The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New Starter smells

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Timbo's picture
Timbo

New Starter smells

Like old beer. Well I'm not really sure if it smells like alcohol or sour since I'm not really sure how its supposed to smell. I have been feeding it once a day for about 6 days. It has doubled and even tripled but I read that if you keep doing it you will develop a more sour starter. I have also heard that it smelling like alcohol is very bad. Please tell me I can fix it.

 

Any suggestion on what to do would be greatly appreciated. I really don't enjoy being a newbie but I do like making bread and I was hoping to make my first Sourdough this weekend.

dosco's picture
dosco

Timbo:
Need more info on how you feed, etc. Are you discarding about half of the spent starter? What ratio do you use to feed? (I recently tried 1:2:3 (starter:water:flour) What kind of flour do you use? How long does it take to double? What is the temperature that you let it ferment at?

Regards-

Dave

dosco's picture
dosco

I forgot to mention ... I homebrew a bit (although not much lately) ... old beer smell is probably a good thing, as it means the yeast is working. If it smells yeast/of old beer/and sour (think vinegar) then I think you're probably fine.

-Dave

Timbo's picture
Timbo

Dave

I had been halving it which left me about 7.5 OZ. To that I was adding 4.5 oz flour and 4 OZ water. It was doubling in just a couple hours. Last night it tripled in less then 3 hours. I have been feeding once a day. I use bread flour but the original was one with rye and one whole wheat (I actually have two). After reading some posts last night, this morning I held back 4 oz of starter and added 4 oz of bread flour and four oz of water. I think I was under feeding it but any and all comments are welcome. If it still smells that way tonight I may try your the 1:2:3 above. Thanks for the information.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Timbo,

Your intuition was probably right. I think you are underfeeding your starter. It is commonly recommended that you feed your starter every time it peaks (gets as high as it can go - double, triple, whatever) and usually it is best just after the peak, when it begins to fall. I suggest you keep a smaller amount of the starter at each feeding, and feed it every time it peaks. With a little patience, a lot of diligence, and experience, you can get it to peak in 12 hours, and feed it twice a day. Or, you could feed it even more and make it last 24 hours. While it sounds cool to say your starter peaks in 2 or 3 hours, in reality that just means you should be feeding it that often, which wouldn't be fun. If you have a kitchen scale, you could keep as little as 0.10 oz of the starter, and feed it probably somewhere around 0.20 to 0.40 oz flour and the same amount of water. It's much more economical that way. When you're ready to bake, build up the starter to the amount you need to bake with at that time. There's no need to keep that much laying around all the time, unless you're using it that much every day.

Timbo's picture
Timbo

I wasn't thinking it was cool that it peaked in 3 hours. It was actually kind of alarming. Thanks for the advise. I am going to do that in just a couple of minutes. I was hoping to bake sourdough this weekend but I want to get the starter just right before I do. It still has that old beer smell.

Timbo's picture
Timbo

And David we are practically neighbors, I live in the Davidson area.