The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough intolerance?

Babedia's picture

Sourdough intolerance?

Hi all,

I've often read this forum but never contributed. I finally registered so I could ask this question.

I made a sourdough starter a couple of years ago but only managed to bake a couple of loaves before I finally forgot to feed it and threw it again.

I finally got round to doing another one last week and I baked a gorgeous loaf yesterday. I had some for dinner (once it'd cooled down) and some for breakfast. It was very, very good, but an hour or so after breakfast I had horrible stomach cramps and it reminded me that the same had happened on the both occassions when I'd baked the sourdough a couple of years ago and that was the reason why I'd decided to throw the starter away.

I don't have any food intolerances. Is it possible to have an intolerance to sourdough? I've searched everywhere but I only find comments about it being more digestible than normal bread. Bizarre coincidence?

PaddyL's picture

I've never heard of that before.  I let mine develope for 7 days before using it and never had any problems.  The one sort of bread I cannot eat any more, be it sourdough or regular, is whole wheat.  Oatmeal, barley, rye, or straight white are all okay, but no whole wheat for me.  I find sourdough much easier to digest, but you never can tell what your insides can take or not.  It's just the nature of the beast - human, that is.

Babedia's picture

Oh, I'd never heard about waiting a month either, but I'm a real beginner so I'm just going for the few recipes I've read online and in the one book I have.

The starter is now in the fridge - should I take it out and continue the daily feeding for the full month?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

give you lots of gas.  So can sugar substitutes.  

A month? myth!  

Babedia's picture

No, not low on carbohydrates - normal diet. The good news is I just had a bit more about an hour ago and feeling alright. I really hope it's not the sourdough, now that I've dared to make it and it tasted so bloody good, I don't think I can bear not to eat it every week!

fancy4baking's picture

Yes i agree with what Gary said. This symptoms happened to me as i very eagerly used my sourdough in baking when it was just 8 days old.

And i had the same cramps, i waited on my SD and fed it for approx. a month and now i'm using it and it's all fine, and giving me breads i can't have enough of.


placebo's picture

You have to take a lot of "wisdom" you hear about sourdough with a grain of salt. This is a perfect example. I've heard from various sources you should let your new starter mature for 7 days, two weeks, or a month before baking the first loaf. Most of this is just people repeating what they read or heard elsewhere. It doesn't appear to be based on any hard data, though there may be explanations which sound plausible. So which is it, one, two, or four weeks — or perhaps even longer? Who knows. I'd be surprised if the youthfulness of your starter was the cause of your indigestion since it's my impression a lot of people, including me, have used young starters with no ill effects.

Still, I would still suggest you keep your starter out at room temperature and feed it twice daily for a while. (Note this is another one of those "facts." Some people say you can store the starter in the refrigerator after only a week. Others say two weeks, and yet others say a month.) The starter does seem to mature over time, and storing it in the refrigerator slows or prevents that process from occurring. You might find reading the comments to this blog post enlightening. Debra Wink notes that at about the two-week mark, she seems to notice a change to a starter's aroma, so letting it develop for at least two weeks sounds like a good idea.

In the end, though, you just need to find whatever works for you. 

mrfrost's picture

My sister was like this. Sourdough made her horribly sick.

Babedia's picture

Thanks all for your advice. I've taken the starter out of the fridge and will carry on feeding daily for atleast another week or two. I'm getting very confused with the amounts I need to feed with. In some places it says to have the same volume of starter, flour and water, in others the same weight, in others something completely different. I've just kept 1/3 cup of the starter and added 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup flour. Does this sound about right for feeding twice daily?

I'd also like to take the opportunity to ask another question. I'd like to have some bread ready for Saturday lunchtime but I'm going to be at work until about 4pm on Friday. Can someone help me with the timings? Sponge on Thursday evening, kneading before work on Friday, shape on Friday evening? Can I leave it in the fridge overnight and bake on Saturday morning?

placebo's picture

It's pretty common to maintain a 100%-hydration starter. That means it's fed equal parts of flour and water by weight. Roughly speaking, flour has a density about half that of water, so if you're measuring by volume, you'd have twice the volume of flour as water. Ideally, though, you'd use a scale to measure the amounts. (If you don't already have a scale, get one. It's probably the first things you should get for bread baking.)

Then there's the question of how much flour should you feed a given amount of starter. Most people here seem to recommend a 1:1 ratio of starter to flour at a minimum. That is, if you have 100 grams of starter, you should feed it 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water. Again, this is one of those questions where people seem to answer by asserting various figures they read elsewhere. I used to feed my starter enough to double the amount of starter, e.g. 100 grams of starter, 50 grams of flour, and 50 grams of water. It worked fine for me, but many here would claim I was starving and killing my starter. I've also seen some people here claim that you had to feed using a 1:5 or 1:10 ratio otherwise you were starving the starter. A 1:1 ratio seems to work fine for a lot of people, so it's probably a safe way to go.

A 1/3-cup of starter weighs, in my experience, about 85 grams. If you want to feed it using a 1:1 ratio, you want 85 grams of flour, or about 2/3 of a cup, and 85 grams of water, about 1/3 of a cup.

As far as the timing goes, it's hard to say. Sourdough timing can vary quite a bit. How long did the first rise take when you made your previous loaves? I'd worry that the dough will ferment too long while you're at work.

Babedia's picture

Thanks all for your comments and help. I took the starter out of the fridge and continued with the twice-daily feeding following a 1:1:1 ratio for the moment and I have to say it's already looking healthier than when I first made bread with it. I made some pancakes with the remnants yesterday instead of throwing it away and they tasted fab.

I've realised that different people have different methods and opinions on how to do this and I don't understand enough yet to make my own decisions so I've ordered a book which hopefully I can just follow for the moment until I'm confident to make my own tweaks and refinements. As I'm in the UK I've ordered Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf rather than Hamelman's book - it has very good reviews. Hopefully I'll be back in a few months' time to show off my perfect breads!


MangoChutney's picture

If the starter smells like cheap nail polish remover or some kind of paint solvent, it is starving.  Starving yeast starts to metabolize protein and smells ketonic, just like the breath of human dieters who are starving themselves.  If the starter smells like alcohol, it isn't necessarily starving.  It was just sealed well.  In the absence of oxygen, yeast makes alcohol.  That is part of why fermenting fruit juice is sealed from the air by a waterlock.