Some Facebook friends wanted instructions on how to make a rye sourdough, so what better use of a blog than this?

Anyone who seriously does want to make sourdough rye bread, here’s what you’ll need before we get started:

  • A bag of wholemeal rye flour (Dove or Waitrose)
  • A bottle of spring water (or use filtered water. We just don’t want chlorine as it will inhibit culture. Leaving a jug of water to breath for several hours will allow the chlorine to disappear) 
  • A smallish, airtight plastic container, about 1pint in capacity 
  • Good digital scales
  • Fine sea salt
  • A 1 pound/500g loaf tin 
  • A plastic bowl scraper also very handy.


First step is to start your sourdough leaven, so don’t expect to bake any bread until five days from the outset. Once your leaven is alive, you’re up and running and you can bake a loaf in the course of one day, easily, most of that time spent waiting for nature to do its thing.

To make your leaven, here’s the timetable we used when I went on Andrew Whitley’s course in Scotland. Temperature is important in that it affects the fermentation time, but it’s not crucial. Cold mixes will take longer to ferment. Ideally the water should be around 35C. Lukewarm is good. Not hot!

Day 1: in your airtight container, thoroughly mix together 25g rye flour and 50g water. Leave in a warm place (airing cupboard is good) with the lid on. 28C is ideal.

Day 2: mix in another 25g flour and 50g water, warm as before

Day 3: same again. By now you should have gas bubbles appearing in the sludge.

Day 4: this time add 50g flour and 50g water.

By Day 5, there should be bubbles and a zesty, sour smell. This is your leaven and it will keep for weeks and weeks in the fridge. It can even be frozen.

Next blog in a week’s time.

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