The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Managing starter flavour

SorryLobster's picture

Managing starter flavour

Hey there,

I have a starter (45 days old) that is starting to develope some wonderful flavour. Each loaf is more complex and beautiful , HOWEVER...

The sour notes are and have been always far too strong for my (and anyone's) tastes. Is there anyway to melllow it out?

I have changed the hydration levels from 100% to 80, 75, back to 100 and this did not improve. it has been fed consistently with unbleached all purpose flour and tap water that has been boiled and allowed to cool completely (I keep a jar of such water on hand; this is my cheap way of 'purifying' the water). I do live in an area with slightly hard but very drinkable water. I have considered using some rye flour and buying a water purifier but if there are other suggestions for managing starter flavours please inform me. Many thanks


sournewb71's picture

-Feed your starter more often.

-Feed it before it is fully ripe.

PiPs's picture

A couple of questions and ideas ...

We may also need to tell us about the bread formula and how you are maintaining your starter.

- How often do you feed it?

- What inoculation/ratio do you feed it?

- What temperature is it kept at?

-How long is the starter fermented before making bread with it?

- How much starter does the formula ask for?

- How does the starter smell before making bread with it?

- What flours are you using in your bread formula?

- Why are you purifying your water?

I think adding rye flour will take it further into the realms of sourness. The basic premise is that you may need to feed it more often as soon as it has doubled ... but ... I think we need to see where you are at before recommending changes.


Craig_the baker's picture
Craig_the baker

I feed my starter 1:1:1 with 50g starter,25g bread flour and 25g rye flour. And I let it sit on the counter. Room temp is in the 70's right now in Florida. I feed it once a day and thats it. The day before I plan to make my levain, I feed it 2 times at 12 hr interval to pep it up slightly. Its not sour at all. It always rises well.    


SorryLobster's picture

I generally feed the starter once-a-day (not at a consistent time but no closer than 12 hrs apart) unless I plan to bake with it then I will feed it twice the day before. A couple of days after baking I get tired of the thought of feeding it everyday so I sleep it in the fridge and feed it twice a week. The temperature is in the mid sixties in my house. The starter smells sour before entering bread making stage though I usually use up to 1 1/2 cups in a two loaf recipe. I recently poured off the liquid that forms on top (I usually stir this in), thinking I will trash it and start anew, but had a change of heart at the last minute and fed the remaining starter. I plan to feed more regularly and perhaps introduce rye flour. I am hoping that it is yet a young starter and will come in to its own with more love.

Fred Rickson's picture
Fred Rickson

Part of a cup of your starter is just a minor part of a build.  How you develop a dough (temp,  hydration, duration of build) will have everything to do with the final loaf and its flavor characteristics.  Do it all in the fridge to cut down on acid level.


SorryLobster's picture

I have been feeding my starter more regularly, at a lower hydration level and keeping it in the fridge and it seems to have toned down in sour smell. I have yet to build with it. It is on the counter now two days before I start a loaf, we shall see what results are. I fed it this morning, slowly decreasing hydration by minor increments. The starter is sticky as I like it (if this is normal) but when I went to feed it a second time today it was more liquidy and less sticky. Yeast eating more quickly since being warmed-up? I shouldn't expect differences in loaf. I wish there was a 'dipstick test' for starter flavour. How convenient. I will be using a variation of pain l'ancienne and pro-longed cold proofing. All fermentation is cold. stay tuned. thanks for the advice!