The Fresh Loaf

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Stinky Starter

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JLatimer's picture
JLatimer

Stinky Starter

Okay. I know people are asking about how the starter should smell all the time, but I'm gonna ask again anyway.


My starter is 4 days old and it is already really vigorous. I started it with just fresh ground whole wheat flour and water. When you feed it it really goes crazy rising. It almost exploded out of the jar last night. So I'm pretty sure there's plenty of yeast growing in there.


The problem is, it smells pretty bad. Kinda farty, kinda pukey. I just detected some sour notes this morning for the first time, but otherwise I haven't noticed any before. It has not smelled very yeasty, either; just a faint fart-like aroma. Will this smell go away with time? I stuck the culture in the refrigerator today.


Could it be that my starter was too warm?


I read that over time the bacteria and yeast I want will predominate over the stinkies I don't want. Is this true? or should I throw it out and start over? It seems so alive I would hate to throw it out because I assume it's got quite a bit of leavening potential!

Martyn's picture
Martyn

I would keep the starter out of the fridge. Keep your quantity small to avoid wasting too much flour with feeds and persevere a bit longer.


What quantities of flour and water are you using?

JLatimer's picture
JLatimer

Okay. I moved the starter out of the fridge and back to where I had it before. It is currently covered loosely with saran wrap at the top. I'd say by volume the starter is about 2 cups at this point. I was feeding it with approx. 3:4::water:flour, by volume.


Last time I fed it, I fed it about a cup of flour, 3/4 cup water. The feedings were smaller but increasing each time before that. The last time, I also removed about half the starter before feeding it, to make room, so to speak.


So I should leave it out of fridge? For how long? How long should I keep it out? Daily feedings?


Thanks.


 


When might I expect the smell to improve? At that point could I start keeping it in the fridge?

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Did you use the pineapple juice method mentioned here?  I forget the details, but there is a secondary type thing that exists in many flour supplies that gives new starters a quick and active 'fake' start-up.  The lacto-bacillus and wild yeast will overcome it once it gets going, so it's a no-big-deal type of situation.  The pineapple juice method prevents it by making the starter acidic right from the start, I believe.  But hey, my mind is fuzzy on this topic ...search around here at TFL and you'll find what I'm talking about (and can get the straight answer rather than my 'fuzzy memory' answer.)  Either way, my starter doesn't stink but doesn't smell yeasty or sour either.  The flavors come out in the bread, not the starter, or at least that's been my experience.  Maybe my sniffer's broke...


Brian


 

JLatimer's picture
JLatimer

I did not use the pineapple juice solution, although I'm aware of it. Why didn't I use pineapple juice? Mostly because I just didn't have any around.


I don't feel a need to start over and use the juice since my flour-and-water one seems to be working.


I'm only gonna start over if ya'll think it's rotten/spoiled or something. As long as it will be okay ultimately, I hope to persevere and continue.

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Here's the thread that I referred to:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1


 


Brian


 


 

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

I've never used the pineapple juice method.  But if your starter dies off and goes kind of flat, then you'll know why.  Just keep following the feeding schedule and give it a refrigeration every now and then, and it'll come around.  I'm convinced that early performance, e.g. first couple of months, can vary a bit but with patience, your starter will become robust and consistently high-performing if you stick with it.  Oh, and as it matures into a solid performer, you'll notice that those 'early smells' will go away and it'll smell healthy to you, not 'flatulency' (haha).


Brian


 

JLatimer's picture
JLatimer

Thanks.


I was just worried because I couldn't find much info on starters that smelled flatulent. I did find one site that mentioned starter that smelled like stuff that one finds in a baby's diaper, but I just wanted to make sure this wasn't permanent.


Pumpernickel I've heard loosely translated is "Devil's Fart Bread." I didn't want to make any bread that actually tastes like a fart from hell.


 


BTW, sorry for bringing the discourse on this site down to such a sixth-grade level.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I set up your basic water-and-flour type of starter and it did what seems yours did as well. Whatever bacteria set up shop for the "false rise" stunk to high heaven. It took about a week of twice-a-day (i.e. normal) feedings to finally work the last of that stink out of Wally. Eventually, though, he became just as nice as his pineapple juice brother, PJ. You can follow their trials and tribulations here.


So the moral of that story is: don't fret about it too much, it will eventually get back to normal and become a good starter. Some people get the false rise without much stink, others like us, not so lucky. Just depends on what critters in your baby starter decided to perk up first, I guess.


But keep at it, don't try to rush (the mantra of the Sourdough Starter is "Patience, patience, patience and even more patience") and you'll have great sourdough bread soon enough.



Paul


MellowBakers.com


Group Baking Hamelman's BREAD at a mellow pace.


JLatimer's picture
JLatimer

cool. thanks for the help.


BTW, I forgot to mention that in addition to the "false rise," I had what I assumed was hooch the first or second day -- a lot earlier than I had expected to see that too! Was it pseudo-hooch? It was the color of hooch I've gotten in the past, and it was on the top, a layer maybe 1/4 inch thick, but it didn't smell very yeasty or boozy.


Does anyone know the Latin name of a bacterium which produces this sort of liquid and smelly gas?


What was in that flour?!?