The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough smells weird

Athena53's picture

Sourdough smells weird


 I just recently started a new sourdough starter( It's the Finland Sourdough Culture from Sourdoughs International), which had been sitting in the fridge, unopened, for at least 2 years, maybe longer. I've had it going for about a week, and from the beginning it had an odd and unpleasant smell, sort of like wet paper. We have a different sourdough that's been in use for a few years, and its never smelled like this.I'm currently "washing" it( stir, dump all but one cup of starter, add 3/4 cup water and 1 cup flour. Stir again and dump all but one cup, feed again and put in a warm place.) I've done this twice so far, about once every 12 hours, in the hopes that it will remove the smell. Is this normal for this type of starter, or has something bad invaded? Thanks!



Ford's picture

I noticed an off-aroma (like salt-rising bread dough) when I started with whole-wheat flour and water alone.  Debra Wink[1] discovered this was due to a strain of bacteria called leuconostoc that seems to be more prevalent in flour now than it was formerly.  This bacterium is self-destructive as it produces acid that inhibits its growth.  Apparently, the bacteria are not harmful. 

Using pineapple juice as the liquid in the early stages of developing the starter gives enough acidity to prevent the leuconostoc growth phase.

 At your stage of developing the starter, I suggest you just keep on with the process.  Eventually the odor will go away. Ford

[1] Bread Lines, a publication of The Bread Bakers Guild of America. Vol. 16, Issue 1, March 2008

also --

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of the original.  My advice would be to start over.  But leave the mixture alone more, stop feeding and diluting daily.  Too much fussing around does not help.  

Getting a starter started is not the same as maintaining an established wet starter.  When ever the starter is dehydrated, it needs to go thru beginner baby steps, slowly, no additional feedings until yeast activate.  Washing only dilutes and delays the natural process.   Start Fresh and start over.