Instructions

  1. For the first feeding: Combine the 1/4 cup starter with 1/4 cup room-temperature water and a heaping 1/2 cup pumpernickel flour (organic preferred).
  2. Place the starter in a nonreactive container. Sprinkle a light coating of pumpernickel flour over the top of the starter and cover it.
  3. Allow the starter to rise for 12 hours at room temperature (70°F).
  4. For the second feeding: Keep 1/4 cup of your initial starter, the one you made 12 hours earlier; discard or give away the rest. Feed the 1/4 cup starter with 1/4 cup room-temperature water and a heaping 1/2 cup pumpernickel flour.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the starter with pumpernickel flour and cover it. Allow the starter to rise for 12 hours at room temperature.
  6. Repeat feedings as above until the starter is rising well and has a pleasantly tangy odor. The more feedings you give it the better, as it takes a few days for the starter to completely establish itself as a rye starter.
  7. Once the starter is rising well, you can refrigerate it for up to a week before feeding it again. Feed your starter as above and allow it to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours before returning to the fridge.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You can substitute medium rye flour for pumpernickel, but pumpernickel flour is preferable. The starter will likely ferment more quickly with medium rye flour because it'll be wetter.
  • If you've made Jewish Rye Bread you can use the remaining rounded tablespoon of rye sour in place of the 1/4 cup of unfed sourdough starter in the first feeding, then proceed as above.
  • If your rye starter has been stored in the refrigerator, be sure to give it two or three feedings at room temperature (morning and evening) before you plan to use it in a recipe. This will revive it and help achieve optimum rise and flavor in your bread.
  • Add your rye starter to a recipe after it's been fed and isn't quite doubled in size. It will be domed on top, with islands of rye flour surrounded by cracks and crevices. This will likely take about 8 hours at 70°F, but everyone's starter will be a little different.