Frozen rye flour for sourdough starter?
Posted: 19 January 2011 09:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi, I just read the LA Times article (linked to on Rose’s blog) on ‘Old World Breads’ and saw a comment from a reader there that mentioned that rye flour that had been stored in the freezer would not work for sourdough. Any thoughts on this? I just started my first sourdough starter last night, using rye flour that I had stored in the freezer (I freeze or refrigerate all my whole grain flours because we heat with wood and the humidity and temperature of our house fluctuates a lot. That, and I run out of room other places). Is my starter doomed? Should I buy a new round of flour and start over?

Another tangentially related question: the only rye flour I can get at my local co-op is whole rye. How will this work for sourdough starter vs. medium rye? Will I have to add more liquid (since the whole grain will absorb more)?

Any thoughts appreciated. Of course I am totally nervous about my sourdough’s well being already and it isn’t even started yet!

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Posted: 20 January 2011 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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vthomekitchen - 20 January 2011 01:10 AM

Any thoughts appreciated. Of course I am totally nervous about my sourdough’s well being already and it isn’t even started yet!

Wild yeasts are supposedly more temperature sensitive than the stuff we buy in jars.  Since the reason for using the rye is to get the wild yeasts that the flour contains, if they truly are more cold sensitive, then the yeasts might be dead. 

Wild yeasts do exist in regular flour and some may drift in from the air, so using rye with dead yeasts isn’t a show stopper, but the rye won’t help.  If I were you, I’d use the grape starter method and not worry about the rye.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks, I do suspect that my starter is a non-starter. I may give it a little more time before trying again with some new rye…. if that doesn’t work, I’ll give the grape method a try. The only grapes available around here in winter are imported from South America and as we avoid non-local produce I usually don’t buy them on principle. But my desire for sourdough rye will probably outweigh principle cheese

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Posted: 20 January 2011 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Short periods in the freezer would not harm yeast. Wild or domestic. By short I mean less than 6 months.
Whole rye is actually preferred because the whole grain includes the husk and the wild bacteria you are trying to culture are mainly to be found on the husk. The absolute amount of water is not that important. You want it liquid enough that the starter doesn’t bubble over but enough flour that the yeast have food.

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Posted: 21 January 2011 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks for the input. I think the original was a bit too stiff…. But when I checked it on Day 3 (following the instructions from The Bread Bible) it definitely smelled interesting (a tad citrusy and overall nice and alive) so I decided to carry on.  For the second feeding I stuck to the whole rye (based on your comment, Gene, thanks!)—this time a new batch from the Co-op that had not been in the freezer. Used more water so it was more liquid this time and put it in a warm place. Lo and behold, I think it’s working! It expanded up to the 16 oz mark on my mason jar today. Tonight I fed it some bread flour (King Arthur ‘Special’) and poked some holes in the plastic in case it decides to overflow tomorrow. This is very exciting; I think I may have a live starter!!

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