Rye Sourdough Bread Starter

I know it is a matter of preference – some like yeast breads while others have a taste for sourdough ones. I undoubtedly fall into the second category. Sourdough is the only type of bread I knew growing up and I still associate the taste of REAL bread with that slight hint of acidity that gives it character. Accuracy is the only thing that sourdough requires. No fancy machines or expensive ingredients. Flour and water – that’s the whole secret 😉 

However, note that if you want to make a sourdough that lasts a few weeks you should use a whole grain rye flour. Darker, whole grain flours contain the outside part of grain and thus more micro-organisms which help build your sourdough. Wheat flour, especially refined white flour, is more suitable for using in cakes. According to baking specialists, lower grade white flour is too weak and while you may be successful, it is generally much harder to achieve a strong, active sourdough using just wheat flour.

In Europe, flours are divided into types according to strength. The more refined the flour, the lower the type. Stronger flours are less refined and contain more of the whole grain. Weak flour means flour with a low gluten (protein) content used usually for cakes and pastries. Strong flours have higher gluten content and are best for breads. Gluten is a sticky, gum like type of protein that can hold the C02 gas produced during dough fermentation and help the bread increase in volume without collapsing. It also contributes to a nice crust structure in the finished loaf. For example my white wheat flour is classified as type 500, while the whole grain rye as type 800. I personally prefer using rye flour, whether more or less refined, because it has more health benefits – is has higher levels of fiber, vitamin E and riboflavin than wheat flour; it also has an overall lower than wheat level of gluten which causes less blood sugar spikes 😀


  • 50g lukewarm water
  • 50g whole grain rye flour (+200g to “feed”)


In a 500ml glass jar combine 50g whole grain rye flour with 50g lukewarm water. Mix well, close the lid and leave in a warm place to ferment. “Feed” and stir the mixture for 5 days every 12 hours, according to the following schedule (adjust the hours so that they are suitable for you, but keep the 12-routine):

  • 8 AM: feed the dough – add the same amount of water and flour (50g +50g), stir well and leave in warm place
  • 8 PM: only stir the dough and return to a warm place

Repeat these actions for 5 days after which the natural yeast should be well developed. It is not recommended to use sourdough younger than 5 days. You can store it in the fridge for up to 2 months, feeding it once a week to keep the yeast active.

Here is my 2-month old sourdough. It doesn’t look pretty, but it works 🙂


4 thoughts on “Rye Sourdough Bread Starter

  1. fionaward says:

    I’ve only just started making my own bread, and I’ve been put off sourdough because the whole starter thing just seemed like another way in which my bread could fail! But you make it sound much easier than I was expecting, so I’ll have to give it a try now, thank you 🙂


    • Michalina says:

      Thank you Fiona! I find rye breads (and starters) easier to work with – they are less “gentle” and sensitive than the wheat ones. Please, let me know if you have any questions, I am happy to help! Good luck! 🙂


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