New Sourdough Starter-Question about Smell and Taste


I started a new sourdough starter 3 1/2 weeks ago.  I fed it daily for 3 weeks (all purpose flour and spring water) and then put it in the refrigerator for 3 days.  It has been bubbling, foamy and doubling in volume for about 2 weeks (within 12 hours of a feeding.)   It originally had a vinegar smell but that went away about 2 weeks ago. 

I fed the started last night and we used it this morning with a hotcakes recipe.  They were delicious, light and fluffy

The problem:  The starter does not have a sour smell or taste.  Is this normal in a starter this young or is there something else that I should be doing?

Any advice that you can give me is very much appreciated!

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shasta's picture
shasta 2013 March 18

Starters do develope flavor and smell as they age so that coould be it. However, the hydration that you keep it at, how often you feed it and the flour you use can also effect the starter's smell. Taste of the final bread tends to be more a result of the fermentation process and final proof length and temps used in both.

Do you know what hydration you are keeping the starter at and how often you're feeding the starter? thats where I would start.

LL 2013 March 19

Thank you for your help.  I refreshed the starter daily (a few days I did it twice a day) for 3 weeks.  I used 1-1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour (King Arthur), slightly less then 1 cup of Spring Water and about 1/2 cup of starter.

I will try letting it sit in the refrigerator for a few days. 

Any other suggestions would be appreciated.


Thank you!

LL 2013 March 20

Thank you both for your tips.  I had read about Friends of Carl and that was going to be my next attempt if this one didn.t work.  I think that it's fun to start my own.

I was so excited to capture a wild yeast.  I fed it a lot to make sure that it grew and multiplied.  I never really gave it time to rest and ferment.  I also wanted some taste but nothing too strong. 

The starter seems healthy.  Shasta, I took your advice and measured it on my scale.  I fed it in the amounts that you said and now  it is resting comfortably in my refrigerator.

I can't wait to bake with it and to cook more hotcakes and waffles.

Thank you so much for your help!



shasta's picture
shasta 2013 March 19

I use KA flour as well and have very happy with the results. It sounds like you are maintaining your starter around 100% or a little over. I would highly recommend buying a digital scale and to weigh your ingredients. It will allow you to be very consistent with your starter and breads.
I start with 100g of starter and add 100g flour and 100g water. When the starter is on the counter I feed it every 12 hours. When it's in the fridge I feed it once a week. This arrangement has worked very well maintaining a healthy starter.

Sourdough craze 2013 March 19

I am a newbie also but have read a lot on taste and smell. One of the things I found seems to be that if you want  a strong taste and smell you have to feed it less often. To keep it from going bad you have to put it in the fridge. I am using Carl's Oregon Trail bread starter which I received free for a one dollar donation to help cover the cost of mail. You can also get it by just sending a self addressed stamped envelope. To get the address google Carl's Oregon Trail Bread Starter and you will find the address someplace their website. It is a very strong starter that has been going for 150 years or more. I just forgot to feed mine for two weeks and then went on vacation for two weeks forgetting to feed it before I left. So it was a month in the fridge with no feeding. Two days after arriving home I took out the starter poured off the liquid that was on top then taking just one teaspoon of the starter and putting It in a clean jar and mixing in 1/4 cup filtered water fron the fridge and then adding 1/4 cup all purpose flour and mixing well I put it in the oven with the light on for about 4 hours. This time can vary as I have 2 lights in my oven and some ovens have only one. Took it out and after mixing it well added 1/2 cup water mixed it well then 1/2 cup flour and putting it back in the oven with the light on. I have to tell you starters love to be mixed the more the merrier they love getting more air inside. After a few hours when it seemed to be going good I took it out of the oven and left it on the counter for a few more hours. Then put it in the fridge. Tomorrow I will take it out and add one cup filtered water mixing well and the adding 1 cup flour and putting it in the oven with the light for a few hours to get it going. At this point it should be ready to make bread. I used all purpose flour cause I was all out of bread flour but I would recommend bread flour if you have it. I did not use all of the dry starter I got from Carl's. I used a tiny amount in case I was unable to get it going but it seems to be a strong starter. I first put the dry starter in a clean jar with some water to desolve it. Make sure you get desolve well so it will easierly mix with the flour then add the flour to a pancake type mix. Put in the oven with the light. Increase the amount of water and flour first 1/4, then 1/2 cup each until you have about 2 cups of starter. You can get full instructions on one of Carl's websites. Hope these tips help you become a great sourdough baker.


LL 2013 March 20

I also think that a starter with a 150 year history is really cool.. So many options....

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