The Fresh Loaf

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Troubleshooting a new starter

ecassidy13's picture

Troubleshooting a new starter

Hi everyone,

Long time user, but new to posting on the site. It's been a number of years since I made a sourdough. Apologies in advance for the long post, I'm hoping more detail might help with a diagnosis! My last sourdough starter was an all white bread flour and I never had any issues with it, and it was good to go within about a week.

I've decided to make a new starter. This time, I started by using 90% white bread flour and 10% rye every 24 hours. Unfortunately it hasn't been smooth sailing so far. I've been holding off on using the starter to bake a loaf until its rising and falling regularly and has a 'fruity' smell.

It was maybe day 6 before I had rising and falling which was taking nearly 24 hours to reach its peak, but the starter had a very pungent smell of parmesan cheese. After doing some reading, I thought it may be hungry, which was leading to the smell so I upped the feedings to every 12 hours from day 9. This reduced the smell (although not completely) but its now not rising and falling very much at all.

I then wondered if it was too warm where it was (small shelf beside a Rayburn range) so I returned to 1 feeding every 24 hours from day 11 and moved it to a slightly cooler spot. I'm now on day 13, and feeding on a 1:1:1 ratio every 24 hours. It isn't rising very much anymore (although there are some bubbles) and still smells slightly of cheese. I don't think I've killed it but I'm hoping a much more experienced baker may have come across this and know whats going on in there. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much!

Abe's picture

Another 1:1:1 feed but this time with 100% pure pineapple juice and some wholegrain flour. Give it a very good stir and leave in a warm place preferably 75-78F. Do not feed again till you see significant activity. Instead stir twice a day. 

clevins's picture

Water and temp? And is it very liquid or is it pretty stiff? 

Dave Cee's picture
Dave Cee

In a suitable clean container place 10 grams of your smelly starter, 10 grams of bottled water and 25 grams of your flour mix and stir well. Cover loosely, place in a warm-not-hot location, do not disturb and check at 12 hour intervals. Report back with your observations.