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Starter question

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BlueDevil0206's picture
BlueDevil0206

Starter question

So I'm in the process of starting a starter from scratch.  I made approx. ~120% hydration mix of flour and water (a little WW with the AP) with 200mg of vitamin C tablet.  After 24 hours I fed it a cup of 100% hydration food.  It's getting kind of bubbly (day 2) and it sort of smells like yogurt (not too sour, but a little) with a little vegetal smell along with it.  What do you think? The vegetal smell is worrying me.  Any description of what a 'bad' starter smells like? I'm not getting any liquid separation.

Susan's picture
Susan

So it's not bad. If it's bad, you won't be able to stand it in the same room with you. If it's pink or orange, throw it out and start over. Are you following JMonkey and TTonka's Starter Trial? I made a new one along with them, and it is quite a success.  

Susan from San Diego

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

If it still acts like sourdough aught too, then it's probably good.  Keep it going.

 

mine stll makes all sorts of smells, but we're getting use to them.

 

jeffrey

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I agree w/Susan, that you know it when there's that bad smell in it. However, even the bad smells usually go away within a couple of days. It's not unusual to get a stink on day 2 and day 3 that's definitely unpleasant. I also notice all kinds of strange smells when the starter is getting going from day 3 to about day 5. It doesn't really smell like what it's supposed to smell like to me until about day 7 or even a few days after that usually.

By the way, how much water did you combine w/the 200mg of vit C? I have been trying vitamin C/ascorbic acid at various times. I found about 1/8 tsp ascorbic acid mixed w/500mL of water seems to work OK, but it's always interesting to know what someone else did with it.

BlueDevil0206's picture
BlueDevil0206

Well I read that 250mg per 6 fl. oz. water is approximately pH 3.5 so I dissolved a full gram in 24 fl. oz. and then used 5 ounces of that solution (so approx 200mg of ascorbic acid). I sold my pH meter with my homebrewing equipment, but maybe I should have kept it :).

bwraith's picture
bwraith

The ascorbic acid package from KA says 1/4 tsp is 1.5 grams, so 1/8 tsp would be 750mg, and if I put that in 500mL, it would be close to the concentration you get with 1g in 24 oz. I did fire up my pH meter to check the pH of the above solution once a few weeks ago and can't quite remember the results, but I think it's around 3.5, as you say. I'll be curious to know how it works for you. In my case, it seemed to attenuate the early stinky phase I would get without the acid, but I don't know if it really has made that much difference to how long it takes in the end for the starter to become usable.

BlueDevil0206's picture
BlueDevil0206

Well, for some reason, I'm not too keen on the pineapple or orange juice thing, so that's why I've tried with the ascorbic acid.

I'm sure the ascorbic acid you have is pure. A 1000mg tablet weighs 2g+-.5g so there are other things in there.  So maybe I'm not getting the pH as low as I think due to the impurities.  Oh well, we'll see.  It's just that the starter smells like Kim Chee or Saurkraut so it freaked me out a bit :).

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I started using ascorbic acid in place of citrus juice in my starter experiments because I'm allergic to citrus and particularly to pineapple juice and grapefruit juice. We sometimes have orange juice for others here in the house, but pineapple juice is never around. About 3 years ago, I used a half of a 500mg vitamin C tablet in 6 oz of water while following along with all the leuconostoc discussions and pineapple juice in day 1 and 2 recipes associated w/Peter Reinhart's starter recipe in the BBA, and I'm pretty sure that was also somewhere pretty close to a 3.5 pH, so even if a tablet like that has some other things in it, they must not be big contributers to the pH.

As far as the smell, it's a mystery to me, but I think every single starter I've ever started had a different smell from all the others on about days 3-7 or so, before they would take off and became more active. There seems to be a huge variation in the smells you can get, so I wouldn't worry about it unless it starts to get that unmistakeably unpleasant spoiled or rotten odor accompanied by separation into layers and funny colors and all that, which it should not do after about day 3 or 4. Saurkraut or Kim Chee doesn't sound bad to me, but maybe I haven't spent enough time taking deep whiffs of those preparations.

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

and is doubling by about 55% in 12 hours. As of yesterday, my slight "ucky vomit" smell changed to a more acetic acid smell. Today it definitely smells like vinegar so your analogy to sauerkraut or kimchee is about accurate at least in reference to mine.

Just wanted to share that with you. Now between you and me, I don't know if that's good or bad! ;). I think mine was at day 4 or so when I gave it a shot with 1tsp of fresh lime juice. It seemed to really help it out and started it on the road to living I think but it may have just been coincidence too! I say that because I think your vitamin c has helped it.

 

Good luck!