The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How can I know if my sourdough smell right?

drdudidu's picture

How can I know if my sourdough smell right?

Hi everybody and greetings for the amazing forums

I started my interest in bread baking several months ago. Read a lot in Peter Reinhart's books and was excited of sourdough breads. Due to several bad experiences I abandoned the idea for a while, and now back to it.

Actually made a whole wheat starter according to Reinhart instructions (including the pineapple juice) - and that starter came into life very quickly which was so exciting. The problems started when creating the mother starter. I don't know if I left it outside too long, but I suspected that it didn't smell so good (although written in several places that that is normal). Made my first 100% whole wheat bread according to his master formula. That "bread" ended in the garbage :(   it was so sour not to say rotten, and completely fall apart - ????

I had a back-up of the starter in the fridge (the one before making the mother starter) - which came back to life very quickly with white flour.

I fed him, and after 2 feedings - again the feeling that the smell is not so good

How can I tell if my starter is rotten or contain the undesirable bacteria?

And how do I make it to the starter needed to sourdough breads (I mean the ratio of starter:water:flour)? are the quantities in oz are usually given as a volume or weight?

I want to try and make Jeffrey Hamelman's sourdough seed bread and did not know how to make my starter into the levain described by LindyD: Liquid levain:
4.8 oz. bread flour
6 oz. water
1 oz. mature culture

- wheight or volume? can I start with my starter?

Thanks so much for your help!

Ford's picture

It usually takes several weeks before a new starter is really able to give proper rising to the bread.  Also time is required to give the taste yoiu might wish.  Sometimes there is an off odor generated in the early stages of starter development.  The pinapple juice method usually avoids this, but sometimes not.  Just keep on with your feeding and mixing schedule, the "bad" bacteria will die off as the starter gets more acidic.

If ounces are indicated in a recipe for bread, it usually means weight.

Most bakers use equal weight flour and water for their starter, or even a higher ration of flour.


I hope this helps. 


drdudidu's picture

thanks so much for your help. i will continue investing in my starter