You just heard about einkorn — the 5,000 year old variety of wheat that’s healthier than modern wheat — and you have a thriving sourdough starter.
Is it possible to transition your current sourdough starter to einkorn?
Yes, absolutely! Here’s how…
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The Question: How To Transition A Sourdough Starter To Einkorn?
Mary D. asks:
Hi! I’ve already got a sourdough starter (been feeding it with whole wheat flour), and I recently learned about einkorn. Is it possible to transition my whole wheat starter to einkorn? If so, how? Thanks so much!
First, let’s talk about the unique qualities of an einkorn sourdough starter.
If you have experience with sourdough, it may have been with a wheat or rye starter. The care and feeding (and even starting) of these starters is similar to an einkorn sourdough starter.
Their behavior, however, is different. It comes down to 3 things.
First, since einkorn absorbs less water, the starter tends to be runnier. You can easily adjust for this by adding a bit more flour or a bit less water at each feeding. Which, by the way, is a good idea. Because a starter on the thicker side works better in Traditional Cooking School’s recipes.
Second, while a whole wheat or rye starter will often double or triple in size at its peak (the height of activity), einkorn simply does not. So don’t rely on height for signs that it’s doing well. Instead, use the other signs of an active starter to gauge your starter’s health — that it’s bubbly, domes slightly, produces hooch (yellow liquid), and smells fresh and sour.
Finally, an einkorn starter is a bit stringy. Nothing wrong with this; it’s just the way it is. 😉
What is Einkorn, Anyway?
Einkorn is a 5,000 year old variety of wheat that many find easier to digest than modern wheat (it has gentler gluten and less and gentler starch). Yet it’s a bit tricky to figure out how to use because it behaves differently. You can skip the learning curve by using my free & AMAZING no-knead einkorn bread recipe!
The recipe is FREE, easy, and healthy, and takes only 15 minutes of hands-on time!
Click here for the free recipe: No-Knead Sourdough Einkorn Bread.
And soon your family will be saying: “This is the best bread EVER!”
Here’s why you should embrace sourdough in your traditional kitchen (provided you can eat grains and gluten).
It’s the most nutritious. If done right*, sourdough is the most effective grain preparation, surpassing the effectiveness of soaking or sprouting. The wild yeasts and bacteria in the starter pre-digest gluten, consume grain sugar and neutralize anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Einkorn is already easier to digest and has less phytic acid than newer grains, so if you combine this ancient grain with the power of sourdough, you end up with marvelously digestible and nutritious baked goods!
*What do I mean by “if done right”?
There’s a difference between modern sourdough recipes you might find on the Internet and true, traditional sourdough. A truly nutritious sourdough recipe, like any of ours, will include 3 important things:
- At the beginning of the recipe, all the flour is combined with the starter for the entirety of the souring time, except perhaps for a bit of flour used for rolling or handling later on.
- The souring time will be done in a warm location, which is essential for the sourdough starter to do its important work.
- And, the souring duration will be long enough, usually 5 to 24 hours, depending on temperature (the warmer the location, the faster the souring time can be).
The power of natural leavening. It’s amazing really — the wild yeasts in your sourdough starter are powerful. They produce gases as they eat the starch in einkorn, and this actually rises your dough. No need to purchase store-bought yeast because your sourdough starter does the job. It’s beautiful to watch and simply like taking part in a miracle — miracles which could happen daily in your kitchen!
The taste. Myself, I love a good tang, and sourdough delivers. Sourdough doesn’t have to be overly sour, however. If your family doesn’t care for sour, add a bit of baking soda to the batter or dough right before baking. Baking soda reacts with the acid of the sourdough to “sweeten” the dough. This and other tips for reducing the sour can be found in this blog post — 6 Tips to Prevent “Sour” Sourdough. Not to scare you, though, because most sourdough recipes are not overly sour anyway!
The Einkorn Sourdough Starter
In order to use sourdough in your kitchen, you need a sourdough starter. This is a batter-like mixture of flour and water that you feed and care for regularly in order to cultivate an active colony of wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria right inside it (it’s microscopic).
You use some of the sourdough starter in your baking (by combining it with flour and other ingredients), always making sure to reserve a portion of it that you keep going through regular feedings of more flour and water.
Sound intimidating? It’s not! Soon, your starter becomes like a cherished member of your family. Often people name their starters! I never have, but maybe I should. 😉
When you’re ready to maintain an einkorn sourdough starter, you’ve got 2 options. You can either transition another sourdough starter over to einkorn flour, or you can start a fresh einkorn starter.
On today’s #AskWardee, I’m telling you about the first option. Click here to see how to start an einkorn sourdough starter from scratch.
How To Transition A Sourdough Starter To Einkorn
Instead of feeding your existing sourdough starter with whole wheat, rye or spelt (or other grain), simply switch to feeding it with einkorn. You will need to use more flour than before (or less water) to keep it the same thickness, and you may also need to give it a few days to transition and adjust to the new food source.
Expecting more? Thought it would be harder?
Sorry to disappoint — it’s really that simple. 🙂
Then when you’re satisfied it’s behaving well — it’s bubbly, domes slightly, produces hooch (yellow liquid), and smells fresh and sour — use it in recipes!
Recipes such as in our Einkorn Baking eBook & Video Package. Or in the Einkorn Baking eCourse that comes with your membership to Traditional Cooking School.
Also, try some of our favorite einkorn recipes like Einkorn Sourdough Bagels, Sourdough Einkorn Cinnamon Rolls, and Sourdough Einkorn Grilled Pizza Crust!
Or, click here for a free recipe: No-Knead Sourdough Einkorn Bread.
