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Rye is an ancient grain with more than 7,000 years old, which originated in the Middle East. Rye often tastes best with long slow fermentation. That it makes it a great choice for starting a sourdough starter. Because its a whole grain has all those natural cultures of microorganism that create a great environment for a starter. Another reason you need to start the sourdough starter with rye flour because there is more “food” for the yeast to eat. You could substitute with whole-wheat flour or strong white flour (bread flour) if you don’t have rye. It may take longer for your starter to get active though. Also if you want to bake a whole sourdough rye bread you will need a whole rye sourdough starter.
One of the benefits of whole rye is that doesn’t spike blood sugar, for those with a tendency toward hypoglycemia.
Making your own whole rye sourdough starter takes about 7-10 days, and a good bit of vigilance. After searching online and reading a lot and failing at least 3 times using only strong white flour (bread flour) or a combination of strong white flour and strong whole wheat flour 90:10 ratio; I decided to try my first 100% rye sourdough starter and it was totally successful.
What do you need for successfully growing a rye sourdough culture? Just use water and organic dark rye flour in a glass jar. There are some people use unsweetened pineapple juice as has a bit of fructose which helps feed the microbes, but it’s also acidic so it helps prevent contamination from leuconostoc bacteria which can spoil a sourdough starter. But to be honest I did not use the pineapple juice I just use plain old water, well, spring water from a bottle to be exact, much better than tap water that contains chlorine than can kill all good and bad bacteria and your sourdough will never kick-off.
In a small-medium glass jar, whisk together:
- 3 1/2 tablespoons or 35g Whole Dark Rye Flour
- 1/4 cup Unchlorinated water or 60g (spring bottled water or filtered water) or Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
This should form a loose paste. Cover the container with a loose-fitting lid (I used a recycled tomato sauce jar, but you could use a Mason jar or Kilner jar), or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band, and set it on the counter at room temperature (25C to 30C) for 48 hours. As I live in Ireland up in the mountains and my house it is old and cold; I create a fermentation unit with a belt thermometer that my handsome husband uses for beer brewing and a cardboard box.
The mixture needs to breathe regularly and must be stirred 3-4 times per day. Every time we stir the mixture helps to get air into it and ensure that the right bacteria colonize the starter, and lack of air is one of the main causes of starter get mouldy.
Stir the mixture about 1 minute. I use a chopstick but can use a fork or a small spatula.
DAY THREE ~ FIRST SOURDOUGH FEEDING
After 48 hours, and 6 to 8 stirrings to get air into the culture, you should start seeing the first very tiny bubbles or you might not see any activity at this point. Don’t be disappointed, that’s normal.
Either way, bubbles or not, at 48 hours mark it’s time to feed your rye sourdough starter. Add-in:
- 2 Tablespoons or 20g Whole Dark Rye Flour
- 2 Tablespoons Unchlorinated water or 30g (spring bottled water or filtered water) or Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
Give the mixture a good stir with a chopstick, fork or a small spatula, and then cover it again with a loose-fitting lid. Allow the mixture to sit on the counter at room temperature (25C to 30C) for another 48 hours, keep stirring 3-4 times a day for a minute.
DAY FIVE ~ ACTIVE CULTURE & SECOND FEEDING
Although there may not have been much activity on day 3, but day 5 the culture should be very active and full of bubbles. In this feeding, if you were adding the unsweetened pineapple juice there’s no need to add it anymore. You can move on to adding just rye flour and water from here on. This time, feed the starter a bit more, adding:
- 5 Tablespoons or 50g Whole Dark Rye Flour
- 50g Unchlorinated water (spring bottled water or filtered water) or Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
- Give the mixture a good stir, at this point the mixture should look like a porridge (baby food or puree) and set it aside for 24 hours more. At this point, you stop stirring the mixture and just leave it sit, at the same temperature 25C to 30C covered with a loose-fitting lid.
DAY SIX ~ FIRST DISCARD
If you’ve worked with sourdough before, you know that once you have a healthy seed culture, you must either discard or use half of it with every feeding. Removing a part of the culture ensures that there’s no build-up of natural yeast by-products, acids, etc, from the active sourdough culture.
