The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Working on my first starter...........need some serious help.

Cara's picture

Working on my first starter...........need some serious help.

I have been baking bread for a few weeks now.  I don't have anything special to make it with, just use a bowl, my hands, and a I make about 4-5 loafs a week about one a day.

Anyway I am making an attempt to start a starter for sourdough.  About 4 days ago I started making this starter itwas okay the first day (it says to feed it only one a day).  The second day it had some nasty fluid on top and smelled REALLY REALLY grose, sort of like nasty spit-up from a baby.........  When i went to feed it again I just stirred it back in and fed it again.  When i stir in the feeding i see a bunch of bubbles, but I don't know if it's doubling in size or not.  It is about the consistancy of thick pancake batter.  So today I took out about 2T of it and tossed it, then added the next feeding.  I also started it with unbleached all purpose flour (organic).  Today i finally got some stone ground whole wheat and fed it with that (hopefully i didn't hurt anything).  My question is do you think it's doing what it should?  It keeps getting that fluid on top.  Should I feed it more than once a day?  I have also been leaving it out on the counter in the kitchen (probably abou 75-80 degrees).  Should I just throw it away?  There are bubbls forming on top a lot of them.  I'm just worried that it's so liquid.


Since I was worried about this starter.............i went ahead and tried starting another one with the wheat flour.  I used this recipe  It is entirely different!  it's kind of dry, and not soupy at all.  It says to feed it twice a day.  Should I start removing half of it this early?  Or should I wait until it doubles in size............. IDK this all kind of baffles me.


I found o a pic of someones starter on this yes, mine looks absolutely NOTHING like that (well they are both

Kent's picture

Just follow the instructions given on the Sourdoughhome web site. I made my starter over a year ago following the same web sites instructions.Have been baking very good bread with it weekly. Mike the owner of the web site also has posted information on maintaining and caring for our starter.


dulke's picture

I'd stick with the more liquid one - starter should not be dry. The liquid is called hooch - it's a sign that the food value of the flour is exhausted and the yeasties are hungry. If you go too long between feeding, the starter will become more sour, but also somewhat weaker - less rising power. I sounds like you should be feeding yours twice or three times a day.

 When making a new starter, I discard half of it and then replenish. You otherwise will have way too much starter. I stir the hooch back in, if I have any. The smell you describe ound ok to me, but I can imagine it's might be a surprise if you've not experienced it.

Cara's picture

so i should feed the liquid one more often?  should I be removing some of it?  Should I keep up the 2T flour to 1 1.5T water ratio? or should I increase it?

 lots of questions I know.

LindyD's picture

Cara, I think you should stick with Mike Avery's starter (he runs sourdough home), and do follow his instructions.

I read the Packman instructions and was surprised to see that he calls for adding flour and water for seven days, but never discards anything. No wonder you were getting hootch (the liquid).  That starter is starving.

You could keep your Packman version going, but I'd dump at least 75% of it, then feed it.   I'd also toss a bit of rye in the mix and lower the hydration.  Keep in mind that it's going to take more than just a few days to develop a tasty, reliable starter.  And that you must discard part of the starter each time you feed it. 

Have fun - and patience!

Cara's picture

Will mikes eventually thin out?  I fed it tonight and thre half of it away. 

After tossing some of the other, tonight it didn't have much hooch on it at all.  I fed it the wheat flour and same water (hadn't read your post yet).  After stiring it all together it started getting a lot of bubbles on top, i could hear them popping.......and i swear i saw the liquid in that thing moving around

SourdoLady's picture

Any bubbles that you see in the first few days of beginning a new starter are not from yeast, but bacteria. Usually around day 5 to 7 the yeast will wake up and start to grow. It sounds to me like that is where you are at now. Continue to discard and feed twice a day for about another week before you use it for baking. I'll bet by tomorrow it will really start looking lively.