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.


Below are three common characteristics that distinguish each sourdough starter.

#1 - Type 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.

#2 - Sourness

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.



Sourdough Starter Source Sourdough Starter Characteristics
White Flour Sourdough Starters
Alaskan Alaska Tends to proof more quickly than other white-flour starters. Perfect for people who want to move through the breadmaking process quickly.
Camaldoli 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.)
Ischia 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.
Parisian 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
Desem Belgium 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
Spelt 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.