The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ok... so I dont know what Im doing and I need help :P

rikki_n_taysia's picture
rikki_n_taysia

Ok... so I dont know what Im doing and I need help :P

Poor thing, I have a feeling I'm not making it happy.

We're on Day 5 and last night I noticed an alcohol type of smell.. Today its pretty strong, but not "blow-you-away" strong.

I started it with whole wheat oragnic flour and water in a clean jar (jar is not so much anymore)... I feed 2x a day 1 part water, one part flour.  Now I am using just white flour. My house is somewhat warm, not freezing.

I do notice rising, but I dont know if more should be happening and whats going on with this smell...

I heard about that sometimes when making your first starter there might be a point that you think something is wrong and you dump it because you think its not right but its just a "phase."  I dont know about the smell tho!

^^^Day 4 (and what is this stuff? I heard about hooch, but its in the middle, not on top)

^^^ Day 5, morning before feeding (Dont worry, I cleaned my jar)<<gross

I see stuff going on... Too much liquid?

Thanks a lot! :)

G-man's picture
G-man

Are you using one part flour one part water by weight or volume?

rikki_n_taysia's picture
rikki_n_taysia

By volume..  Ive been researching sourdough starters and I hear so many different ways of starting one and what seems like 1000's of different methods so I took a stab at it lol... So, I guess I wouldnt know how it would turn out if I didnt try, but I'm super confused lol...

G-man's picture
G-man

What you're seeing is most likely separation. We'll take a cup of water to be approximately 236g in weight (because the weight of water is relatively stable). By comparison, a cup of flour can vary quite a lot, but tends to be closer to 120-150g. That's nearly twice as much water as flour, which is a really wet starter indeed.

My advice is twofold. One, cut the amount of water you're using in half, making it so you're using twice the volume of flour as you are water. Two, consider getting a scale. It is vastly easier to troubleshoot any issues that come up if you're measuring with near-perfect accuracy. You'll never get that sort of accuracy with volume measurements.

 

Good luck.

rikki_n_taysia's picture
rikki_n_taysia

Thanks a bunch!  I will go get a scale today!  As far as the alcohol smell? Could this be due to it being too wet? 

G-man's picture
G-man

You're getting an alcohol smell because your yeast are starving. They consume carbohydrates and produce CO2 and ethanol. Bread bakers uses the CO2 (for the rise) and brewers use the ethanol. Since you're getting the alcohol smell it's a telltale sign that you're letting your yeast sit a bit too long, so their waste is building up. Pour off the liquid and begin feeding your starter with equal parts water and flour and the smell should tone down a bit.

In any event, after about a week or two (when you get some real rise, or some genuine bubbling) you'll want to switch to two feedings a day at least. The alcohol smell should go away almost entirely as long as you stick to that feeding schedule. It may come back if you store your starter for a while between feedings, but isn't really anything to be concerned about.

Let me say that a slightly different way to dispell any confusion. This is perfectly normal. When you start to see regular activity, increase your feedings and the smell (if it's still around after the switch to equal parts flour and water) should go away. Until then, don't worry about it.

rikki_n_taysia's picture
rikki_n_taysia

Ok, that helps a lot.  I will make sure and get a scale and keep feeding.  I just didn't want to dump it, there is definitely some activity happening but the smell and liquid put me off a little.

Thanks!

 

UPDATE:

So I got the scale and on next feeding it was definitely thicker and doubled beautifully :) Thank you!