This discard can be used in your first rye sourdough loaf or try my WHOLE RYE SOURDOUGH CHOCOLATE WAFFLES, fed to chickens if you have or throw it in the composted. Either way, remove half of the whole rye sourdough starter or keep 60g in the jar, and then add:
- 60g Whole Dark Rye Flour
- 60g Water (Unchlorinated, spring bottled water or filtered water) Stir the mixture to incorporate.
FEEDING & TENDING A WHOLE RYE SOURDOUGH STARTER CULTURE
At this stage, you should have an active whole rye sourdough starter culture, and it can be looked after in the same way as any other sourdough. If you are going to keep it on the counter for daily use, good for you, I couldn’t bake every day even if I wanted to, discard or use about half the mixture daily, and then add in 60g water and 60g dark rye flour each day. On the other hand, if you are like me that bakes once a week you can keep it in the fridge, this will slow down everything and you can get away with feeding/using it just once a week.
Just after you feed it way 4 hours or so until your sourdough starter is at its pick point and transfer to the fridge. When you are ready to bake, take the starter out of the fridge leave it at room temperature (25C to 30C) for about 2 to 4 hours before removing half of the starter and feeding it as describe it above. Now you are ready to roll.
Also if you want to make a loaf of white bread and not 100% rye you can feed your starter with strong white flour or like I do, take the discard and place it in a clean jar and feed it with the strong white flour (bread flour) and now you have a white bread sourdough starter and keep feeding your other half of rye starter with just rye, so now you will have 2 starters instead of one.
Hope you enjoy my recipe and give it a go, snap a picture tag me on Instagram @ikarlina_l #ikarolina_l so I can see it. Also, I am on Pinterest iKarolinaL and Facebook ikarolinal . It will make my day.
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This is my recipe for a Whole Rye Sourdough Starter. If you like the recipe then consider sharing it with other sourdough lovers on social media.
WHOLE RYE SOURDOUGH STARTERCourse: Breakfast, Recipes, dinner, lunch, sourdough
Wild yeast or Sourdough, the old ancient way to make bread
225 g Organic Dark rye flour
260 g Unchlorinated Water (spring water or unsweetened pineapple juice)
- Day One
- Add 3 1/2 tablespoons or 35g Whole Dark Rye Flour and 1/4 cup Unchlorinated water or 60g (spring bottled water or filtered water) to a glass jar. Stir with a chopstick or a spatula. This should form a loose paste. Cover the container with a loose-fitting lid (I used a recycled tomato sauce jar, but you could use a Mason jar or Kilner jar) or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band, and set it on the counter at room temperature (25C to 30C) for 48 hours. The mixture needs to breath regularly and must be stirred 3-4 times per day.
- Day Three. First feeding
- Add 2 Tablespoons or 20g Whole Dark Rye Flour 2 Tablespoons or 30g Unchlorinated water (spring bottled water or filtered water). Stir with a chopstick or a spatula. Cover it again with a loose-fitting lid or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band. Allow the mixture to sit on the counter at room temperature (25C to 30C) for another 48 hours, keep stirring 3-4 times a day for a minute.
- Day Five. Second feeding
- Add 5 Tablespoons or 50g Whole Dark Rye Flour 50g Unchlorinated water (spring bottled water or filtered water). Stir with a chopstick or a spatula. The mixture should look like a porridge (baby food or puree) and set it aside for 24 hours more. At this point, you stop stirring the mixture and just leave it to sit, at the same temperature 25C to 30C covered with a loose-fitting lid or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band.
- Day Six. First discard
- Keep 60g of the starter, discard rest. Add 60g Whole Dark Rye Flour 60g Water (Unchlorinated, spring bottled water or filtered water) Stir with a chopstick or a spatula. At this stage, after 4 to 6hrs, your rye sourdough starter should be like in the picture active and alive.
- Your rye sourdough is still very young, so I would keep feeding it twice a day until the 10th day and then use to bake or storage in the fridge until you are ready to bake. You can keep the discards in a jar in the fridge and use it to make waffles or pancakes.