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Sourdough makers, what should my starter smell like please?

(9 Posts)
SpringForEver Fri 25-Jan-19 18:37:32

I have nurtured and feed and the float test is OK but the smell is like wallpaper paste (not surprising I suppose considering paste is often made from flour and water).

I fed for several days with spelt flour as I want to make spelt bread, but due to the smell I changed to white flour, after feeding it smells a bit yeasty but then reverts back to the paste smell. I threw away the liquid from the top before the last 3 feeds.

I was hoping to make bread tonight/tomorrow but don't want to waste the time and ingredients if there is something else I need to do, please can anyone help?

Also, is it OK to use a Snugglesafe pet heat pad to keep it warm?

OP’s posts: |
Whatdoyouknowwhenyouknownowt Fri 25-Jan-19 18:39:28

Don't think that's ok.

It should be a yeast, slightly alcoholic smell.

Lots of bubbles when active. Rye is good as starter.

SpringForEver Fri 25-Jan-19 19:07:26

I bought the starter and it was fine. Thought it might be the spelt making it smell odd - and bubbles were good.

The house is quite cold at night and I kept it in the fridge for a week before bringing it back to life.

I didn't want to buy rye flour as I won't use it up, having bought a rye sourdough loaf which was horrible.

Was wondering about adding some yeast?

OP’s posts: |
Whatdoyouknowwhenyouknownowt Fri 25-Jan-19 19:24:10

I had a bought one I put in the fridge and it died. Had others that were fine, I think it's a bit random. You are supposed to be able to freeze starter.

It's a very particular smell. Did it smell before you put it in the fridge?

Maybe try another couple of feeds?

I'd have a google about adding yeast, as I know people do all sorts. But I wouldn't as it defeats the point of the wild yeasts for me.

Whatdoyouknowwhenyouknownowt Fri 25-Jan-19 19:24:57

I do use spelt but not in my starter, which is why I don't know if it would upset the starter.

SpringForEver Fri 25-Jan-19 23:20:37

Apparently it now smells like beer making yeast so is probably going to be OK. I had to get a second opinion. It has smelled the same since I started feeding it, I read that it smells like that until it matures so perhaps should have just waited another week.

I fed it with some different flour and a little bit of yeast and put it on a heat pad. Fed it again with some organic spelt flour and it is frothy. It isn't going to be all natural yeast but at least it is still alive. I will see how I get on with baking and if I can get to that stage I will start again with a new starter when the weather is a bit warmer.
I can't believe how much flour is needed to do all this.

Thank you for your help.

OP’s posts: |
Whatdoyouknowwhenyouknownowt Fri 25-Jan-19 23:57:46

No probs. That's how mine smells. Apparently rye is more bubbly than white...

I'm following Dan Lepards instructions. So room temp but my house is colder than his! I made pancakes with the spare, as I don't like discarding starter.

ScienceIsTruth Sat 26-Jan-19 00:17:50

I made my starter using Paul Hollywood's method and as of now it's 5 yrs 3 months old. They're actually pretty hardy things, and quite difficult to kill.
I use Hugh FW recipe to make bread as I find using a sponge helps activate the starter when it's been in the fridge, as you leave it overnight to ferment, so it warms up.

It should smell like yeasty beer, if it smells like acetone, it's starving and needs a feed desperately.

You don't need to pour the liquid layer off, you can just mix it back in and feed as usual. When you've fed it leave it out for at least a few hours so it has time to reactivate, warm up and feed.

I tend to put mine back in the fridge after it's almost doubled in size after being fed. I'll pour off what I need for my recipe (if I haven't already done so), and then put the rest back in the fridge.

If it regularly gets that layer of liquid on top then you need to feed more often to keep it in good health.

I fed mine rye as a treat, but generally stick with ordinary organic strong bread flour. I wouldn't just use spelt or something as the main source of feeding as they can be more temperamental.

I keep my starter pretty plain and then use spelt or rye (or whatever) when I'm making a loaf, rather than adding that to the actual starter, iyswim.

ScienceIsTruth Sat 26-Jan-19 00:24:28

Don't add commercial yeast to the actual starter as you'll kill the wild yeast off.

You can add it to the loaf you're making if your starter doesn't seem robust/strong enough, or if you want it to rise quicker.

It's not something I do very often, but I have tried it a few times over the years; usually when I've starved the starter for too long and I'm trying to feed it back to health, so I'll feed every 12 hrs and use the discard to prevent waste (once it's had a few feeds).

As it's not strong enough at first to rise the bread alone, I'll add extra yeast to help the loaf rise.

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