The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter - Ready or Not???

frankwpolk's picture
frankwpolk

Sourdough Starter - Ready or Not???

 

Hello baking world!  My apologies for coming so late to the baking game.

I come to this site, new to bread baking, and I’m starting with Sourdough due to the needs of gluten intolerant family members who are able to tolerate sourdough breads.

I have a question for those of you with much more experienced than I have.  How do I know when my starter is ready to be used in a bread project?  As best I can tell, everything is going well with the starter.  However, it doesn’t smell like a sourdough.  It barely has a smell at all!  The smell that it does have is very mild.

BACKGROUND:

I initiated my sourdough starter 14 days ago, with a 100 gram 50/50 mix of flour and water.  I’m using King Author’s 100% Whole Grain Whole Wheat Flour, and bottled 100% Natural Spring Water.  As instructed by by several sites, I discarded 50 grams of starter and incorporated 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water every 24 hours for the first 4 days.  By the end of day 4 my starter would rise with bubbles like I saw on many sourdough starter posts.  From day 5 on, for the next 8 days, I reduced my starter by 100 grams, and replaced it with 100 grams of a 50/50 helping of fresh flour and water every 24 hours to keep it fed.  From initiation through all 14 days of maintenance I’ve kept my starter in a glass container, loosely covered by cheesecloth and the container’s glass top, allowing the container to breath.

Presently I’m maintaining 300 grams of starter.  It seems to rise as expected, about 2/3 is more than its original volume, which is almost doubled.  I can see bubbles through the side of the container, and some coming up through the top of the starter.  Each time I stir down the starter, in preparation for its daily feeding, the consistency of the starter is a sticky, springy, spongy paste.  Stirring beats it back down to a slightly more runny goo and feeding starts the process all over again.

The starter seems to be everything I believe I should expect of a sourdough starter, except for the lack of a sourdough smell.  It smells more like a fresh cup of 50/50 flour and water just stirred up, than a starter that has been growing for 14 days.

Am I missing something??? Shouldn’t it have a sour smell by now?  How do I know when my starter is ready to be used?

 

Frank

 

 

 

hreik's picture
hreik

and seems like you have a nice starter.  Imho, it's too soon for that nice sour odor.  Mine took a long time b/f it smelled sour.  How long?.... sorry I have no idea.  I was able to bake bread with it, but of course it wasn't all that sour.  It was likely 3 + months b/f mine was sour enough to really smell nicely.

hester

 

frankwpolk's picture
frankwpolk

 

Thanks Hester!  If I manage to get another rise out of my starter tomorrow morning I’ll put it in a new loaf and see what the day brings.

 

hreik's picture
hreik

to seeing your loaf/ loaves.  It should make fine bread.  Just remember to save some and feed it for your next bake.... obvious... but early on I almost forgot to take that into account.  So my final build is always more than I need for a loaf............ both because some always sticks to the jar and is irretrievable and b/c you need some to keep around and feed.

Good luck on your bake.

hester

David R's picture
David R

Starters don't walk or quack, so they shouldn't be identified as ducks ☺️, but if your blob of goo acts like a starter, then it is one.

 

Presence of a terrible smell is definitely a sign to throw it away, but absence of a good smell is not very important.

frankwpolk's picture
frankwpolk

Thanks David!

Definitely not going bad.  I can tell a BAD egg a mile away.  Gonna try it tomorrow!