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 common characteristics that distinguish each sourdough starter and may impact which starter you choose.

SOURDOUGH STARTER CHARACTERISTICS

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: 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: 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: Short versus Long Fermentation in Sourdough Baking

A COMPARISON OF SOURDOUGH STARTERS

 

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.

Video Transcript

Why Purchase a Starter

Lots of people ask about our sourdough starters, but first let's talk about why you would want to purchase a sourdough starter to get started making sourdough bread and other baked goods at home.

Sometimes people will take flour and water and they'll use that to capture wild yeast an bacteria in the air to make their own sourdough starter from scratch.

That can be a really great option, but let's face it:

Not all of us are blessed to live in a place with delicious tasting yeast and bacteria in our air.

So a sourdough starter, like this, can really get that process going for you and get you a consistent taste profile. So, let's talk about the four sourdough starters that we carry.

Types of Starters

First we have our San Francisco Sourdough Starter. This is a very classic starter. You'll generally wan to use it with white flour.

We also have a Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter. It is best used with whole grains so if you bake with whole grains regularly, this is a good option for you.

We also have a Rye Sourdough Starter if you're looking to make classic rye sourdough bread.

And then we have a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter. We do use an independent lab to test our Gluten-Free Starter, we test down to less than 5 ppm so this is a great option if you're pursuing a gluten-free diet.

Best for Beginners

Now, if you're a beginning sourdough baker we generally recommend sticking with either a San Francisco or Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter. They're just a little bit easier to work with. The Rye and the Gluten-Free Starters generally require just a tad more attention during baking, so keep that in mind.

More Than Just Bread

No matter what sourdough starter you choose, they can be used to make not only bread but other baked goods like muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies...the list goes on and on.

If you check out our website you'll find a lot of recipes, articles, and videos for using a sourdough starter because we're here to help you be successful and do this.

Happy Baking!