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Author Topic: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!  (Read 3825 times)

Offline ap269

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Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« on: September 15, 2010, 05:21:49 AM »
After I killed my starter, I tried to make a new one, this time following the directions for the liquid levain from Dan Leader's "Local Breads". It is REALLY liquid (starts with a 320% hydration), and the weird thing is that after 3 or 4 days it started smelling like sauerkraut. After 6 days, I dumped it because the sauerkraut smell was sooooooo intense. What do you guys think? Is this smell ok?
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Zeb

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2010, 02:34:45 AM »
Hi Andrea ! It might have settled down with more food over time.  I don't know the process you were following exactly.  Were you using wholewheat flour for food, or rye or some other flour? The wholegrain flours have more yeasts in them than refined white flour and are usually easier to make a starter with.  The sauerkraut smell is that a sulphur smell, something like rotten eggs? If you read around a little about beer making there is much talk about the different smells that yeast produce there and why, less so on the bread forums for some reason. This article is quite interesting about the different smells you can get and why in beer making, so quite similar to bread maybe http://morebeer.com/content/homebrew-off-flavors

Would you like some dried starter? I made some the other day following reading here :)
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline ap269

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 02:50:58 AM »
The sauerkraut smell is not like rotten eggs smell at all... Just like sauerkraut. Sour with a veggie note... I started the starter with whole wheat flour and a little bit of rye flour, and the following days I feeded it with bread flour. I'm going to give it another try, I think. I'll use Reinhart's version because that's what my first starter was and it was fine. I just wanted to try the Local Breads version because it seemed to be so easy... If I am not able to make a starter I'd like to take you up on your offer with the dried starter  :D.
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Paul

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 06:02:04 AM »
Might I steer you away from Reinhart's starter and point you in the direction of Debra Wink's "Pineapple Juice" starter? Follow along with me here and you'll avoid the dreaded "stinky starter" step and shave 3 or 4 days off getting your starter rolling.



Paul
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Offline ap269

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 06:11:43 AM »
Oh, Reinhart's version was a pineapple version, too... I must have a newer printing, because my friend Sara who has the BBA doesn't have the pineapple version in her book either. I was just thinking about re-sizing Reinhart's starter because it produces huge amounts  :laugh:
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Paul

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 06:37:25 AM »
I know Reinhart's latest book, Artisan Bread Every Day, has a pineapple juice version (which he credits to Ms Wink) but his process seems to still be very convoluted and, as you note, makes enough starter for an army. I wasn't aware they had reworked the BBA version; my copy (seems I have the 8th printing) has his old "barm" recipe that make like 5 gallons of the stuff... I'll have to look at a newer printing at a bookstore and see what's been updated.

Still, my recommendation is: Go with the source, Debra Wink's original version. Besides being what Reinhart bases his on, it is perfectly sized for a nice, small quantity where you don't end up tossing out cups of flour each day. She also includes a LOT of discussion of the whys and wherefores of what's going on in your flour soup, giving you a really good picture of the fascinating process of critter cultivation.

My "Step-by-Step Starter" is simply me keeping a visual record of following Debra Wink's directions and it's Debra Wink approved. :thumbup:

Paul
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Offline ap269

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2010, 09:31:44 AM »
If I interpret it right, I have the 9th printing of BBA (numbers from 09-17 on the bottom), and on page 229 it says to mix 1 cup coarse whole rye flour and 1/2 cup pineapple juice for the seed culture, and you add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup pineapple juice the second day, too. From day 3 on you add water. It's interesting that his seed culture is at 50% hydration, whereas yours is at 100%. In what way, do you think, this has an influence? Anyway, I just started 2 starters (one with whole-rye flour, the other one with whole-wheat flour) 2 hours ago following YOUR  :bow: guidelines - I'll keep you posted on the progress.  :woot:
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Paul

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 02:15:51 PM »
Yep, that would then be the 9th printing. So this is when they switched up the Starter instructions.

