The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Starter Smells Like Acetone

CD's picture
CD

My Starter Smells Like Acetone

 

     

 

My starter is 7 weeks old. I've had this issue for a few weeks. I know this is because it's underfed but I can't seem to fix it. it's very active. It rises and fall, and has lots of bubbles. I had another post on here and someone said to 1:1.5:2 (starter:water:flour) once a day. I have been doing that by the next morning the smell is back. it does seem to be a bit better but still noticeable. It's never passed a float test and doing this method the starter is very very sticky and thick. What do I need to do to get ready for baking? I assume I shouldn't bake with it smelling like that. Once I fix the smell how long until I can move it to the refrigerator and feed it weekly? any information about that part of the process would also be awesome.

 

Thanks in advance

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

i'm not sure i know the smell of acetone. but it's probably alcohol that you smell. a byproduct of the fermentation. it means that your starter is ripe.  if you taste it, it should be acidic too.

i usually do a 2:5:5 feed with rye flour and it takes about 16 hours to smell really strong.  i'll bake with it anywhere between 10 - 16 hours.    1:1.5:2 you may need to feed every 12 hours if its warm.  (and the 1.5 : 2 throws off your ratio.  it's not 100% hydration that most recipes look for.)

if your starter doubles in volume but does not float, you should be ok. just dont let it get too acidic.

CD's picture
CD

Acetone is the smell of nail polish remover, pint thinner, or that toy that came with some gunk in a tube and a straw and you had to pit the stuff on the end of the straw and you have to inflate it was called loonie ballonies. It's a very chemical smell.

andykg's picture
andykg

Acetone smell is due to it being hungry, give it a feed. When you feed it the smell will go or will be hardly noticeable.

Not all starters float, if it doubles, has bubbles and looks active, you can use it.

My rye starter is sticky and thick, never floats but still works.

CD's picture
CD

I know it's from being under fed. and it's had this smell for weeks. It goes away when I feed it but it comes back fast. I fed it twice a week for 2 weeks no dice. I started to increase the flour no go. Should I go back to 1:1:1 and just use it smelling like that?

phaz's picture
phaz

Best bet is to take a small amount of the stinky starter, like a teaspoon, let use grams to make the math easier, 20g starter and mix with 100g flour and 60g water. Just leave it till it shows lots of activity then repeat. The smell will go away, but it will take some time. An active starter will need a minimum of a 122 feed at least once a day at room temp. That same feed can last a week if stored in the fridge. If using once a week and it's been in the fridge, give it 2 days normal feeding at room temp before using. 

Enjoy!

CD's picture
CD

Thank you for responding this makes a lot of sense.

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

I had the same problem and started feeding 1:5:5, and after two days my starter smelled sweet, no more acetone. 

CD's picture
CD

Oh awesome. Did you stay at that ratio forever and did you move yours to the refrigerator? 

Thanks!

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

Once it was very active and had no more acetone smell, I Switched to maintain it at 1:2:2 (10g starter, 20g flour (10g WW + 10g BF), 20g water). I leave it on the counter for about 2 hours after feeding, then put it in the fridge. 

HansB's picture
HansB

Just feed it 1:1:1 every twelve hours, room temp.