100% WHOLE Grain Starter??


 Hi there!


I need some help/advice. I am a health extremist if you will... as in I don't consume white flour of any sort.  I am on day 6 of my 100% organic rye starter and things are going well.  I am feeding every 24 hours, and I think I've got a 100% hydration starter going on.  I am doing equal parts of flour and water.  I dont know if that will impact the advice I am given, but I do want to know how often I should continue to feed my "little guy".  I have read that whole grains can be a little tempermental to use as 100% starters.  I just want to make sure I am doing this right and that I don't screw it up.  My only stipulation is that it be 100% whole grains, so ... hit me with all the advice you've got!  This is only my second time at making a starter... so I am definitely a beginning but very eager to learn!  


Thanks so much! :D


420 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2012 May 27

Hello Cleanmommy,

You have come to the right place, I am sure there will be plenty of advice forthcoming.

I would be sure to read SourDoms beginners blogs on this site as a starter even though he deals with white flour recipes a lot of the principles will still be the same.

I would continue feeding your starter on a daily basis for another few days just to be sure and then you could probably go over to storing it in the fridge and only refreshing it when you bake or once a week whichever is the sooner.

Your main difficulty, as I see it, will be baking with 100% wholegrain recipes.  You will certainly need to use higher hydration because of the greater water absorption that goes with whole grain flour.  The strength of the dough will certainly be less due to the presence of bran and germ that will interfere with the continuity of the gluten strands/sheets.  Low gluten flour, such as rye, will have little strength and will almost certainly have to be tinned to get reasonable rise.  There have been some recent blogs here on baking with rye.  There has also been a blog , by Staffo as I recall, on gluten free sourdough.

I know this might sound a bit dire, but the main thing to remember is that it is almost impossible to make something that is inedible and the most reliable way to success is to try, try, try again.

Let us know how you go and good luck with your projects.


Cleanmommy 2012 May 27

 Thanks so much!  I will definitely read those blogs. 

I don't have a problem using other flours.  I am not stuck on rye, but its what I started with, so I can move into a whole wheat or spelt if the higher gluten content will help.

Can't wait for more and more advice!  Thanks!


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 May 28

 I think whole grain starters are easier to take care of than white flour starters.  If your statrer is fermenting and smelling good then you should have nothing to worry about, just keep up the good work.

Cleanmommy 2012 May 28

 That's great news!  So should I keep feeding it the same amount daily?  Should I increase the hydration now in the starter or just in each recipe I use?

Cleanmommy 2012 May 28

 That's great news!  So should I keep feeding it the same amount daily?  Should I increase the hydration now in the starter or just in each recipe I use?

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 May 28

Hello CleanMommy

From what you have said, you are hot to trot and start making bread.

100% hydration is pretty normal for a starter and, although some recipes call for different hydrations for the starter, there are a couple of options.  You can change the hydration by doing a progressive build from a small amount or you can use your normal starter and adjust the amount of flour and water to give the final hydration for the dough.  I've put up a couple of spreadsheets for doing the calcs.



What I do is keep my stock in the fridge.  The night before I am planning to bake, I take 90g of stock and build it with 45g of flour and 45g of water and leave it on the bench overnight and it is ready for mixing dough the next morning.  I add 45 g flour (20%rye and 80%white) and 45g water to my stock container, mix it in and put the container back in the fridge.  I have gone straight from stock to dough without problems but it is nice just to be sure that things are alive and well.

Look forward to hearing how you go.



Cleanmommy 2012 May 29

 Hey Farinam!

Thanks! :)

I appreciate the charts!  Definitely will be keeping those!!  Would it be okay to use whole wheat flour and up the water a little instead of using 20% rye and 80% white?

I will surely keep you posted on my first (successful, hopefully!) recipe. :D


farinam's picture
farinam 2012 May 29

Hi Mackenzie,

Not a problem.  The flour blend was only what I do.  You keep on with your regime.  At 100% hydration a wholemeal starter will be almost doughy so upping the hydration a bit should give you a more fluid product, but it is not essential. Mine pours out of a spoon slowly and leaves a thick layer behind (5+mm).  Some people work with starter of a dough consistency even just keeping a piece of dough from their loaf prep and using it next time.

There are almost as many ways of doing all this stuff as there are bakers out there.  So don't feel restrained to do something you don't want to do as long as it is sensible.

Happy baknig.


HopesHope 2012 June 6

 If you find that aren't getting the rise you are looking for in your bread, due to the low gluten, you can always purchase Wheat Gluten and add 15g of Wheat Gluten to every 56 gr of flour. 


A beautiful combination of flours I use is Spelt, Dark Rye, Whole wheat and white.   I take the total amount of flour and divide it by 4.   


Take care



farinam's picture
farinam 2012 June 6

Hello HopesHope,

That would be an extraordinary amount of gluten to add (about 20%) - surely there is a factor out somewhere?


sourdoughmama 2012 June 11

My advice comes with trial and error (1.5 years of baking with my homemade starter) as I have been wanting to make bread that is closer to 100% whole grain.  My starter though is fed with anything I have on hand including white flour, rye flour, etc. I like to vary it as I feel this will help me make any type of loaf with it.  My advice has to do with the liquids.  I love the Home Bread recipe on this site and use the 1-2-3 method (one part starter, 2 parts liquid, and 3 parts flour by weight in grams) as my foundation for any new loaf type and vary it from there.  The big difference for me is that my liquid is not water.  I make the yogurt for my family (no store bought at all) and we love thicker greek style yogurt.  Thus, I strain out the whey.   This is an awesome product full of nutrients, so I do not throw it out.  My favorite use of whey is in our bread.  I do NOT add it to my stock of starter (that I also keep in the fridge).  I simply replace by weight about half the liquid amount. I have done as much as all whey and as little as the tiny bit leftover from something else (I will add small amounts of yogurt at these times).  I prefer at least half.  The crumb is improved, the whole grains seems very happy. The bread is less dense. The dough even seems lighter.  We love it and of course the nutrition is so much improved with the protein in the whey.  The last bake of 100% whole grain, I used a mixture of flours, including wheat and spelt and maybe rye.  Then I took a large mason jar and filled it with a variety of whole grain kernels that I very briefly milled in coffee grinder and just barely covered in plain water to sit for about 18 hours...these grains included millet, maybe rye, spelt, kamut, flax, red winter wheat, maybe regular wheat, oat groats (in the end I recall having 5 or 6 different grains).  I added the whole thing to my bread after a few stretch and folds (given that this likely increased hydration, I did not increase the liquid and still used the 1-2-3 method). I had to use loaf tins due to 100% whole grain and high hydration.  With this method, I had 5 loafs of bread in the end and I believe that the dough began with 600 grams of starter (sorry it was a few weeks ago and I forget to take notes).  The bread is yummy with butter or jelly and so amazing toasted, you may never go back to white bread.

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