The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough starter smells like paint thinner

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idogis1's picture
idogis1

Sourdough starter smells like paint thinner

Well, it's day 6 of my first sourdough starter and this morning it smelled a bit like paint thinner. Actually is smelled like what they put in denatured alcohol to keep stupid kids and alcoholics from getting waisted on it; rather strongly in fact.


Should it do that?

Davo's picture
Davo

Try feeding it a bit more - either more often or more new food in proportion to what you have ehwn you feed. How much are you feeding in relation to what is there? Also what temp is it kept at?

Valentijn's picture
Valentijn

I have a 3 week old starter, it was fine for 2 weeks but then I put it in the fridge and when taking it out and feeding it it was smelling like paint thinner the next day.

Fed it about 4 times more than usual without taking anything out and it was smelling normal the next day (it was more active than usual it rose to a height I had not seen before, must have been very hungry and had a feeding frenzy)

----

working with a starter fresh from scratch, was active after 1 day, room temperature is here between 28-32 C (83-90 F) so I started with feeding it twice a day after the first day but with half portions

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:o

suave's picture
suave

Typically, paint thinner is neither :)

suave's picture
suave

It happens occasionally to new starters.  You need to keep feeding it, usually the smell goes away within 3-4 days.

bread10's picture
bread10

hi,


 


My dry Sourdough starter (which I bought) also smells very strongly of nail polish remover. It was going along fine but when I fed it, it began smelling very strongly!


I made my first batch of bread using (120g) almost half the 300g  starter then fed the starter with 120g Rye Flour and 40mls water (3 parts flour 1 part water - very dry!) and left it in the fridge. A week later I fed it again with 75g flour and 25ml Water. Now it smells and has been for the past few days.


What should I be doing to get it back to good health (and smell!) ?


 


Thanks Heaps!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You have to do a daily routine and stay out of the fridge for a few days.  Reduce the starter to 10g and increase the water to 40g and 40g rye flour.  Refresh after 12 hours using only 10g starter.  Discard the rest and change to a clean container with each refreshing.  In a few days it will be back to normal.  When it is back to normal smelling, then slowly decrease the water amounts (not all in one feeding) and then wait a few hours at warm room temperature before refrigerating.  That gives the beasties a chance to build and protect themselves while you store them.


Mini

bread10's picture
bread10

I left the starter out after feeding and now it dosen't smell bad anymore but it has white powder on the outside which could be some sort of mould???

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

mould if you are feeding it every 12 hours and cleaning the glass inbetween as well.  What is your routine?  The more detail the better so we can understand what is happening.


Mini

CeraMom's picture
CeraMom

You might try taking some pictures for us!

PetraR's picture
PetraR

My Sourdough Starter made with Bread Flour smells like Nailvarnish remover when it is really hungry, mine needs feeding every 12 hours.

My Rye Starter however is fine with 24 hour feedings.

 

Crepecrazy's picture
Crepecrazy

I realize this is an old thread, but a saw another comment that was pretty recent, so I'll take a chance.

I started my first sourdough starter just over 3 weeks ago using the sourdough starter tutorial from this site. About week 2 it had a lovely aroma and had begun to double in volume between feedings. I feed it every 12 hours and keep it in a cabinet. Living in Houston, it stays fairly warm. I only feed it organic AP flour in a 1:1:1 ratio. About 2 days into the second week, I was running low on my flour and when I went to the grocery store they were out of my preferred flour and I had to purchase the store brand organic AP flour. After it's second feeding with the new flour, it began to stink and no longer rises as much. The bubbling has significantly reduced and the consistency changed to be more of a sticky mess. After a few days, the smell became much worse.

I have stopped using the store brand flour hoping it is just the result of an inferior product and that the starter will revive with better quality nutrients. Has anyone ever noticed this? I'd hate to scrap it and start over; it was thriving so well. I've seen suggestions from acidifying it a little, feeding more, feeding less, to just starting over. I'd love any recommendations. :(

piano boy's picture
piano boy

I keep my starter in the fridge and use it once a week. The jar holds 450g and I use about half then feed with 225g of 1:1 ratio (for a 100% hydration mix). If I leave it for 3 or 4 weeks without using/feeding I get an acetone smell and a buildup of liquid on the surface. I believe it's a byproduct (along with CO2) of the yeast growth. The good thing is that in inhibits the yeast from reproducing and killing itself off. The bad is that you have to flush (dump half/feed/repeat) once or twice to balance the starter again.

So... If you're keeping it at room temperature I might recommend a replacing a higher ratio of starter every time you feed or keep it in a cooler place.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Why not keep just 30g of mother starter in the fridge instead?

The day before you bake take 20g of it for a preferment and refresh the remaining 10g with 10g flour+10g water bringing it back to 30g ready for next week.

For the preferment build it up in 2 feeds.

20+25+25 = 70g
70+80+80 = 230g

or similar numbers of your choosing.

No waste and if you do happen to leave your mother starter too long without feeding you can simply build it up from its 30g until it is well again, use the bulk for baking and leave 30g again for the fridge. No discard. :-)

piano boy's picture
piano boy

Then it would take 3 days to make a loaf of bread instead of two and I'm not that patient. I make a loaf every week with the exception of holidays so I'm only refreshing without using once or twice a year.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

It takes less than 1 min to add more flour and water to a preferment, hardly an overhead!

piano boy's picture
piano boy

Why don't I keep 10 grams of starter in the fridge instead of 30? Then I could spend 5 days making a loaf. What's your point? I posted in regards to the OP's problem with the acid buildup in his starter and my own experiences with it. You've ignored the topic and seem overly fascinated with correcting my bread making habits even though what I do works just fine for my needs.

Crepecrazy's picture
Crepecrazy

I plan to eventually keep it in the fridge, but I read on several pages to let it really get good and strong for a few weeks before doing so. Yesterday, I switched to a different brand of organic AP flour for both feedings, and I snuck in a few extra stirs every few hours in the evening before calling it a night. I flush about 226g with each feeding and keep 113g. This morning it had doubled in volume again, which it had not done in about a week. The acetone smell was still present, but less potent...it didn't singe the hair in my nose. :) It was also a lot more bubbly than it's been all week and the consistency was smooth, not gloopy like spackle. I think the moral of my lesson is that not all organic AP flours are created equal.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

The day before you bake take 20g of it for a preferment and refresh the remaining 10g with 10g flour+10g water bringing it back to 30g ready for next week.

I've been able to inoculate a starter this way in 6 hours, but I keep the temperature tightly regulated at 86F (30C).

In other words, I make a fresh flour and water slurry, add a couple TB of mature starter (the measurement isn't critical. After 6 hours at 86F it's bubbly, foamy, yeasty-smelling and ready to use.