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Too-sour, alcohol-smelling starter

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Tarrosion's picture
Tarrosion

Too-sour, alcohol-smelling starter

Hello,


 


I've looked around a bit and didn't find my exact question, so here goes:


 


11 days ago, I started a sourdough starter. My approximate schedule was as follows:


 


Day 1: 40g pineapple juice, 40g rye flour
Day 2: 40g pineapple, 40g rye flour
Day 3: Discard half (eyeballed), 50g pineapple, 50g bread flour
Days 4-7: Discard 2/3 (eyeballed), 60g filtered (not bottled) water, 65g bread flour
Days 7-11: Feeding and discarding as days 4-7, but twice a day (not exactly every twelve hours)


 


For the first three days, the starter had no visible rise or bubbles and no sour smell. Around day four or five, I noticed a strong sour smell - also rather alcoholic smelling - and a few bubbles on the surface. Interestingly, the bubbles on the surface seemed to have a film - almost like a soap bubble. I transfered the starter to a new container with its next feeding and made sure the container was clean, without soap residue, and fed generously. However, even after that I still sometimes saw bubbles with that appeared to have thin films.


For the last couple days, the starter has been stable. Between feedings (I'm either at work or asleep, so I can't give more detail) the starter grows very slightly, the top becomes sort of uneven looking (almost like it grew and fell a tiny bit), and through the side of its container, I see some very small bubbles. The smell is still extremely strong - I like sour bread and the sour smell, but it's strong enough to be unpleasant. Judging by the marks on the side of the container, the starter probably (but not definitely) does not double and then fall to where I find it.


So, do I need to trash this one and start again, or should I just keep at it? If the former, would someone be so kind as to link to a recommended procedure, and if the latter, might I have some recommendations on feeding? I don't need the starter immediately, but it is important to me to have a working starter by the week of July 12.


 


Thanks,
Tarrosion

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi,


I would discard all but 10g of your starter.   Feed that with 60g water and 65g flour, and then return to your days 4-7 regime.   Don't eyeball the amount you keep, weigh it, then you know you are keeping everything in proportion.   Sorry I assume eyeball means "guess", but I'm UK based, so it's a term I'm not familiar with.   Also, you only need to use filtered water if you know your regular source is heavily-treated.


Best of luck


Andy

Tarrosion's picture
Tarrosion

Thanks for the advice. (And yes, "eyeballing" does mean "guessing").


By filtered water, I mean that the tap water passes through a filter. We also have a very small reverse osmosis unit (mostly for drinking water) - would you recommend that I use that or the [filtered] tap?


Tarrosion

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast


Thanks for the advice. (And yes, "eyeballing" does mean "guessing").


By filtered water, I mean that the tap water passes through a filter. We also have a very small reverse osmosis unit (mostly for drinking water) - would you recommend that I use that or the [filtered] tap?


Tarrosion



Water quality is very important to starters especially if chloramine is present.  Reverse Osmosis will remove it with their carbon filtration units. Boiling the filtered water is also a good practice. 


Good Luck

Tarrosion's picture
Tarrosion

Sorry for reviving a slightly old thread, but:


 


I have followed the advice in this thread for the past couple days, but the smell has not abated. I find that if I leave the starter uncovered, then the smell is excellent - just sour enough, but very "bready" as well. However, when I cover the starter - even partially - the foul smell returns within only a few hours (fed it, came back 4 hours later, and 'twas already off-putting). When fully covered, the smell is strong enough to evoke taste.


I have read that starters sometimes take two weeks to settle, but this starter is now older than two weeks (though not by much, to be sure) and shows no signs of finding a good smell. 


I should also add that in the summer, my kitchen is fairly warm. Today after work, it was 79 degrees Fahrenheit. 


So, continue feeding generously, or ditch?


Thanks,
Tarrosion

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

You could try 'washing' it as on this thread http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/946/does-using-not-too-recently-refreshed-sourdough-lead-very-sour-sourdough


or this Sourdough FAQ sheet http://www.faqs.org/faqs/food/sourdough/starters/


 I did this to my starter early on when it smelt strongly of acetone and it really helped. However if it continues to smell really bad it might be safest to start again.


Have you checked if your lid is contaminated? Foodstuffs that contaminate the lids can also contaminate the starter. 


Hope you get it sorted.  Kind regards, Daisy_A