the percentages provided I struggle to work out how this would be applied to breads that have significant non-flour ingredients.

        Can you make any suggestions?

        Regards,

        Roger T

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          You can use 20 g of your sourdough culture with 90 water and 90 flour the night before, leave to ferment and use that the next day in your recipe.
          We can also point you in the direction of another rye bread that might be worth a look and a try (cracked rye) and which we love very much: http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/the-best-rye-bread/

          Good luck with it!

  117. andrea says:

    Hello!
    I’ve followed your steps, and have a question. My starter will double or triple throughout the day, after it has been fed. However it will also “shrink” back down near the end of 24hours. It looks like in your video that it stays pretty high? Any thoughts/tips? Thanks!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Andrea,
      No worries, this is perfectly normal and happens with our culture too. It rises up to a certain point and then shrinks a bit because some of the build up air escapes again. Sounds like your culture is doing just fine and you should continue as planned.

      Good luck with it!

      • andrea says:

        Thank you very much! Good news for sure. First bake this weekend, very excited!

  118. Ching Ching says:

    Hello!
    I followed every step, and my starter doubled or triple at the end of second day. At the third day, I followed “throw away two third of the mixture and add 30ml of water and 30g of whole grain rye flour, stir with a clean spoon for 30 seconds and store at room temperature.” , it seems didn’t rise up or just it rose up little after 24 hours.
    I threw it away and just started a new one from scratch, I am hoping this time will be ok.
    I read your June 12, 2014 email to Andrea, but my case is different. Would you please you help me to understand?
    Thanks!
    Ching Ching

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Ching! Please read our answer to the other comments like from ‘Sonya Kanelstrand’ and ‘Onewithnot’. It comes down to ‘keep on feeding’, different brand of flour, warmer or colder place. Happy baking!

  119. Jasper says:

    Hello!

    I want to make a starter from wheat flour (not whole-wheat). Is this possible? What difference will it make on the bake result?

    Cheers, Jasper.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Jasper. This is no problem, you make the starter from whole wheat, spelt, bread flour etc. Why we use rye you can read in ‘Why a rye starter culture?’. There will be a change in the final taste of the bread. Perhaps more sour, perhaps more sweet, all depends on the organisms growing in your starter as every starter is different depending on flour and location. Just give it a try!

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