sourdough starter made with dark rye flour - on Day 3 - do i continue to feed with same flour?

Starter was very active 2nd day. Not so active now. Do I wait for lots more bubbles? Should I stir? Add water? Thanks you!

  • Posted by: Donna
  • May 26, 2020


HalfPint May 27, 2020
If your starter is not active, continue discard/feed with the rye flour. Rye and grain flours are better for getting a starter going because they tend to have more wild yeast in them.

"Do I wait for lot more bubbles?". Your starter is quite young, so it is not going to bubble a lot unless you feed it (i.e., discard half and add more flour & water). You want more bubbles, give it more flour and water.

"Should I stir it?". It wouldn't hurt to stir it, but it won't make the starter more active.

"Add water?". Adding water alone is not going to make the starter more active. Water does not have any wild yeast in it. If you indiscriminately add more water, you will be changing the hydration percentage of your starter. Most sourdough recipes use a 100% hydration starter which means that the starter is composed of equal weight flour and water. I don't know how you made your starter, so I can only assume that you mixed equal weights of water and flour when you began this.

I made my starter using a rather simple recipe that required equal weights flour and water, a little bit of honey. I stirred everything together. The recipe instructed me to stir it twice a day for the next 5 days. No discard/feed cycle. Like you, lots of activity (bubbling) on Day 1, then nothing happened. The smell was putrid. I almost threw it out, but I kept to the recipe instructions. On Day 6, I discarded half and fed it with 100 g water and 100 g flour (whole wheat). I left it loosely covered on top of my fridge and in 3-4 hours, it started to bubble up and the smell wasn't terrible anymore. For the next 3 days, I did a discard/feed once a day, with white flour. By Day 10, it was a totally different starter. Moderately active and the smell was what a sourdough starter should smell like. I feed it until it doubled in volume and then I put it in the fridge. These days, it stays in the fridge and gets a discard/feed once a week when I made bread or pizza dough. The discards get used in a bunch of different things like buttermilk biscuits, pancakes/waffles. I've even made brownies and chocolate cake with the discards. And no, they weren't sour-tasting, more of lovely tang and slightly chewy texture.

Sorry for the novel. Hope this helps a little.
Donna May 31, 2020
Thank you much...I really appreciate your thoughtful answer. What was your "simple" starter recipe with honey? I may try another one and keep going with this rye starter. From your response, it sounds like even though i don't have a lot of bubbles, i should keep going with the discard/feed rye flour every day???
HalfPint June 3, 2020
Sorry, I just saw your new question. Here is my whole wheat starter recipe:

Yes, I would keep going. As long as you aren't getting pink and/or orange mold streaks, starter may still be ok. Just a little slow and likely not mature yet.

Good luck!
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