by Matthew Roberts on 6th Feb. 2012
Following the Cultured Cooking event in Cupar, Kerstin wrote to ask:
I could not get hold of rye flour yesterday in Cupar so started off with spelt - it might be a couple of weeks. Will there be a problem "converting" the starter later on? Is it still ok to use strong flour in the actual bread as that's what I have? And spelt.
The yeasts and lacto-bacillae will consume any fermentable material you give them, so in terms of keeping the culture alive, there is no problem in feeding it with different kinds of flour. In my experience, softer flours (with less protein, and hence more carbohydrate) tend to ferment a little bit quicker than strong ones, and whole grain flours ferment a whole lot faster than white flours. Beyond that, yes, different flours do bring different characteristics both in terms of their own flavour and the kinds of fermentation they seem to promote. To some extent, all starters have something of their history in their characteristics (like all of us, I guess) - so a starter that has been 'converted' to spelt and back to rye might be a litle different from one which was rye all along, but they are all good for making good bread.