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The biggest issue with make good rye bread is to make the starter since it needs to rise in a very controlled temperature for some time. What are good and reliable ways to achieve this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've received some portions from friends and family, which have always worked well. :-)

When I'm creating it from scratch, I mix 200g of rye flour, a little bit of yeast (which you can leave out), 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of honey, 1 dl of organic yogurt and 2 dl of water. I leave this mixture out on the kitchen table (at around 20C) for a day with a piece of wet cloth on top. After that I add 2 dl of rye flour and enough water to make the dough soft. This sits on the kitchen table for yet another day, after which is should look like a pool of lava and smell a bit acidic.

The honey and the yogurt is the magic touch that makes this starter work, according to my books and research. I've never done anything special to control the temperature or anything else.

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Thanks, I will try this. How much can the temperature fluctuate? How close to 20C does it need to be? –  txwikinger Jul 10 '10 at 14:55
    
As I said, I haven't ever controlled the temperature, but within a few degress should be ok. I think that the higher temperature would cause the starter to rise faster. –  jmoeller Jul 10 '10 at 15:29
    
As a side-note, I've kept starters alive in the fridge for up to a month by adding extra rye flour, yogurt and a touch of honey 1-2 times a week. –  jmoeller Jul 12 '10 at 20:20
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I've had good results with the procedure from 'Secrets of a Jewish Baker' (page 163). I don't think it's appropriate to type in copyrighted recipes here, so I'll leave you with the reference.

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I do not believe that recipes are copyrightable in the US: meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/42/… –  Dinah Jul 10 '10 at 14:08
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  1. Get some organic grapes with a white cover (natural yeasts) on them
  2. Wash gently
  3. Wrap in a cheese cloth
  4. Get 1 cup of lukewarm water in a glass jar. 1 tbsp of sugar in it won't hurt
  5. Squeeze grapes in a cheese cloth into the mixture and leave cheese cloth in mixture as well
  6. Stir in 1 cup of not-so-fancy wheat flour
  7. Cover jar either with cheese cloth or paper towel and a rubber band
  8. Let it sit on top of the fridge for 5 days or so shaking occasinally
  9. Discard first batch, i.e. start the new one with some stuff left on the walls of the jar

I usually maintain 1 cup of flour vs 1/2 cup of water.

As a side effect, you first few batches will have a nice light hint of grape flavor :-) The key is not to add regular yeasts in it unless you want to grow that strain.

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