How can i slow down the starter from doubling


Thank you farinam for your valuable comments , i especially liked the part  'listen' to the dough...i will when i reach that part....i hope i can express myself better this time , i started my starter as follow ; 1/3 white flour 1/3 whole wheat 1/3 parley flour and 2/3 warm water and added 1/2 teaspoon honey and homemade barley starch with a room temp. 25 c. (77 F.) ...i started to stabilize  the culture by taking one table spoon of the same starter and feed it only white flour 1/2 cup and 1/4 of cool water and the same thing is happening is doubeling in size after one hour..i did this twice so far there other methods to stabilize concedering what I'm doing is right?..if you allow me another contaminated starter will also produce bubbles and double in size?and what about the very storng alcohol smell? best regards to all


farinam's picture
farinam 2012 August 26

Hello Toba,

What you have been doing sounds just fine.  Your room temperature should also be absolutely fine (almost ideal in fact).

One of the reasons that starter development methods recommend running for a week to ten days is that the balance of yeasts and bacteria change over time as one or the other dominates before being taken over by another and eventually the population settles down to a stable balance.  This balance is usually then very robust and will endure all sorts of 'neglect' and survive in good form.  That is why I suggested that you need to persist.  As the culture matures, it might also reduce its activity.  And besides, some people would kill to get hold of a highly active brew.

A smell of alcohol/vinegar is not necessarily a problem  as alcohol/acids are waste products of the yeast/bacterial activity.  A smell of acetone (nail polish remover like) is a bit more serious but often this only lasts for a day as the starter goes through one of its phases.  If the acetone smell persists for longer periods then I would be inclined to start again.  If the mixture smells really really bad (putrid) then you definitely should start again

Good luck with your projects.


PS.  Keep on in the same thread by using the new comment or reply options rather than starting a new thread as you seem to have done this time.  Unless of course you want to start a completely new topic.  F.

toba 2012 August 26

Dear farinam,

Since you have the paciance to comment with me, i can not exept having the paciance to 'persist ' which i thank you for that. Concerning the smell is more like alcoho l / viniger smell , but the taste is quiet bitter ( not sour ), is that normal ? what is the life expectancy of the yeast / bacteria ( the same one not new production ) they say that they double in number every one hour, how many dies in that same hour and does the dead ones produce any special smell ?....if my starter being invaded by wild or unwanted bacteria will it also be this active...

Many thanks for your kind replies

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 August 26

Hello toba,

All of the flora and fauna in your starter are 'wild'.  Even bakers yeast is wild - it has just been specially selected and concentrated into a pure form so that it is highly and reliably active and that is why bread with bakers yeast only takes a couple of hours.  What is in the sourdough culture is a mixture of all sorts and might or might not contain a predominant active variety.  It sound as if yours might have a dominant active variety at the moment.  This balance could change as the culture becomes more mature and balanced.

The acids, normally lactic but also including acetic, and alcohol are part of the byproduct of the yeast and bacterial activity as well as carbon dioxide that gives you the bubbles of gas that cause the dough to rise during proving and that expand further during baking to give the oven spring.  Normally, the smell of the culture should be quite subtle often with a sweet yeasty smell and just a hint of the acids.  The taste of the culture can be quite astringent (mouth puckering) but when the starter is mixed with the larger amounts of flour and water to make the dough this effect is much diluted and the finished bread can be relatively 'sweet'.  Some people prefer to try to encourage some degree of sourness in the finished loaf but this is not essential.  The term 'sour' in sourdough refers to the culture  that is used to leaven the bread rather than to the taste of the bread.

Keep feeding your baby following the directions in SourDoms blog for another week and see how things are going then.

Good luck with your projects.


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