The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter smells 'funny'

tds's picture
tds

Starter smells 'funny'

I've just made my first ever starter, wheatflour, according to the 'flour and water only' method found in Andrew Whitley's "Bread Matters".  It smells pretty evil, though there's no mould, and it rises.  Kind of very strong blue cheese / feety type smell that I've noticed others mention here, but definitely not inviting or appetising!

So, I did some searching around here and found mention of bacteria called 'leuconostoc'.  Googling it, I found the Wikipedia entry saying that this stuff is potentially dangerous.  As I haven't made sourdough before, I've kept my fingers crossed and got all the way through to the proving stage.  I'm wondering if I should be dropping the whole lot in the bin, and burning the starter pot / mixing bowl etc.  Well, not quite, but you get the picture. :)

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

Hi tds,

I am new to sourdough (and baking in general)

I havent actually made a loaf yet as I am a bit scared about the whole "bacteria" thing.

I was going to post here and ask if anyone ever gets sick or food poisoning from sourdough starters gone wrong.

So I'd like to add to your questions. How do you keep your starter from going bad? Is there a "bad" and how do you know it is contaminated?

Have any of you gotten ill from a homemade sourdough starter?

 

Thanks

From

theparanoidgreenbaker

 

 

skeebo's picture
skeebo
jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Leuconostoc is easily got rid of. All you have to do is feed a part starter to six parts flour and enough water preferably by weight twice a day. The leuconostoc will go quite naturally when the starter is healthy. The starter isn't ready to bake with anyway til it's healthy so you shouldn't be in a position or worry about eating. Don't ever eat starter by the way. Why would you want to. I know some idiot made a tv show and tasted the starter all the way through but there's some really nasty stuff been found in new raw starters. Don't Do It. Cooked bread will have killed off anything no good to eat anyway so if your  bread has risen well enough to make good bread don't worry about it. 

Jim

tds's picture
tds

Thanks all... And hello, by the way - just joined.  I'm located in London, England, and I've only got back in to making bread since stumbling across this site a couple of months ago.  Had great results with wet doughs (basically following most of Floyd's 'Tips for better French bread') and instant yeast.  Great as in very tasty - my forming and slashing isn't up to much yet so my loaves often look a bit funny.

Anyway, homemade starter was the logical progression.  Perhaps I should not have attempted to make bread with it just yet, having read all the above and followed the link to the FAQ.  Can anyone explain how I'd know if it's 'Leuconostoc' for sure? 

Still, I may as well attempt to bake the loaf that's sitting on the counter if I know the baking will kill anything dangerous.  If it tastes as bad as the starter smelled, I won't be eating too much of it anyway.

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Hi 

if it smells of sick it's leuconostoc, if it smells winey bake with it. If it smells cheesy, perhaps best to refresh it a couple of times first. Whereabouts in the uk are you? 
Jim

merrybaker's picture
merrybaker

Debbie Wink and others at the King Arthur Baking Circle found that a starter begun with pineapple juice will not develop leuconostoc because the acid in the juice neutralizes that bacteria.  Other juices will work, but pineapple is the most reliable.  It's so reliable that Peter Reinhart is going to give that method in his upcoming cookbook.  So you might want to give it a try.  Basically, you just use pineapple juice and flour on days one and two of making your starter, and then feed with water and flour from then on.  

tds's picture
tds

I wouldn't say 'sick' exactly, but closer to that than wine. Definitely not at all appetising.  I'm afraid the loaf that I've just proved is going to end up in the bin and chalked up to experience.  I'll try a fresh starter I think!  Perhaps pineapple juice will help - I had resisted that because Andrew Whitley is so anti the use of anything but flour and water in his book.

I'm in South London by the way, Jim.

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng


Oh no, keep going, the pineapple won't do your starter any harm if you fancy putting some in now. But if it isn't exactly baby sick at the moment then you're probably heading out of the woods. You only need to make a starter once so you may as well keep going. 

Jim

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Orange juice worked great for me if you don't have or want to use pineapple juice.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I agree with Andrew  Whitely in that flour and water are enough to make a great starter. Organic rye flour is excellent to make a starter, use it for the first 2 or 3 days, then start feeding with white organic bread flour instead- takes about 10 days of feeding to really get going, then it is easy to make into a stiff starter and keep in the fridge.
Try Dan Lepards book "The Handmade Loaf" available here in the UK - he uses raisins, but if you miss them out and follow his method, using rye flour, it will work great. Mine smelled pear - droppish for the first few weeks, before settling to something more appealing.
If you give your address, I'll post you some of mine in a little container, with instructions on how I feed it and a couple of recipes which work great with it. It's now about 3 years old and bakes excellent bread...
Andrew (in Sussex)