The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough smells

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NancyMarieF's picture
NancyMarieF

Sourdough smells

I've had a sourdough starter for years. A friend gave it to me in Alaska over 25 years ago, and at the time it was over 20 years old. After using it off and on over the years, and storing some of it dried just in case I had problems, I've recently started using it more--my sons discovered the joy of sourdough pancakes--but it had a vinegar-like odor for the first time. I appreciate the posts as this is the first time I've gone on line seeking out others who appreciate sourdough. Thanks for all your comments!

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Probably has to do with your feeding and storage schedule. Whatever has happened (+ whatever you are doing to maintain it now) is leading to a concentration of acetic acid in your starter, which is vinegar. The sour flavors in starters come from the balance of lactic acid and acetic acid that are generated by the bacteria (in addition to the yeast) that live in your starter. Acetic acid = vinegar, lactic acid = yogurt. 

How do you feed it (how often, ratio of starter to flour to water), what do you feed it, how do you store it? that will help us provide you with some suggestions on the direction to go to make it less sour. 

 

NancyMarieF's picture
NancyMarieF

Thanks for your follow-up. Truth be told, I had stored my starter in the frig for too long without feeding (several weeks), so the poor thing was probably just hungry. I usually feed with approximately equal parts of unbleached flour and water, until it stirs right. I usually feed every couple of days, unless I'm using it more often, and then I will feed daily. However, I had used some bleached flour which I don't think it likes as well. When refrigerated, it's stored in an airtight plastic container. However, after generously feeding it yesterday, we enjoyed great pancakes with a mild flavor for breakfast. I think we're back on the right track.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Good to hear. Maintaining a fairly liquid starter as you are doing should help keep a mild flavor.

Be aware that the more liquid a starter is, the faster it generally eat through all of the food that you make available to it.

Ford's picture
Ford

I agree with the above comments.  Don't worry about the acetic acid; it is a natural byproduct of the fermentation.  Just continue to feed the starter every two weeks or so after storing in the refrigerator.  Do continue to keep some dried starter as a backup.

 

Ford

NancyMarieF's picture
NancyMarieF

Thanks for the reminder about keeping dried starter. I still have a little left of what I brought to the Lower 48 when I moved from Fairbanks! I've also dried a little more as extra insurance. Of course, my boys are thrilled to have all the bread and pancakes these days, too.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

If they like SD pancakes wait till they taste SD waffels..., 

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-sourdough-waffles-or-pancakes-recipe

Wild-Yeast