[Sca-cooks] Question about sourdough starter

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Thu Jul 16 12:30:34 PDT 2009

 I'm making some sourdough starter right now and it

has been sitting, covered by a towel for a couple of

days. It is now nearly doubled in volume and foamy

which it is supposed to be. But it doesn't smell yeasty

and sour, it smells more like a sharp cheese. Is this

normal or has it gone bad?


Smells vary, but in my experience, when a starter goes bad it smells bad, 
the color of the starter darkens, the surface forms a scum or a crust and 
alcohol puddles on the surface.  If it is really bad, you get visible green 
or red mold.  Without seeing it, I can't give you a definitive answer, but 
if you think it truly looks or smells bad, you might want to get rid of it.

The lactobacilli are the souring agent in the starter, so the sharp cheese 
odor might be normal.  My starters tend to have little odor or fill the 
kitchen with an alcoholic tang.

Your starter sounds very active, so you might want to start feeding it. 
Starters go bad when the fermentation goes dormant.  The more active the 
starter, the faster it will go dormant.  Yours sounds like a starter that 
might need a small feeding every twelve hours or so.  Usually, the starter 
gets fed once a day, but the current heat and humidity might support a 
faster mold infection than normal.


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