The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Smelly Starter?

verve76's picture

Smelly Starter?

Hi there,

 I'm new here and I'm new to making starter.

 I started making the starter using Sourdolady's directions. I'm now into Day 8.

 This morning the starter smell really bad like vomit. Nevertheless, I still took out 1/4 cup starter and fed it 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.

 I'm not sure what's happening to it or how I can save it.

 Any help or advise is much appreciated.

SourdoLady's picture

How has the starter been behaving? Has it shown signs of growth? When you feed it does it bubble up and expand and then recede after several hours?

It is very unusual for the bad bacteria to take hold in the pineapple juice/flour mixture. If you are on day 8 you have switched to water by now. I would go back to pineapple juice for two or three more days and see what happens. Stir the starter vigorously several times a day and do the discard and feed every 12 hours instead of 24. 

How warm is the room in which you have the starter? This time of the year it can get pretty warm if you don't have AC and that will encourage bad bacterial growth.

Good luck and keep us posted how it goes.

verve76's picture

Thanks Sourdolady for you fast response.


Yes, I've switched to water.

 On Day 3, there became sort of foamy and it smell nice like in yeasty.

Day 4,5,6 all smell ok and it doubled.

Only happened this morning, that it smell like vomit.

I currently in South-East Asia which is warm all year round.

Should I discard it and start all over or should I feed it with pineapple juice and monitor?


SourdoLady's picture

I would give it a few more days before you start over. Switch back to the pineapple juice, do the discard and feed twice a day and stir it often. Oh, and have you tried adding the 1/4 tsp. vinegar? That will help control the bad bacteria also.

T4tigger's picture

I have a similar question.   I started a new batch of starter on Monday using 20g Bob's Red Mill organic dark rye flour and 20g water.  (Previously I've just used store brand medium rye flour)  I stored it in a small canning jar with the regular metal lid and ring.   The temperature in my kitchen is between 78-80 degrees.

By yesterday evening it had doubled itself, so I stirred it down and put it back in it's spot on the fridge.   This morning when I took the lid off to feed it, it had a very strong, almost rancid odor.  I fed it on a 1:1:1 ratio, and exchanged the metal jar lid for a piece of cheese cloth to see if it just needs to get some air.  If the smell continues, I'm going to dump it and try again.

Can I surmise that the smell could be a result of the dark rye flour just having different properties than the rye flour I used before?    Thanks for any and all help!


SourdoLady's picture

Rye flour ferments rather quickly. What you are experiencing is probably just bacteria growing (which is normal) and not the yeast. You should switch to pineapple juice or orange juice instead of water for the first few days. The acid in the juice keeps the bacteria at bay and lowers the pH so the yeast can get a foothold and start to grow.

Here is a link to my blog, which explains the whole process: