100% Rye Starter Grey Layer

I’m trying to create a 100% rye flour starter from scratch using the instruction in this form. I’m using my oven with the light on to maintain a somewhat constant temperature. It’s been staying between 79 and 81 degrees. I completed day five feeding yesterday and was seeing just a bit of growth and bubbles in the starter. I had good growth early on in the process(day 2). This morning the starter showed little growth(a few bubbles here and there) and the top part has turned grey. Is this mold or just the starter telling me I need to feed it more? Any help would be appreciated.

From the sound of things the starter is going well. Bubbles are present and that is a good indication of fermentation. What does it smell like?

I’m having trouble viewing the photo attached. However I’d be more concerned if it was reddish or green. Having to take a total guess because I can’t see the photo I’m thinking it could be the top layer exposed to air. How are you covering it?

Can you try attaching a photo again?

If it smells fine, it has bubbles and its time for the next feed then skim the layer off and feed the healthier looking starter below.

Thanks for the reply Abe. I can’t seem to attach a photo no matter what I try. I assume I just don’t have the right path to the uploaded image. Any help on this would be appreciated.

The starter smelled fine. As for the grey portion. I perhaps should have done nothing before I posted something here as I assumed it was normal and stirred it in. Then did my morning feeding. It wasn’t until later this morning that I thought I better seek some advice after looking into it more. I assumed it was too early in the process for something to have gone wrong like mold. Perhaps I was wrong and need to start over again?

No problem. I’m no computer expert but I hope to be able to help you with your starter even if you can’t upload a photo. Hopefully someone with IT expertise can chime in and help you attach a photo.

Don’t panic. Can you give me a brief explanation of what you’ve done so far and how your starter has behaved?

P.s. the way how I attach photos is click on the box in the tool bar, when writing a comment, which looks like a photo. Second icon to the right of the speech marks. Then it’ll guide you to attach photos. Click on the choose file, find the photo and click on it then click upload. It’ll appear in the comment box.

I have been following the instruction here:

50g of old starter saved each day and 25g each of water and flour added. Cover with lid not tightly placed on and back into my oven with the light on. I’m on the fifth day of this process.

I recognise those instruction :slight_smile:

So its been fed everyday. Up until now its been bubbling up somewhat but its now gone a bit quiet with some greyish looking starter on top.

Well its been fed as before so can’t turn the clocks back. I’m still thinking it probably just because its more exposed to air. Keep at it and see how it is 24 hours after this feed. If it doesn’t come back then fine. If it has bubbles then feed again. If all has gone quiet then just stir.

The old adage “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like it duck… It probably is a duck”, applies to your starter. Going forward from this “mistake”… If it looks like a starter and behaves like a starter then it is a starter. A starter gone bad won’t behave like a starter. So if you see this through and come through the other side with a starter then not to worry. If all goes well expect the process to take at least 7 days before your starter matures.

Thanks again Abe. I’ll do that. I did have one question on “gone quiet”. If it’s producing a few bubbles visible on the sided but not on the top and not really rising is that what would be considered going quiet?

In the early stages you might very well see bubbles on the side but nothing breaking the top and little, if any, rise. Sometimes if you look beneath the surface you will notice a bit of a change within the starter. Should there be quite a few bubbles on the side and/or beneath the surface you do notice some change then by all means carry on with the same feed you’ve been doing. It is a small feed, will keep it happy without upsetting the PH balance. You won’t do any harm. If you see no change since the last feed then skip the next feed and just stir.

Great. Thanks again for your help.

Let us know how it goes. Expect it to take at least a week but you’re doing everything correct. Looking forward!

I finally got the picture into my original post. Apparently the simple drag and drop method works best. I was using the menu of tools for editing. Let me know what you think about the way this looks.

Thanks again!

That doesn’t look like mould to me. I stand by my original assumption. What I would do though is when feeding I’d wet a spoon under the cold tap, shake off excess water, and scrape down the sides so there’s no starter clinging. Make sure, as much as you can as it can be sticky but with a wet spoon it will be easier, that all the starter is packed together. How’s it looking this morning?

That’s similar to my all einkorn starter, that I made for this bread and wrote about here. The grey layer wasn’t a problem.

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Hi All,

Here is the starter today(day six). It seems to have a bit of the same dark layer on the top. However it’s not as pronounced as yesterday. It does still smell good as it did yesterday.


Since I’ve been using the oven with a light on and the door closed is this possibly an issue with not enough air getting to it? It’s getting a bit warmer here. Is a range of 65 to 72 degrees enough heat to continue my starter initial process without it taking forever? As it’s still not rising much at point and I’m assuming I need to keep up this daily process until it doubles when fed? Any other thoughts would be very welcome. I’m obviously quite new to this and could use all the help/advice I can get.

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Hey… that looks great. Early days yet but better, and further along, then I thought it was. Don’t worry about the grey. As @Fermentada pointed out with her experience it isn’t mould or harmful. Could be with further feedings and strengthening it might stop forming. See how it goes. I think you can try a 1:1:1 ratio at your next feed. See how it responds. So 24 hours after the previous feed go onto…

  • 34g starter
  • 33g water
  • 33g rye flour

Start saving the discard which can be backup or go into other recipes. Store it in a container in the fridge.

I’ll start using these new amounts tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know what happens. Thanks again for all the help!

I’m just wondering if 12 hours might be a better idea. It seems fairly active. If @Fermentada sees this and chimes in then a second opinion would be great. I’m inclined to say that if bubbles start to break the surface before bedtime then feed again. If not, then wait till the 24 hour mark. But a second opinion would be helpful.

P.s. where do you live just so I know the time difference. I live in London.

I’m on the west coast of the U.S. in the state of Oregon. I’m not really seeing bubbles break the surface at all. They seem to be stuck under the surface. Does this mean I should up the water by some small percentage? I assume that might help move things along as well.

So you’re 8 hours behind me which makes it 2pm? And you fed your starter breakfast time? How long is this after the feed?

Thanks for the reply. This is good news to say the least. I had a previous attempt at creating a starter fail already. Though that one failed because I didn’t ask enough questions or do enough research on the process and gave up to soon. With all the help here I think I’m on my way to actually getting things done right.