Developing a Sourdough Rye Culture

Ingredients

Day One. Initial Mix

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Whole-Rye Flour 1 lb 450 g 6.4 oz ( cups) 100 %
Water 1 lb 450 g 6.4 oz (¾ cup) 100 %
Total 2 lb 900 g 12.8 oz

Day Two. One Feeding

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Initial Mix .5 lb 225 g 3.2 oz (one-quarter of above) 100 %
Whole-Rye Flour .5 lb 225 g 3.2 oz ( cup) 100 %
Water .5 lb 225 g 3.2 oz ( cup) 100 %
Total 1.5 lb 675 g 9.6 oz

Days Three, Four, Five, and Six. Two Feedings

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Initial Mix .5 lb 225 g 3.2 oz (one-third of above) 100 %
Whole-Rye Flour .5 lb 225 g 3.2 oz ( cup) 100 %
Water .5 lb 225 g 3.2 oz ( cup) 100 %
Total 1.5 lb 675 g 9.6 oz

Method

Day One. Initial Mix

Mix the Ingredients to a Smooth Paste, cover with plastic, and let stand in a warm area (75° to 80°F) for 24 hours. Whole rye, preferably organic, is preferred when developing a rye culture, due to its full spectrum of nutrients, which will encourage a population of healthy and content microorganisms. If medium rye is used, the hydration can be reduced to approximately 90 percent. Avoid using white rye flour, as it is essentially devoid of beneficial nutrients.

Day Two. One Feeding

Mix the Ingredients to a Smooth Paste, cover with plastic, and let stand in a warm area (75° to 80°F) for 24 hours.

Days Three, Four, Five, and Six. Two Feedings

Mix the Ingredients to a Smooth Paste, cover with plastic, and let stand in a warm area (75° to 80°F). Feedings should be roughly 12 hours apart. On day seven, the culture can be used to make bread. It will have more vigor and flavor, however, if the feeding schedule is followed for 2 or 3 more days. A common practice among German bakers is to sprinkle the surface of the sourdough with rye flour when the culture has been refreshed. This provides a bit of a food source for the microorganisms within, and also acts as an environmental buffer, helping to prevent the culture from drying. When the sourdough has ripened and risen, the flour will look like islands on the surface.

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