The Fresh Loaf

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starter smelled like yoghurt

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Jw's picture
Jw

starter smelled like yoghurt

I should have known something was wrong with the starter. After an overnight to make a starter, it smelled like yoghurt and there were no bubbles at all. No rise in the oven. I guess my starter was too ripe, but I am not sure.

Lesson learned: when you are not sure about the started: stop the proces!


Can I eat the bread? It is a bit sticky, looks wet as well.

Tx, Jw.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

It doesn't sound as if anyone would want to eat it.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Knowing how curious I am, I probably will take a small bite just to find out how it taste like.  Also knowing how paranoid I am, I probably will throw out the whole after the first bite.


So far, my SD starter has been kind to me so no bricks just yet.  There were a couple of times when I neglected my starter and I saw very little bubbles, I threw out most of it and used about 1/4 C and fed it twice a day.  I managed to save the starter that way.  So lucky me, didn't have to start it all over again.  Now it's a golden rule, be kind to my starter as I would want my starter be kind to me.



fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Is the starter new or well established?  If it's new, it sounds like the starter simply isn't ready yet (what you describe is the very normal middle phase of the starter forming... phase one, super-bubbly, smells like baby puke. :)  Phase two, no bubbles, smells like yoghurt.  And phase three, bubbly, smells tangy and yeasty).  If it was well established, my bet is that the starter got overly acidic and the yeast died off.  I've had that happen when I switched to an all white feeding... after switching back to 50/50 white/rye and feeding it twice a day for a couple days, it came back.


I'm sure the bread won't kill you, but I'm not sure it's worth eating (the lactobacilli and other critters that were in your starter wouldn't have produced enough gas to properly leaven the dough, so the outcome would be pretty brick-like...)

Glass-Weaver's picture
Glass-Weaver

I've been having a similar scenario.  I'm three week's into a Pineapple Solution starter, the first week was just as excpected.  I then began a twice daily feeding of white bread flour, 1 oz starter, 2 oz flour, 2 oz water, room temperature.  Faithful feeding.  It worked well for about a week, but has now become quite weak, and yesterday's bread hardly rose at all, was dense and wet, and too sour.  Argh!  Shall I try switching to 1/2 rye feedings for a while?  Any comments on my feeding routine to prevent my next attempt from going down the same road?  Thanks in advance for your advice.


Terri (Glass-Weaver)

jj1109's picture
jj1109

... will do wonders. You will probably only need a single 50% rye feeding to bring some life back to your starter!


 


(well, that's all I needed ;))

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to an even smaller amount like a heaping teaspoon.  Then add 1 oz water and flour until it's a thick paste, almost a ball of dough.  Let stand 12 hours.   Thicken it up with a mixture of wheat & rye flours and let it feast!  Don't feed until it dimples and starts to deflate.


Mini

Jw's picture
Jw

thanks for all feedback. This is what I did: split the starter in two. Added one icecubed started, which I saved from a few weeks ago. Then yesterday added rye and water, and things looked much more positive today. I will give it a try again after a day or more of rye feeding.

We did not eat the bread, used it to feed the swans. They sure liked it....

Cheers,
Jw.

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

same thing happened to me. the starter has been going for almost three weeks. the yeast completely died out, even after 2 rye feedings, and not only that, I saw a bug in it.


 


does anyone know how to prevent this from happening for future reference?

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

How on earth did a bug get in there?  You are covering it, aren't you? :)


Personally, I find that regularly feeding (as in, the normal, day-to-day feeding) with a 50/50 or 75/25 white/rye (preferably dark rye) blend is a very good idea (you could also try using WW flour in place of rye).  See, the yeast in a starter comes from yeast present on the grains when the flour is milled.  By using a flour that retains more of the grain (such as a whole wheat or dark rye), you're increasing the chances of incorporating more yeast into your starter, which helps keep the starter strong.  In addition, IIRC, whole grain flours will buffer the acidity a bit, which means you get better control over Ph (don't want the bacteria going nuts and lowering the Ph too far!).


Of course, this is all based on my own experience and some retroactive justification for what I do. :)  So take it with a grain (har har) of salt.  But this approach certainly works for me.

TeaIV's picture
TeaIV

so is it then impossible to ever have a white flour SD starter for a long period of time?


 


no clue how a bug got in there. scared me to bits! I just decided I'm throwing it away at that point.


 


TeaIV

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Oh, I'm sure it's possible.  I've just found that a partial rye or wheat starter fares better.



