How to Make a Sprouted Rye Sourdough Starter

by Kaitlynn Fenley
three jars of sprouted rye sourdough starter on a white surface.

Learn how to easily make the best sourdough starter with just water and organic sprouted rye flour. With just two ingredients and seven days’ time you’ll have a healthy sourdough starter for baking flavorful, naturally leavened bread! We also included a quick 2-day sprouted sourdough starter recipe option for those of you who’d like to bake with this sprouted rye sourdough starter sooner.

All About Sourdough Starters

When it comes to sourdough, everyone likes to focus on the wild yeasts, but a sourdough starter isn’t all yeast, it’s a mix of yeasts, lactic acid-producing bacteria, and acetic acid-producing bacteria. In wild sourdough starters, yeasts first ferment wheat carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Then, bacteria in the sourdough starter metabolize the alcohols produced by the yeasts into acetaldehyde and then into acetic acid… making it sour. 

To read more about what happens microscopically in sourdough starters CLICK HERE and visit our regular sourdough starter recipe blog.

A Truly Mixed Fermentation

Fermentation in sourdough starters doesn’t happen in succession. As soon as the yeast produce any alcohol, the bacteria start metabolizing whatever alcohol is present into acids. So things do get sour early on. It’s not like the yeasts make all the alcohol first and then days later the bacteria decide to start metabolizing it. It’s simultaneous since it is a rich, wild, mixed culture.

Yeasts make bubbles and visible expansion in a starter, but bacteria make all the flavor. Bacteria start making things sour day one. The bacteria can also metabolize carbohydrates from the flour into acids outright, and then there are wild yeasts that metabolize the lactic acid produced by bacteria for energy. When there are more good bacteria present, they can help boot yeast populations too, by feeding them usable acids and eliminating the waste products (alcohol). The point of discarding and feeding is to refresh the usable substrates available to all the microbes so that the accumulation of waste products does not kill the yeast and bacteria. Sourdough is so fascinating because there are so many different types of microbial metabolism and fermentation happening all at once. 

Recently researchers have studied the addition of fruit juices to sourdough starters to enhance the flavor. Adding lemon juice and apple juice provides microorganisms with citrate and malate, respectively. Microbes are able to metabolize citrate and malate to produce lactic acid and buttery aroma compounds in the sourdough starter. (1)

three jars of sprouted rye sourdough starter on a white surface.

Ingredients and Tools to Make Sprouted Rye Sourdough Starter

  1. Sprouted Rye Flour: I use organic sprouted rye flour from a company called Lindley Mills.
  2. Water: Filtered water is best. But tap water works fine too. If you don’t like your tap water for drinking, use filtered water. I just use tap water that has been filtered through our water filter pitcher.
  3. Glass Jars and Cheesecloth: I like to use a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar with some cheesecloth on top to grow my sourdough starter. The mixture needs access to air to grow, so you cannot use a traditional mason jar lid. I just secure the cheesecloth to the jar with a rubber band. Sometimes I also use the jar pictured here and I just leave the lid loose. You’ll need two jars to switch back and forth between feedings. 
  4. Kitchen Scale: If you frequent our blog, you should already have one of these on hand. You can find a good kitchen scale option HERE. If you’re going to master fermentation of any kind and baking, you definitely need a kitchen scale. A sourdough starter is more forgiving than fermented vegetables, so you can use approximate volume measurements for this recipe too. We’ve included both options in the recipe. If you’re going to experiment with different flours for your sourdough starter though, you should use your kitchen scale for measurements. Some flours are denser than others, so you need to weigh for recipe consistency. Nobody enjoys a dense loaf of bread. 
  5. Environment: Temperature is important when it comes to growing healthy yeast and bacteria in a sourdough starter. Your kitchen temperature should be between 68-78 degrees F.
a hand opening a container of rye sourdough starter.

Making Sprouted Rye Sourdough Starter

Step One (Day 1)

  1. In your glass jar combine: 
    • 50 grams of Sprouted Rye Flour
    • 100 grams of water
  2. Use a spatula to combine the flour and water. Stir until there are no clumps and the mixture is smooth. Make sure to scrape down any mixture from the sides of the jar.
  3. Secure a breathable covering to the jar (i.e. cheesecloth) and leave the mixture on the counter for 24 hours.

Step Two (Day 2)

  1. Stir sourdough starter mixture. 
  2. Add in 30 grams of sprouted rye flour and 60 grams of water. 
  3. Mix and scrape down the sides. Replace a breathable lid. Leave the mixture on the counter for 24 hours. 

Step Three (Days 3-7, Feeding and Discarding)

  1. In a clean jar add: 
    • 50 grams sourdough starter mixture
    • 50 grams sprouted rye flour
    • and 100 grams water
  2. Stir until evenly combined, and scrape down the sides of the jar. Replace the breathable lid and allow it to ferment for 24 hours. 
  3. Discard any remaining original starter mixture. Or you can find fun ways to use sourdough starter discard HERE
  4. Repeat every 24 hours through day 7.

Step 4 (The Night Before Baking)

  1. 12 hours before baking add to your jar of starter:
    • 50 grams rye flour
    • 100 grams water (if you really want to see your starter rise, use a little less water here.)
  2. Stir until evenly combined, and scrape down the sides of the jar. It should be similar in consistency to cake batter. Replace the breathable lid and allow it to ferment for 12 hours

Day 8 (Baking Day)

  • If your starter shows signs of bubbling you can use it for baking.

Quick Sprouted Rye Sourdough Starter Option (2 Days Total)

This is a fun way to speed up the sourdough starter process. Adding in a little raw, wild fermented sauerkraut brine helps to boost the Lactobacillus population in the starter. This means that the mixture gets more sour and flavorful faster! 

Some people online say that any bit of salt can kill yeasts in sourdough starters. Well, microbiologist Kaitlynn here to tell you that’s not completely true. Adding in a tiny bit of salt in the form of sauerkraut brine can actually help yeasts thrive by controlling their reproduction. There are a lot of wild yeasts that love to metabolize lactic acid even in the presence of salt. So adding in a bit of sauerkraut brine with lactic acid-producing bacteria helps the wild yeasts to grow and thrive. Thus, you have a thriving sourdough starter faster. 

Step One (the first 12 hours)

  1. In your glass container combine: 
  2. Use a spatula to combine. Stir until there are no clumps and the mixture is smooth. Make sure to scrape down any mixture from the sides of the jar.
  3. Secure a breathable covering to the jar (i.e. cheesecloth) and leave the mixture on the counter for 12 hours.

Step 2 (the second 12 hours)

  1. Stir sourdough starter. 
  2. Add in: 
    • 30 grams sprouted rye flour
    • 60 grams of water
  3. Mix and scrape down the sides. Replace a breathable lid. Leave the mixture on the counter for 12 hours. 

Step 3 (the third 12 hours)

  1. In a clean jar add: 
    • 50 grams starter mixture
    • 50 grams sprouted rye flour
    • and 100 grams water
  2. Stir until evenly combined, and scrape down the sides of the jar. Replace the breathable lid and allow it to ferment for 12 hours
  3. Discard the remaining starter mixture. Or you can find fun ways to use sourdough starter discard HERE

Step 4 (the Fourth 12 Hours)

  1. 12 hours before baking add to your jar of starter:
    • 20 grams fermented vegetable brine
    • 30 grams sprouted rye flour
    • 40 grams of water (if you really want to see your starter rise, use a little less water here.)
  2. Stir until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the jar. Replace the breathable lid and allow it to ferment for 12 hours

Step 5 (Baking Day)

  1. Perform a float test by dropping a teaspoon of starter into a cup of room temperature water. If it floats it’s ready for use. If it does not float but has bubbles and visible rise, you can still use it for baking.
  2. Put 50 grams of starter mixture aside to continue feeding (steps 3 and 4) for your next baking day. Use the rest for your bread recipe.

Things to Make with Sprouted Rye Sourdough Starter

one jar of sprouted rye sourdough starter on a white plate behind a cup of rye flower.
Print

Sprouted Rye Sourdough Starter

Learn how to easily make the best sourdough starter with just water and organic sprouted rye flour. With just two ingredients and seven days’ time you’ll have a healthy sprouted rye sourdough starter for baking flavorful, naturally leavened bread!

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1-2 Cups
  • Category: Sourdough
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

  • Organic Sprouted Rye Flour
  • Water

Instructions

  1. In your glass container combine, 50 grams of sprouted rye flour and 100 grams of water.

  2. Use a spatula to combine the flour and water. Stir until there are no clumps and the mixture is smooth. make sure to scrape down any mixture from the sides of the jar.

  3. Secure a breathable covering to the jar (i.e. cheesecloth) and leave the mixture on the counter for 24 hours.

  4. (Day 2) Stir sourdough starter. Add in 30 grams of sprouted rye flour and 60 grams of water. Mix and scrape down the sides. Replace a breathable lid. Leave the mixture on the counter for 24 hours.

  5. (Days 3-7, Feeding and Discarding). In a clean jar add 50 grams starter mixture, 50 grams sprouted rye flour, 100 grams of water.

  6. Stir until evenly combined, and scrape down the sides of the jar. Replace the breathable lid and allow it to ferment for 24 hours.

  7. Discard the remaining starter mixture. Or you can find fun ways to use sourdough starter discard.

    Repeat every 24 hours through day 7.

  8. (The Night Before Baking). 12 hours before baking add 50 grams of sprouted rye flour and 100 grams of water to your jar of starter. (if you really want to see your starter rise, use less water here.)

  9. Stir until evenly combined, and scrape down the sides of the jar. Replace the breathable lid and allow it to ferment for 12 to 24 hours.

  10. (Baking Day). Perform a float test by dropping a teaspoon of starter into a cup of room temperature water. If it floats it’s ready for use. If it does not float, but clearly rose and bubbled, you can still use it to bake.

  11. Put 50 grams starter mixture aside and continue feeding as in days 3-7 for your next baking day. Use the rest for your bread recipe.

Notes

  • this recipe is formulated using a specific type of flour, sprouted rye flour. If you use a different type of flour, such as all-purpose or bread flour, your starter will be a different consistency and texture. 
  • It is fine to use less water and more flour, this can be helpful if you want to see your starter bubbly and risen. A thicker starter will hold a rise longer. (higher hydration is better, in the beginning, to help get the microbes in the starter going). 

Keywords: sourdough, starter, rye

references

(1) Lemon juice and apple juice used as sources of citrate and malate, respectively, enhance the formation of buttery aroma compounds 

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2 comments

Linda February 1, 2021 - 11:05 pm

Hi Kaitlyn,

I just stumbled on your website and am obsessed! I was recently diagnosed with Dysbiosis and Candida, and I’m doing everything to change that and my microbiome.

By any chance do you have a video of making your sourdough starters?

Thank you!
Linda

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley February 10, 2021 - 3:14 pm

Right now the only video content we have is on our Instagram. We also teach via video in The Cultured Guru School of Fermentation

Reply

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