Spelt starter..... no idea what I am doing..... please help

Day 4
Day 4_bubbles
Day 5_bubbles


I am new to baking sourdough, but have been baking bread for the past year or so.

My husband seems to have developed a wheat intolerance so I am looking for alternatives for him, and it has been suggested that spelt might be good for him hence the spelt starter.  I am using Wholemeal spelt, I do have white available if that will work better

I started 5 days ago and it was going great for the first 2 days, but since then, nothing.

This was it at day 2:

But since then nothing. I fed it 50grams of flour and 50g on day 3 and there were bubbles but no growth.

I took out 150g on day 4 and added 70g flour and 70g water but still no growth, but there are some bubbles  after 5 hours. I had it in the laundry where it is around 28 degrees.

Day 4


I also gave it another 50g flour and 50g water last night, and again this morning (day 5) as someone said that it might just be hungry.

One last photo - this is around 2 hours after feeding

I'm just not sure what to do? 

Thanks in advance


edited to add that I am using wholemeal spelt flour

334 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 February 19

Hi shkooter,

I don't have any experience with spelt but the fact that it is making bubbles is a good sign. 

When you are getting a new starter going, they can go through stages of varying 'activity' as the environment changes and the yeasts and bacteria change to suit the new conditions.  The big volume increase that you saw in the first couple of days might have been due to a species that thrived in the fresh conditions but which cannot do so as the acidity increased over time.  Although this might have looked good, it is possible that this species is not one that you really wanted.

The amount of rise that you see depends on a number of factors.  One of these is the hydration of the mix.  For a given flour, a higher hydration culture might not 'rise' much because the gas bubbles can move freely and reach the surface and escape.  Another factor is the gluten content of the flour.  A low gluten flour might not show much rise because there is not the strength to form stable gas holding bubbles.  Another factor is the diameter of the container.  A larger diameter container might not show much rise because of the smaller 'wall' effect helping to support the gas filled foam.  Obviously all of these factors can interact in any given situation.

Anyway, I would not panic.  It will be the rise of the dough for your loaf that really counts.  Continue to develop your starter and when your week to ten days is up and providing that it is still active (bubbling) and doesn't develop any really nasty bad smells on a long term basis ( a day or two smelling a bit off generally doesn't matter) then you should be well away on your sourdough adventure.

Good luck with your projects.


Merrid 2013 February 19

I wouldn't worry too much just yet - 4 days isn't very long to establish a starter. Just continue on as you are and see how things are going after another week or two. You need to give it time to establish a stable colony of yeasts and bacteria to get consistent behaviour.

I'd also recommend you read through SourDom's blog on establishing a starter - even though you're using spelt, the process is the same. Spelt is an ancient cousin of wheat and there are some differences in baking as it takes up water at a different rate from regular wheat varieties, but there are recipes on this site that should help you when you start baking.

shkooter 2013 February 19

Thanks so much Farinam and Merrid.

I'll keep going for the next week or so - I was just getting a bit worried as there hasn't been very much activity compared to the photos of other starters that I've seen.  I have read SourDom's blog whic is great, but my starter doesn't seem to be acting the same way.  Maybe it's a bit slow, or maybe it's because I'm using spelt.

This is a whole new ball game :)

petanque 2013 July 13

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If your husband struggles with wheat.


Rye would be another alternative to try

phaz 2013 July 13
do keep at it. as farinam mentioned, it's not unusual at all to get a big rise in the first 2 or 3 days, especially when using just flour and water. seeing a few days of minimal activity after that big rise is also normal. odds are very good the first rise was due to unfriendly bacteria, now they have died out and another bug is starting to take over. the next phase you should see is the explosion stage, where the starter will literally explode with activity, and this time it will be due to the good bugs. you're almost there!

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