Fix for unappealing flavor?


I'm a new baker, been working with Carl's 1847 starter for about a year.  Can't say when this started -- might have been from the very beginning -- but anything I make with my Carl's starter has a mildly unpleasant taste.  Its taste is a litle chalky, and a little like the smell of a soured damp washcloth.  It isn't overwhelming but it isn't especially pleasant to eat by itself, so all I use it  for is sandwich rolls (the flavor of the condiments and cured meats covers it up).  Worst of all, it just doesn't emit that wonderful "Hhmmm, fresh baked bread!" aroma.

I know different starters have different characters, so one option is trying another starter, but Carl's is pretty popular stuff.  If it was the fault of the starter itself, I would think I would have heard other reports of the same concern.  Might my rehydration method have been at fault?  Or could the way I'm managing it be at fault?  In pursuit of the perfect level of sourness, I've gone everywhere from feeding 4x a day to feeding once every two weeks.

One reason I'm asking here before I replace the Carl's starter is that if my method is what's causing it, I likely will do the same to the new starter, too.

If I abandon the Carl's, what shoudl I try next?



131 users have voted.


Electricboots 2013 October 25

Hi Scatman,

I have also been struggling with my starter and recently made a fresh start using Sourdoms method because my regular starter was just getting worse every day. Don't abandon your current starter just yet but I am wondering if you start another local natural starter (using eg Sourdom's method on this website) and compare the results things might become clearer eg is it the feeding flour or the culture. My problems came from lack of feeding while away on holiday although the starter was in the fridge the whole time. This allowed some other type of bug to take over while my good guys were weak from starvation. It could be that something like this has happened when you went a long time between feeds at 'some stage, or maybe there is an incomptability between the culture and the feeding flour (yep, had that problem as well!) .

It is my understanding that starters constantly evolve by picking up new yeasts etc in the local environment and from the feeding flour that are added to the the culture in the starter jar so it just could be that the local guys are taking you further away from the original Carl's as each week passes. The cultures definitely do not stay the same long term for home bakers and I have noticed an on-going change in the flavour of the bread from my local artisan bakery, to the extent that we now prefer the bread from a different shop.

highsky's picture
highsky 2013 October 26

My take:

I believe that this is how a made my 1 year old starter.

Mix in a container your flour with a little warm not hot water .
Stir until it become a relatively tight mush .
Cover the pot with a towel and leave it in as possible constant temperature (around 25 degrees Celsius ) .
The next day add flour and warm water and again knead - mix to create a dough like the previous one.
Do the same the next day .
The next day, it must begin to form blisters on the surface of the dough and it will turn sour and almost double in volume.

The timeframe worked for me in Greece, maybe you have to adjust the days in order to have the same results.
I keep stored on the fridge on closed jars and i use it all when making the dough.

I take  a part from it prior to adding the salt and put it back on the fridge.

Flavor: Well for me is there, but im the baker. family, friends and the neigbors seems to agree with me.

I use whole wheat and strong flour from a local mill, i have used from other mills in the past and i can tell that they had some

smal dif in the flavor. The whole wheat is for me the key factor for the flavor,

Sourness: The amount of starter to the flour that i use is 450 to 1000.

Once i used 1 to 1 and that was the only time that i felt the sour on my bread.

That's for me, because the neighbor mention that tastes bit sur when eating from my usual bake.

That is a factor and the other is the fermentation time, longer ones in smaller temp give more sour breads.


Post Reply

Already a member? Login