The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough and vinegar mother issues

juniperjan's picture

Sourdough and vinegar mother issues


Wanted to put this out there and see if anyone has had a similar experience.  I maintain vinegar mother cultures for both red and white wines and in the past when I have kept sourdough cultures I have lost my sourdough to the vinegar mother.  I maintained the sourdough starters as directed only to open it to use one day and find vinegar. It has happened more than once and it is quite frustrating. I am starting a new culture for sourdough and don't want it happen again. Any suggestions or ideas out there.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When you write that "I have lost my sourdough starter to the vinegar Mother" I'm not sure what you mean.  Do you mean it smells a lot like vinegar?  Which sounds normal for a starter that needs feeding.  It will be sour smelling. Do you mean it is fluid and separated into vinegar with a floury layer on the bottom?

How old is your starter when it "turns" and how liquid is it?  How much flour to water? 

My gut feeling tells me they were alright, just needed more flour food or that the starter should have been reduced to bare minimum (one to two teaspoons) and then fed discarding the rest. 

Mini O

salma's picture

If you find hooch on top of your starter, are you supposed to drain it off or mix it in before feeding?



ClimbHi's picture

Mix it in.

Pittsburgh, PA

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Your vinegar mother is an acetic acid bacterium (probably Acetobacter), and as such is obligately aerobic. What that means is that it requires oxygen to live.

Sourdough starter is for the most part, an anaerobic environment, populated by lactic acid bacteria (LAB), which don't need oxygen.

The LAB that grow in sourdough starter, produce more than lactic acid. They also produce acetic acid. So it is normal to find vinegar in your sourdough :-)