Can you use spelt flour for sourdough starter? Yes! This easy spelt flour sourdough starter recipe requires only two simple ingredients. You’ll love using this spelt sourdough starter to make crusty loaves of fermented bread. Get the scoop on the best whole grain spelt flour for spelt bread, where to buy spelt sourdough bread, and more. This recipe is naturally plant-based and vegan.
Did you know that you can use spelt flour to feed sourdough starter? With this easy recipe, you can make the best fermented sourdough bread ever.
Seriously, what beats a fresh loaf of homemade bread? With that lovely tangy sourdough flavor, it's definitely one of my favorite things.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let’s begin at the beginning.
- 🥖 What is spelt flour sourdough?
- 🍞 Spelt Sourdough Bread Brands
- ⭐ Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter Benefits
- 🥘 Spelt Flour Sourdough Ingredients
- 🔪 How to Make Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter
- 💡 Sourdough Spelt Flour Starter Tips
- 🌡️ How do you know if your sourdough starter has gone bad?
- 📋 Sourdough Bread Calories
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🍳 How to Use Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter Discard
- 👩🏻🍳 More Spelt Flour Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
🥖 What is spelt flour sourdough?
Sourdough is the oldest form of leavened bread. It can rise because it is made with a starter containing wild yeasts from both the flour and the air.
The prolonged fermentation process to make sourdough increases the risk of potential contamination compared to making a quick bread or a bread with instant yeast. Though there is a higher risk for failed batches, I feel that making the effort is worth it in terms of flavor.
The bread I make, with local wild yeasts, will not taste exactly like a sourdough spelt loaf made in another region. Making your own sourdough starter provides you with a local product that is unavailable elsewhere. It’s a truly delicious, artisanal, local food!
It takes about a week, starting with flour, to make spelt flour sourdough starter. This time cannot be shortened since the sourdough starter needs several days to become active. Traditionally made sourdough is a whole food (if made with whole grains)!
🍞 Spelt Sourdough Bread Brands
Not all spelt bread is sourdough! For example, Rudi’s Organic Spelt Bread is not a sourdough product. Here are some sourdough spelt bread brands to buy:
- Berlin Bakery Old Fashioned Spelt Sourdough Bread
- Organic Bread of Heaven Sprouted Spelt Sourdough Bread
⭐ Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter Benefits
What are the benefits of making spelt flour sourdough starter? Here are a few reasons to love this recipe:
- Saves money: Buying a premade sourdough starter almost always costs more than making starter from scratch. The only cost of making sourdough starter is the cost of the flour and a little time.
- Fiber: Spelt flour is healthier than all-purpose flour because whole spelt flour is a whole grain that provides fiber. Most white flour is enriched, so you get many of the B vitamins and iron found in whole grain flour. However, the fiber is not replaced.
- No added sugar: You don’t need honey or white sugar to feed the starter, the fresh flour is the food for the wild yeast
- Simple ingredients: Most breads in the bread aisle count as ultra-processed foods, something many of us should try to limit. With some sourdough spelt starter on hand, you can whip up some fresh bread that is minimally processed.
- Delicious: Homemade spelt sourdough bread has a tangy flavor that many find tasty. Even super picky eaters usually can't resist delicious bread.
🥘 Spelt Flour Sourdough Ingredients
You only need two ingredients to make your own spelt flour sourdough starter. Here they are:
- Whole grain spelt flour
- Lukewarm water
Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of flours to make sourdough starter. My favorite is OneDegree Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour. Bob’s Red Mill Spelt Flour is another great option, and can often be purchased inexpensively at Ocean State Job Lot.
A lot of flour is used and often discarded in the process of making a starter. Thus, you may want to choose an inexpensive flour. However, consider giving organic flour a try if other types of flour have failed you in the past. It worked for me!
Some say you should use filtered water for sourdough. I used our well water, straight from the tap for this recipe. If you happen to have a water filtration system, I see no reason not to use filtered water here.
What flours are best for sourdough?
I recommend starting with an unbleached, whole grain, gluten-containing flour to make your starter, though other flours may work. I think it’s interesting that I've had the most success making starters with organic flour. I’ve heard it speculated that it might be easier to “catch” the wild yeasts needed for a bubbly starter when you begin with organic flour.
Rye flour or whole wheat flour are good replacements for whole spelt flour. You can even mix flours in your sourdough starter.
How does spelt flour affect sourdough?
My main reason for using spelt for sourdough is that I think it is the most delicious flour for sourdough! Whole wheat flour tends to be the least expensive whole grain flour option. Rye also produces a robust sourdough starter.
Will bleached flour kill my sourdough starter?
All-purpose bleached flour will not necessarily kill your sourdough starter. However, I recommend you use unbleached flour to help promote an active starter in the beginning. As your starter gets more mature and vigorous, you’re welcome to experiment with using white flour in the feedings.
