September 25, 2018 - 11:21am
Help! For no clear reason my starter smells bad and has lost its strong rise
I have been keeping a sourdough starter for several years, and typically I have had good luck getting a good, predictable rise, feeding once per day. I leave the starter out on the counter. A few weeks ago, I bulked up the starter to make a batch of pancakes (normally I take just a tbsp when I bake to get the leaven going) and I noticed a day or two after the pancakes a pungent, abnormal smell. I went back to regular feedings just as I have always done, but the smell remains, and activity has dropped. The starter still bubbles, but it is sluggish and there is no perceptible rise. I tried switching to white flour for a while, thinking this might kick start it, but no effect. I tried lengthening the time between feedings and shortening the time between feedings. No perceptible change. Next I tried reviving a bag of starter I'd dried and frozen about a year ago. I kept it on the opposite side of the kitchen to avoid contamination, and it did well for a week or so and then has taken on the same foul pattern of the other. I'm afraid some nefarious organism is wreaking havoc in there, and I'm feeling at a loss to figure out how to restore the harmonious balance. Sourdough sorcerers, I call on you skill. What can I do?