The BEST flour for a Sourdough Starter

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You want to start a sourdough starter and bake your own bread, but what is the best flour to use? Lets take a look at the BEST flour for a sourdough starter.

A close up of a glass jar of bread flour for sourdough starter

There is so much debate about what flour is best for the sourdough starter to feed on to make it healthy and strong. However, as with all things sourdough, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Today, we’re going to look at the main types of flour and see which is the best.

If you want to find out how to make a sourdough starter, check out this post here

Not all flours are created equal

Organic or plain

Flour is the milled berries of various plants so how the plant grew is obviously important. Whatever the flour type, organic is best if it’s in your budget.

This way, the tiny bacteria and enzymes that feed on the flour to make the bubbles are feeding on the least amount of chemical components possible. It may seem like something that won’t make or break the starter, and it’s not vital, but I always recommend going organic if you can afford to, for your overall health!

Mechanical or Stoneground

Next up is the process by which it is ground, or milled.

Mechanical grinding can damage more of the enzymes in the wheat and leads to high temperatures. In an ideal world, we want the least time possible between milling and baking, but stone grinding causes the least damage. It’s been done for years, and keeps temperatures low, and enzymes mainly in tact. Stone ground flour says so on the packaging.

Of course, the ideal way is to grind it yourself, but that’s not where we start…

Different flours

It may seem obvious to say, but different flours will provide different food for your colony and have their pros and cons;

  • Rye flour is dense, sweet, and full of fibre. It’s very strong tasting though, and can be challenging to bake with. Your starter will love it though! Great for feeding to a sluggish starter.
  • Einkorn flour is similar, in that it’s a dense fibre filled grain and is a heritage grain. This means its the same as it was hundreds of years ago and hasn’t been hybridised. Einkorn absorbs water differently to regular wheat so you need to watch that, and the price can be an excluding factor.
  • Whole wheat, or wholemeal in the UK, as it says on the tin, is the whole grain, so retains more of the benefits of the outer husk; nutrients, fibre etc. It may need more water than a white flour and the starter will mature more quickly. Great, as with the rye, to feed a occasionally to pep up a sluggish starter.
  • White bread flour contains more gluten than regular plain flour and can add structure to your bake. While a lot of the nutrients are stripped with taking out of the husk, this creates the lightest bread when baked up.
  • Plain flour is perfectly functional but not ideal. The aim is to feed the bacterial and enzymes and plain white flour is akin to junk food; you survive on it, but not thrive long term

So now we’ve gone through the types of flour, I’m ready to give you my tried and tested opinion.. 😀

So what is the BEST flour for a sourdough starter?

I use organic stoneground white bread flour for my starter, because that’s what I use to bake with. That’s it.

I’m all about making sourdough easy.

I occasionally feed some wholemeal if it needs a refresh, but because my bread flour is always out on the side, it’s in easy reach, so I’m more likely to feed it after I’ve used it!

There’s no point in having a million flours or spending extra money on speciality flours just for a starter.

Use what you have. Only have access to white flour? Great!! Make a starter and feed it that!

Grab a wholemeal and feed it once a month, or borrow a cup!

Don’t like Rye flour at all? No problem, don’t use it!

In essence, the best flour for a sourdough starter is the flour you have regular access to. Yes, organic is preferable, yes the higher fibre will boost the activity, but the main thing is to feed and use your starter.  Don't let the type of flour you have stop you from making this incredible ingredient for your baking.

Other posts you may like:

How do I feed a Sourdough Starter?

How to Fix a Runny Sourdough Starter

What is Sourdough – Sourdough: The Basics

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