That said, it shouldn't make much of a difference in your recipes.  Remember, we're talking about maintenance feedings, here.  When you're ready to actually make bread, typically the process is to create a first build using the starter and some flour, followed by a final build.  If, in these stages, you use all white flour, by the time you've completed the final build, the amount of rye/WW in your bread will be miniscule, percentage-wise.


To put this in more concrete terms, I maintain my starter at a 150g weight.  So each time I feed, I use 30g starter, and 60g flour that's a mix of 20g rye flour and 40g white.  Now, suppose I use 120g of that starter (leaving enough to refresh) to make a 700g loaf of bread.  I know that starter is 1/3 rye, so that means just 40g of rye is present in that 700g loaf, which amounts to just 5% of the total flour weight.  Pretty miniscule, really.  And that's assuming I use 120g of starter in the first build, which is actually a fair bit (I believe the BBA recipe uses half that in the first build).


 

ejm's picture
ejm

It's been a while since I've created and maintained a starter but when I was first starting, Susan (Wild Yeast) was very helpful. She has written an excellent post about building a starter: Flour + Water = Starter with photos showing the kind of bubbles that are sought.


She talks about the fact that two kinds of bacteria are formed: the first is "leuconostoc" - smells like yoghurt, is harmless, but also useless for bread rising (I had remembered the name "lacto-bacillus" but I'm terrible at remembering names). As the starter is fed, a second bacteria emerges - I can't remember its name - and THAT is the one that will get the bread to rise.


One of the coolest things about the starter though is that if it is fed regularly, the symbiotic relationship between these two bacteria keep the starter from going bad! Amazing! But the regular feeding is essential. If new food is not introduced, the bacteria die.


I wonder if it's possible that your second "bread" bacteria died off, leaving only the first "useless" bacteria in the starter bowl.


-Elizabeth


(Some months ago, when the kitchen was insanely cold, I accidentally on purpose murdered my starter that I had going for over a year. The bread I was producing with it was tooooo sour. But at one point in the summer when the resulting bread was good, I did find two fruit flies in my starter. I just fished them out and continued, pretending I hadn't noticed anything. After all, they were fruit flies, and besides, what's wrong with a little extra protein?)

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"As the starter is fed, a second bacteria emerges - I can't remember its name - and THAT is the one that will get the bread to rise."


 


Uh, I believe it's called "yeast". :)



Oh, and as an aside, that post on sourdough cultures is *excellent*.  I've used her straight-up flour + water starter technique twice now, and it's worked flawlessly both times (my latest starter went from zero to ripe in just five days!).  Screw all this pineapple juice/grapes/other fancy stuff.  Good ol' flour and water works for me! :)

ejm's picture
ejm

Quite right... :-) I was actually trying to remember the latin name. I believe it's Saccharomyces - but of course, I could be wrong.


And I agree, I much prefer this "flour and water" method. The one I used happily was a similar one in Susan McKenna Grant's book "Piano Piano Pieno". Her recipe is geared towards the home cook, using much smaller amounts of flour than the others call for. It started with rye flour, water and a tiny amount of unpastuerized honey and continued with unbleached flour and water. I think the only reason I had difficulty was because of the non-constant mostly very cool temperatures in our kitchen.


It's ridiculously hot now though. Perhaps I should try again....


-Elizabeth

Jw's picture
Jw

thanks for the great comments. I believe my starter was several months old, did really well until now. I am back on track now, baked some great bread late last night, it was all gone when I got home from work this evening (which is a good sign!).

Basically I started 'force-feeding' the starter and I used an icecubed version of the starter for a second batch. Both with the same results. I think I stretched the no-feed period a bit and something in the starter died. I'am back on track now, pictures will follow.


Cheers,
Jw.

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

All of a sudden yesterday my starter went dead as a doornail and started having a nasty yoghurt smell.


Initially I was perplexed: it's been going beautifully for a couple of months, fed daily (with an extra feed before baking days) with 1/3 organic rye and 2/3 flour and I hadn't changed the routine.


But I just realized: I had opened a new bag of flour two days ago - and ten minutes ago I took another good look at the bag: it's not organic. I picked up the wrong bag. That's what happens when you visit the mill without your reading glasses (both flours are packed in plain brown bags with a small label. The organic one has the word "bio" in small print).
So now I have 5 kilo's of flour I'm never going to touch again. $#*&@!


Based on this thread, I'll try reviving it - with organic flour, obviously. And when I go to the mill coming saturday, I'll tell the miller about this. Surely people succeed in maintaining a starter with non-organic flour?