🔪 How to Make Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter
Let’s talk about how to ferment spelt flour! Make sure to begin with clean hands, clean work surfaces and clean food containers. This is the best way to help prevent unwanted microbes from contaminating your starter.
Day 1: Combine ½ cup of spelt flour with ¼ cup of lukewarm water in a bowl that you won’t need for a few days. Cover the container with a paper towel, parchment paper, or a clean dish towel and leave it at room temperature (70F/21C) for 24 hours. Don't use an airtight lid on the container.
Day 2: The next day, measure out ¼ cup of starter and discard the rest. Mix the reserved starter with ½ cup spelt flour and ¼ cup lukewarm water. Cover the bowl again with a towel and let it rest at approximately 70F (21C) for another 24 hours.
Days 3-5: The spelt starter should be bubbly and have that characteristic sourdough smell. Starting on day 3, feed the starter twice per day (12 hours apart), once in the morning and once at night.
For each feeding, mix ¼ cup of the starter with ½ cup of spelt flour and ¼ cup of lukewarm water. Then you should cover the bowl loosely and let it rest at 70F (21C) until the next feeding.
Day 6: The starter should be nice and bubbly, have doubled in volume, and smell like sourdough. If it is not as active as described, continue feeding it for another couple of days before continuing on. When the starter looks and smells like it is ready, you can use it in bread recipes!
Sourdough Spelt Starter Storage
Keep sourdough flour spelt starter in the fridge in a loosely lidded mason jar between feedings. At least once per week, remove your starter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Remove ¼ cup of starter and discard the rest. Mix this reserved starter in a bowl with ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water. Let it sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours until it gets nice and bubbly, and then pop it back in the fridge. Don't cover the canning jar or crock tightly.
To make bread from refrigerated starter, remove the starter from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Measure out ¼ cup of starter. Feed the starter it with ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water and then let it rest at room temperature (70F/21C).
Continue feeding it every 12 hours until you are ready to use the starter in your recipe. You should have fed the starter at least 3 times before you use it. This gives your starter plenty of time to become bubbly and active, so your bread will rise well.
If you need a large amount of starter in your recipe, don’t discard starter for the last few feedings.
💡 Sourdough Spelt Flour Starter Tips
- New starters tend to have a slightly funkier smell compared to mature starters. It doesn’t automatically mean the starter is bad.
- If a hardened skin of flour forms on the starter, stir in back in.
- Some liquid separation is also normal, and can be stirred back in.
The liquid that can form on top of a starter is called “hooch,” and it doesn’t mean the starter went bad. This liquid, the alcohol given off during fermentation, often forms when the starter needs to be fed.
Sourdough Spelt Bread from Starter Tips
If you put a bit of sourdough starter in water and it sinks, it means it isn’t ripe and ready for bread baking. This is called the float test. However, sometimes growing (not fully fed) starter floats, so the float test isn’t always an accurate way to determine if the starter is ready.
Adding white flour to your spelt sourdough bread recipe will make sourdough bread that is less dense. However, you can make 100 percent spelt bread if you’d prefer.
To make sourdough bread with large holes, you should start with a very moist dough. Wet bread doughs will generally result in loaves with large, airy holes. Sometimes the dough for these breads is so wet it must be kneaded with a mixer rather than by hand!
Why is my spelt sourdough starter not rising?
Why is my sourdough starter not bubbling? There are many reasons your sourdough starter may not be active. First, make sure you’re using the right flour, preferably an unbleached whole grain flour.
When you do the feedings, don’t forget to discard starter. That way, the small amount of starter that is left will have plenty of fresh flour to feed on.
Strengthen your sourdough starter with regular feedings. However, don’t feed sourdough starter too frequently. Doing so dilutes the yeast, leaving you with a mixture of plain flour and water.
Finally, have your starter on a consistent feeding schedule in a warm (not hot) area for ripening (68-70F/20-21C).
🌡️ How do you know if your sourdough starter has gone bad?
Sourdough starter can go bad. If your starter has developed mold or an off odor, discard the starter and start over.
Another indication that your starter went bad is the presence of an orange or pink streak. This can indicate that bad bacteria have contaminated the starter.
Well-cared for sourdough starter can keep indefinitely if stored in the fridge between regular feedings. Starters often get better with age if cared for properly. The famous San Francisco sourdough bread from Boudin Bakery is made from a starter (“mother dough”) that is over 150 years old!
📋 Sourdough Bread Calories
How many calories in sourdough bread? Here are the spelt sourdough bread nutrition facts for a variety of brands. These are the calories in a small slice of sourdough bread (one serving):
|Brand||Calories||Net Carbs (g)||Protein (g)|
|Berlin Natural Bakery Spelt Sourdough||110||19||4|
|Organic Bread of Heaven Sprouted Spelt Sourdough Bread||100||18||3|
|Homemade Spelt Flour Sourdough Bread (just flour and water)||100||18||4|
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Many find bread and other baked goods made with flour to be extremely easy to overeat. Thus, I’m placing this spelt sourdough starter recipe at level 3.
