The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter - What am I doing wrong

sjungdahl's picture

Starter - What am I doing wrong

I used Forkish's book to make a starter before and kept it for some time Unfortunately a hospital stay and it was gone. For some reason I can't seem to get another starter going. I Know its winter but I have a warm spot to keep it.

Day one - Followed instructions

Day two - it look and smelled great (followed instructions)

Day three - somewhat runny and foul smelling, definitely not a beer like smell. Followed instructions anyways.

This is my third attempt at getting a new starter going.

I use King Arthur 100% Whole Grain Whole Wheat (14%)

The measured temp where I keep it is 72-75 degrees. It is on top of heat venting but its insulated from direct contact with vent metal.

Any suggestions PLEASE!!!

I miss my bread. Besides, just got a new oven.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What am I doing wrong?   ...might be rushing it.  Under 75°F may take two weeks.

Try using warmer water getting the starter up to high 80's the first 24 hours to get past the first stinky bacterial stages. (Or try using unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water until yeast show up. This adds a little acid to the mix.)  Try to stay above 75°F for better progression after the initial warmth.  The little beasties know it's winter and want to be cozy.  If you're around, tuck them into your vest pocket and give them your body warmth and a heartbeat,  and sing a little.... " you are my sunshine,  my only sunshine..."

Count cool nights as minus half a day.  :) 

sjungdahl's picture

Thanks for the reply. I will continue on!!

Not sure about the vest pocket, that would require I purchase a vest.

DanAyo's picture

Sjung, It sounds like your starter was acting normally. It is very common for bad bacteria to flourish in the early stages of starter building. Once the good bacteria start getting active the bad (foul smelling ones will be overtaken and eradicated. If you still have some of it continue feeding it.

Study the contents of this link and also the referenced Part 2 link in it. Debra Wink is our resident micro biologist and is an authority on the subject.

Keep the faith, and don’t throw out the starter.


sjungdahl's picture

Great info!!!

Kristinaua's picture

I kept my starter in the oven with the light on for 5 days, so it had the same temperature. Also, I used rye flour and when the starter was ready, I started to feed it with the all purpose. additionally, water can make a huge difference. I would advice you to get Smart Water if you are not sure with the quality of the one you use.