Bread Or Alive

Hi there,

Any help appreciated on this. I started my starter about three weeks ago. For the first two weeks, I only used strong organic white flour, as it's all I had in the cupboard at the time, and I'd seen other more basic starter recipes online only using white, so I stuck with it. It started promisingly, a pleasant fruity smell and all that, but after two weeks, had barely progressed beyond the surface bubbles, certainly no increasing in volume. Gradually it lost that nice fruity smell too. So I spotted on here that someone had had a similar problem, and was suggested they use rye too (as per the 'make your own sourdough starter' article). So I've been using rye too now for nearly a week, but no huge difference. The smell is less pleasant (not rotten eggs or anything, maybe a slight alcohol smell, which I thought might have been encouraging), there is a little increase in volume each day, but barely anything. Is a week with added rye not enough to see results? Where has the lovely fruity smell gone? Am I throwing good flour after bad?!


I might add I'm in London and it's been baltic over here for the past few weeks, and my starter resides in the kitchen where there is no central heating. Should I keep it somewhere warmer perhaps?


Like I say, any help appreciated. I thought I'd be into my first loaf by now, but no dice.




rossnroller 2010 February 4

Hi Bread Or Alive,

What sort of rye are you using? I had no success getting a starter going in cold ambient temps in the middle of winter (12-18C, mostly in the lower part of this range) while I was using fine-milled rye with plain flour (30%/70% respectively). Turned out the rye was the problem. I switched to whole-grain organic rye, and 12 days later - voila! Have had a brilliantly healthy starter ever since.

In my case, then, the cold ambient temps really were not a factor. Unless your inside temps are below 12C (and for your sake, I hope they're not!), I doubt that's a factor for you either. I specify 12C not out of any scientific reason, but because lower than that is outside the temperature range when I got my starter happening - I can only speak from my experience.

I followed the starter directions on this site, and with the organic rye/plain flour combo, it worked out just as stated.

Best of luck and let us know how you progress.


Bread Or Alive 2010 February 4

hi ross,


I don't have a room thermometer, so I guess ambient temperatures are probably average for a UK house in winter with no radiator in the room, so sounds like that's not the problem.

and nope, wholegrain organic rye is what I'm using, so I suspect patience is the issue. you said 12 days after switching you saw the results, and it's not been that long yet so maybe I need to sit this out.

it's just that I've wasted a lovely 2.5kg pack of Doves Farm Organic flour already with little to show for it so far.

the smell issue - I guess all starters smell different? if the taste provided by this starter is anything like how it smells now (like I say, not, ahem, vomitey or anything like that, but not a particularly nice smell, as it was when I started).

another thing I forgot to mention was the container. I'm using a clip-lid jar with a rubber gasket, but I'm not sealing it, just leaving it very slightly ajar (the gasket makes it so when the lid is closed and not clipped in place, there's a few milimetres of space open). It wouldn't be this, I'm sure, but thought I'd mention it.


thanks so far!

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