Making sourdough bread may not be the best option for some people. This includes those who are trying to follow a low-carb diet and those who have identified bread as a personal trigger food. (A trigger food is a food that someone has a great deal of trouble *not* overeating.)
I am not saying that everyone who wishes to lose weight must skip bread. However, it is important to be especially mindful of the portion size with bread.
One-fourth cup of flour, about the amount in one thin bread slice, provides 100-110 calories. Whole grain breads are not lower calorie options (unless they are special high fiber “diet” breads).
I know I’m not alone in being able to eat 3-4 (or more!) delicious slices of homemade bread in a sitting. If you’ll be using your spelt sourdough starter to make bread weekly, you can freeze extra, or share it.
Friends and neighbors may appreciate a warm loaf of your homemade sourdough bread. It makes a fantastic gift!
You can buy sourdough spelt bread at many major grocery stores. Check Aldi, Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, or your local bakery if you can’t find it in mainstream supermarkets. Alternatively, you can find Berlin Natural Bakery Sourdough Spelt Bread on Amazon.
Spelt is an ancient grain in the wheat family that does contain gluten. Spelt sourdough bread is not appropriate for those with celiac disease. Some with minor (non-celiac) wheat sensitivities report that spelt bread doesn’t negatively impact them as wheat bread does.
Yes, according to Monash University, spelt sourdough bread is low in FODMAPs. Spelt is lower in fructans than modern wheat, and it is also lower in gluten. Additionally, the fermentation process in traditional sourdough bread making reduces the FODMAPs.
Fed mature sourdough starter smells like a delicious yeasty bread. Sometimes starter smells a bit funky when it first gets started. I’ve heard some say that young starter may smell more like alcohol or even have a bit of a sickly smell. If the smell is really unpleasant, the starter should be discarded.
Yes, homemade sourdough spelt bread made with whole grain spelt flour is nutritious, and a healthy choice for many. You’re getting an assortment of B vitamins (including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin), plus heart healthy fiber.
👩🍳 How to Use Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter Discard
There are so many wonderful ideas to use up sourdough bread starter discards. Don’t throw them out!
The King Arthur Baking website is one of my favorite resources for sourdough starter recipes. Here are a few ways to use sourdough discards that I love:
- Sourdough Waffles or Pancakes
- Sourdough Sandwich Biscuits
- No-knead Sourdough Pizza Base
- Sourdough Crackers (try them with rosemary or fennel seeds)
- One-Pot Sourdough Skillet
👩🏻🍳 More Spelt Flour Recipes
Looking for more recipes using spelt flour? Here are a few recipes for baking with spelt flour:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Spelt Flour Sourdough Starter Recipe for Bread
- spelt flour
- Day 1: Combine ½ cup of spelt flour with ¼ cup of lukewarm water in a bowl that you won’t need for a few days. Cover the container with a paper towel, parchment paper, or a clean dish towel and leave it at room temperature (70°F/21°C) for 24 hours. Don't use an airtight lid on the container.
- Day 2: The next day, measure out ¼ cup of starter and discard the rest. Mix the reserved starter with ½ cup spelt flour and ¼ cup lukewarm water. Cover the bowl again with a towel and let it rest at approximately 70°F (21°C) for another 24 hours.
- Days 3-5: The spelt starter should be bubbly and have that characteristic sourdough smell. Starting on day 3, feed the starter twice per day (12 hours apart), once in the morning and once at night. For each feeding, mix ¼ cup of the starter with ½ cup of spelt flour and ¼ cup of lukewarm water. Then you should cover the bowl loosely and let it rest at 70°F (21°C) until the next feeding.
- Day 6: The starter should be bubbly and smell like sourdough. If it is not as active as described, continue feeding it for another couple of days before continuing on. When the starter looks and smells like it is ready, you can use it in bread recipes!
- Sourdough Starter Storage: Keep sourdough flour spelt starter in the fridge in a loosely lidded mason jar between feedings. At least once per week, remove your starter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Remove ¼ cup of starter and discard the rest. Mix this reserved starter in a bowl with ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water. Let it sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours until it gets nice and bubbly, and then pop it back in the fridge. Don't cover the canning jar or crock tightly.
- To Make Bread from Refrigerated Starter: Remove the starter from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Measure out ¼ cup of starter. Feed the starter it with ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water and then let it rest at room temperature (70°F/21°C). Continue feeding it every 12 hours until you are ready to use the starter in your recipe. You should have fed the starter at least 3 times before you use it. This gives your starter plenty of time to become bubbly and active, so your bread will rise well. If you need a large amount of starter in your recipe, don’t discard starter for the last few feedings.
- Hot tip! Get sourdough starter discard ideas, a link to a sourdough bread recipe, and additional tips for caring for your starter in the article above.