Why go with a stiff starter over a liquid starter? I dunno... It's the age old battle of stiff vs liquid and I still haven't heard a definitive reason why one is a better choice than the other. Keeping a stiff starter has it's own goals: longer time between feedings, more development of [either yeast or lacto] and so forth. Personally, I've used 100% simply because it's simple. Whether I use a 15g or 172g, I know that half of it is water and half flour. It's easy to calculate as part of a dough recipe.

Doesn't mean stiff starter isn't also equally viable or bring it's own positive aspects to the table.

But why Reinhart uses his ratio? And why he has decided to cut back the pineapple feed to 2 days instead of Debra Wink's 3 days? Something one would need to ask Mr Reinhart himself. Personally, I'll put my chips on Ms Wink as she is a biochemist and has put her starter work to test under actual laboratory analysis.

BUT THEN... people have been firing up starters for tens of thousands of years without fancy equipment or trying to lower pH levels and managing to get a starter out of the goo after all. So it would be inaccurate to think there's just "one way" to reach that goal.

Do keep track and let us know how your two babies work out though.
Paul
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Offline ap269

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2010, 03:45:53 AM »
I got my starters going, I think.  :thumbup: It's funny to see the difference between the rye starter and the wheat starter. Whereas the rye starter almost quadrupled on day 4 which is why I've started feeding it twice daily, the wheat starter is kinda slow, it rose about 50% on day 4 and seems to be totally satisfied with one feeding per day. Does that sound right?
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Paul

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2010, 08:18:44 AM »
Ummm... I dunno. I've never made a starter with Whole Wheat. BUT I'd bet it picks up to full blown doubling almost immediately; your critters are waking up, the environment it right for them now.

Your rye dude is ready to switch out to regular flour, unless you intend to keep it a "pure rye" starter. But definitely switch both guys off the juice and go to water - it will still take a few days and feeds to work the last of the juice out of it.

And you likely know this already so I'm pointing this out more for other people who are reading up on starters: You'll likely want to keep the daily or twice daily feeds going on the counter for a couple more weeks to give the starter(s) an opportunity to build up strength to fight off invasions and to get a good run at developing their own personal character. At 2 or 3 weeks, then you can start storing them in the fridge and feeding weekly instead.

So, do these baby starters have names yet? Do we get to see pictures?
Paul
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Offline ap269

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2010, 01:10:26 AM »
Oh, I did switch to water after day 3. My rye dude is behaving perfectly, whereas the wheat-dude decided to stop rising... I had a 50% rise on day 4, but after feeding it last night, there has been NO noticeable rise today in the morning (10 hours later). And no, no names yet. My previous starter didn't have a name either. I'm not really good at naming things: when I was a kid none of my dolls or teddy bears had names. They were just "doll" and "teddy bear". I might write a blog post about my starters, so there will be pictures in there.
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Paul

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2010, 05:23:28 AM »
Well, I'd suggest that the feed continue on Day Four mode until it has started to show a consistent rise. Since we know it's got activity and the pH has been adjusted so it has skipped the Stinky Stages, it's probably just a matter of waiting for things to develop further.

As for "why" it has decided to slow down, I'm really not sure. Since the rye starter is going well, that rather removes the issue of chemicals (i.e. chloramine) in the water and the room temp is obviously acceptable. The pH, as noted , should be about right. The only other aspect here would then be the flour and a lack of viable yeasties.

If in a few days there's still no real activity, I'd say toss a teaspoon of your rye starter in it to introduce known active culture.
Paul
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Offline ap269

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Re: Starter smells like sauerkraut???!!!
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2010, 05:31:13 AM »
Yes, I'll give it a couple more days. If it's still not active then, I'd just use whatever is left after feeding the rye starter and build up a wheat starter by feeding it with wheat flour. Maybe that works better...
Andrea (ap269)

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