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.
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?