- FREE recipe: No-Knead Sourdough Einkorn Bread
- Einkorn Baking eBook & Video Package
- Einkorn Baking eCourse (included with your membership in Traditional Cooking School)
- 6 Tips to Prevent “Sour” Sourdough
- Einkorn 101
- Where to buy einkorn
- How to start an einkorn sourdough starter from scratch
More Sourdough Posts from the #AskWardee Show:
- Does Sourdough Bread Get Moldy? +Troubleshooting Dense Sourdough Bread #AskWardee 110
- 11 Tips For Lighter, Less Dense Sourdough Bread #AskWardee 053
- When Is A Sourdough Starter Ready For Baking? #AskWardee 145
- The Best & Healthiest Flours For Sourdough #AskWardee 065
- Sourdough Troubleshooting: How To Know When Your Starter Is Strong Enough For Bread-Baking
- Sourdough Tips, Troubleshooting & Frequently Asked Questions (KYF092, 167)
- Feeding Your Sourdough Starter… More Than Just Flour! #AskWardee 150
- Is Aged Flour *Really* Better For Sourdough? #AskWardee 122
- Can I Use Reverse Osmosis Water For Fermenting, Culturing, & Sourdough? #AskWardee 138
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee Show is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about Traditional Cooking: whether it’s your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking or your GNOWFGLINS lifestyle.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
Where: @TradCookSchool on Periscope or Traditional Cooking School on Facebook
What If You Can’t Make It?
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- Come back here to AskWardee.TV; all replays will be up within hours of airing live; the print notes are always posted at the same time I go live.
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Have you transitioned a sourdough starter to einkorn? How did it go? How does it perform?
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Mama Rose says
Oh My GOODNESS!!!
I wish I had known these things about einkorn sourdough starter when I tried to make sourdough starter. I knew that einkorn was the best so I started with that.
I was so excited to be making my own crackers and bread for my home and was devastated when my starter NEVER doubled in size…not even close. I stopped feeding the starter and eventually through it away after several bags of flour were, seemingly wasted.
Knowing that I actually was doing it correctly is very reassuring. I might try again. Just with MORE flour than water and in a larger jar so that I can actually bake something without using the entire starter! I will search your past episodes for how to START with einkorn.
Wardee Harmon says
Mama Rose ~ Yay, I’m glad you found it helpful. Here are my instructions for starting from einkorn from scratch: https://traditionalcookingschool.com/2017/04/07/make-einkorn-sourdough-starter-free-video/.
frauke beacham says
I’ve started reading on your site, love it. I started an Einkorn starter and I can’t find any reading on how to finish it? I have had it for three days and I do exactly what it says…3/8 (6 TB) Einkorn flour and 1/4 cup water and I have been tossing half out now and doing all that but where can I find reading material on what I do after the 5 or so days? Should I refrigerate it then, etc. Please let me know.
Millie Copper says
After your starter is about 7 days old you can start using it for making things that don’t need much rise such as pancakes, waffles, crackers, etc.
Keep it at room temperature feeding two times per day until it is about 3 weeks old. Then you can make bread with it and store in the fridge when you are not using. Here’s a helpful article on caring for your starter: https://traditionalcookingschool.com/2016/11/30/sourdough-routine-with-einkorn-aw052/
~Millie, TCS Customer Success Team
So after the Einkorn starter is ready, can I use it exactly as I would my normal wheat starter? If I want to make pancakes with it, I would just follow my normal sourdough pancake recipe?
Wardee Harmon says
Anna ~ Yes, exactly!
Linda Woods says
Can I transition an all purpose wheat flour San Francisco starter to Einkorn, please?
Will it also take 3 weeks to be fully active for a rise?
Millie Copper says
You should be able to transition any wheat starter to einkorn. Just use the tips in the article above.
It will probably take several days to a week or so before your transitioning starter starts behaving as it should. You may be able to use it quicker than the 3 weeks a brand new starter takes. Watch it for activity and reaching the active state. The first few times you use it you may wish to make something like pancakes that doesn’t require as much leavening
~ Millie, TCS Customer Success Team.
Cathy B. says
I have a well-established all purpose flour sourdough starter. I recently purchased Einkorn flour and would like to start experimenting with it. How would it work if I used my all purpose flour sourdough starter in recipes calling for Einkorn flour and Einkorn sourdough starter?
Yes, using your current starter in replace of the einkorn starter will work just fine. 🙂 Let us know how it goes!
~Peggy, TCS Customer Success Team
I’ve started transitioning the sourdough starter I was given to Einkorn. Do you discard as you add the flour/water?
Yes, you discard with each feeding as normal. 🙂
~Danielle, TCS Customer Success Team
Hi there – I’m having fun experimenting with Einkorn sourdough bread. I’ve made one boule and I’m excited to make another one because my first one was pretty dense. It seems einkorn flour is getting harder and harder to find so I’m wondering if I can use my einkorn starter but then when my recipe calls for 5 cups of flour to create my loaf of bread can I use any flour I want? Thank you!
Sonya Hemmings says
Hi, Dianna: Yes, you can probably use your einkorn starter as a base and add another kind of flour when you’re ready to bake, but einkorn behaves differently than other flours, so your results might be a bit different, too. You can always transition an einkorn starter to another kind of flour — or start a new one with another kind of flour so that you have two to use, depending upon what flour you want to use and what you’re baking. 🙂 —Sonya, TCS Customer Success Team
Hi Wardee, I transitioned my sourdough starter to einkorn flour with your instructions and it was as easy as you said. This morning I made my first loaf of einkorn, no knead, bread and it was also very easy ( much less time than my regular sourdough recipe). It was hard to wait two hours for it to cool but I did and it was worth the wait. The bread is delicious. The only thing I did different was to use parchment paper instead of flour in my Dutch oven.
Thank you for your easy recipes. I look forward to trying more of them.