The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

starter has blue spots on the surface???

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t-man's picture
t-man

starter has blue spots on the surface???

i'm learning the basic sourdough technique as outlined in the "TARTINE" bread book that i recently purchased.

i'd love to be able to master this one... i followed the instructions for making/developing the starter.  i used a 50/50 mix of gold medal whole-wheat and all purpose.  i mixed it yesterday and it's now been about 24 hours.  there is DEFINITELY something going on.  it is a little puffy, lots of little bubbles, and looks as i expected.  except for one thing...

the surface has little spots of blue-ish color.  if they were gray, i wouldn't think anything of it.  i suppose they do have a gray tint to them, but i really think i'm seeing blue-ish.  the spots are not well defined, but they are definitely uniform over the surface.  nothing else looks out of the ordinary (although this is my first time with a sourdough starter).

as of yet, the odor is not very pronounced.  it doesn't smell much different than when i started.  can anyone tell me if these blue-ish spots are normal???

 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Your blue-ish spots are most likely little gas bubbles. After that short time you can't expect a distinct smell, yet. Everything seems fine, don't worry.

Karin

 

 

t-man's picture
t-man

ok, thanks!  last night i took it out of the stainless seel bowl that i had it in, for fear that the metal had something to do with it... i thought maybe there was a bad reaction going on.  it's now in a large glass jar.  on to the next issue...

when transferring, i noticed another thing... it was light, frothy, bubbly on top 1/2 inch, and rather stiff, thick, and no bubbles on the bottom 1/2 inch.   i wish i could spare you the details, but it smelled like... um... vomit.  i'm so sorry... i hesitated to bring that verbiage into a discussion about food!  but to put it bluntly, that's what it smells like.... it doesn't have the "sweet" or delicately sour scent that many talk about.  it was just plain foul.  i washed the equipment before i mixed it... i washed my hands and rinsed them very well.... should i start over?  give it another couple of days?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

What you are seeing/smelling is very typical of a starter in its first 1-3 days of existence.  The bubbles are from bacteria at this stage, not from yeast.  Therefore, stinky rather than fruity odors.  Continue to follow your chosen process for developing your starter.

The next phase will be for the starter to go absolutely flatline.  So, fear not! in advance.  Again, it will be a perfectly normal progression from one bacterial regime to another as the pH in the starter falls.  Eventually it will get to the point that the yeasts and lactobacilli wake up and start working in  harmony.  Then things will smell good and you will begin to see the starter rising and falling at predictable intervals.

In the meantime, read Debra Wink's The Pineapple Solution, Parts 1 and 2 here on TFL.  It will give you a detailed understanding of what is going on in your starter and who the major players are.  Just type in pineapple solution in the Search box at the upper left to find it.

Paul

t-man's picture
t-man

whew, thanks paul... sounds like i'm on the right track.  today i'm on to the "day 3" instructions.  and i'll take a look at the 'pineapple' solution.  thanks for the tip!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Many people get to the stinking stage that you are experiencing and mistakenly throw away the starter.  Paul has saved you from that fate.

Happy Baking ,   Jeff

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

turn red or orange and start swimming under the surface, call your local Hazmat team and get the kids deloused just to be safe :-)

Glad everythong turned out alright - no good starter should be left behind.

t-man's picture
t-man

paul... i think we've gone flat-line.  can you describe that to me in a little more detail?  i.e. will it raise at all during this phase?  will it do anything?  do i continue to discard 80% each day and feed 1/4 cup each of water and flour?  it doesn't appear to be doing much of anything.  after feeding, there are a few bubbles that rise to surface, but for the most part, i think these are just bubbles left over from stirring.  one thing i have noticed, though, is that the acrid smell is less pronounced.  i may be imagining things, but i seem to be sensing nuances of that sweeter/pleasant sour odor begining to come through... each morning, i definitely notice that the miture has separated.  thicker on the bottom with a layer of clear/gray liquid on top.  should i pour this liquid off before feeding or incorporate it into the the mix? when should i expect to see signs of raising? i think we're on about day 6.  any insight you can provide would be appreciated!  thanks again... tom  

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

At this early stage of starter development I do not think that discarding 80% of the mix is a good idea.  This leaves too little starter to do too much work.  This would work perfectly with a fully developed starter but not a this point.  For now, I would discard half on a daily basis.

Jeff