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A Comparison of Sourdough Starters

Cultures for Health has collected sourdough starters from all over the world. While only the San Francisco starter has a bacterial strain that has been specifically identified and named as being unique to its region, each of our sourdough starters has a particular characteristic that sets it apart from the rest.

Sourdough Starter Characteristics

Below are three common characteristics that distinguish each sourdough starter.


#1-Type of Flour

Scoop of flour Each sourdough starter is grown on a specific type of flour and should be activated and fed using that same flour. It is possible to convert a portion of sourdough starter to another type of flour. Learn more in our article, How to Switch Your Sourdough to a New Type of Flour.

A sourdough starter that is made and fed with one type of flour can be used for baking with other flours or combinations of flour. For example, feed a spelt starter with spelt flour, but use white flour or a combination of white and spelt as the flour ingredient in your recipe, if desired.



Jar of sourdough starter  

The level of sourness in a sourdough starter can be manipulated to some degree. While a few starters are known for their particular tang, others can be sour or mild, depending on the starter’s hydration level, the flour used, and the proofing time.

Learn more about manipulating the sourness of your sourdough



#3-Proofing Time


Some starters are naturally quick proofers, which can be handy for those with a busy schedule. However, there are benefits to a longer proofing time, as well.

Learn more about short versus long fermentation in sourdough baking and the benefits of each.


A Comparison of Sourdough Starters

Sourdough Starter


Sourdough Starter Characteristics

White Flour Sourdough Starters



Tends to proof more quickly than other white-flour starters. Perfect for people who want to move through the breadmaking process quickly.


Camaldoli, Italy

Can be fast in warm conditions. Very robust starter, proofs in 3 to 8 hours depending on ambient temperature. Fairly mild; adapts well for non-bread recipes (pizza crust, muffins, etc.)


Italy (island of Ischia)

Tends to be more sour than many other varieties if the flavor is allowed to develop fully with a longer proof period.

New England

New England

Rises fairly quickly. An excellent basic sourdough starter; makes a good all-purpose bread. Originating in the 1800s.


near Paris, France

A mild, reliable starter suitable for a variety of artisanal breads.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Tangy flavor. This classic culture is famous for producing a rich, sour flavor.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter



Traditional whole-wheat starter; can develop a tangy flavor when proofed for 18 to 24 hours.

Rye Sourdough Starter

New Zealand

New Zealand

The fastest proofing among the rye starters; generally proofs in 3 to 5 hours.

Spelt Sourdough Starter


New England

An excellent choice for people who bake primarily with spelt flour.

Gluten-free Sourdough Starter

Brown Rice

New England

Very fast, needs frequent feeding. Can be used to create gluten-free baked goods.


Jar of sourdough starter with paper lid

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