Turpentine and thanks!


Hello all! 


I just found this site and am impressed by all the great info here. 


I was going to post about the turpentine smell coming from my starter, but after a quick search of this site, it appears that I am not the only one.  So, after reading a few posts, I will be taking my starter out of the fridge and running it through some pretty frequent feedings until the smell disippates.  


In case anyone else is curious as to how I arrived at this point:  I had a small amount of starter that I had in the fridge.  I got the starter in Seattle from one of the tourist trap spots with a Sour Dough cookbook.  The cookbook made it seem as if caring for the starter was more hands-off than I am finding on this site.  So, my feedings were very infrequent (3-6 months.)  I kept in an airtight plastic container that I was sure to keep clean.  For my feedings, I would throw out 1/2 to 2/3 of it and add equal parts water/flour (total amount varied), and then after mixing well and letting it sit overnight, I would place it back in the fridge.  In general, my baking results were so-so, and obviously nothing memorable.  In fact, it has been sooooo long since I last used the starter in baking bread that I honestly don't remember how they turned out--probably a sign that the results weren't that impressive right?


Over the past few months, however, I threw out a number of the "sure-fire" bread recipes that never quite seemed that great to me.  And boy was I glad, because I am now using a good baguette recipe and keep achieving a light, chewey, crispy baguette consistently!  Having obtained the desired results with basic lean dough, I am now ready to reintroduce sour dough into my baking rotation.  Which eventually brought me here with the turpentine question.  


Thanks to this forum, I am finding answers to many questions that I didn't even realize that I had!  I will be back.  And thank you all for sharing your experiences!



132 users have voted.


mlucas 2010 April 1

Great post Ben!  I also owe many thanks to the contributors of this site. Especially SourDom with his tutorials, I created my starter using his instructions, it's a month old now and providing great bread and pancakes!

Like you I had the turpentine (I called it acetone / nail polish remover) smell from my starter. This was before I ever put it in the fridge. I think I just wasn't feeding it often enough (only once/day), and the yeast were getting starved. The first loaves I baked at that stage turned out so-so, they rose alright but not great and had a bit of a funky flavour, more odd than sour.

Since I realized I was underfeeding and adjusted, the bread has tasted much better. I also tried pancakes which were a HUGE hit with the wife & kids.

You don't mention using rye in your starter, but one thing I learned is that rye tends to make the yeast more active. This might be good when waking it up from the fridge, but when using rye you probably need to feed more often than when just using white flour. Here is a good article on maintaining starter.

Ben_Ben 2010 April 3

Alright, so my starter has mostly been resuscitated and now smells of mild mayonnaise instead of turpentine.  I am on the right track, right? =)

Nina Petrie 2010 April 9

Hi everyone,

New on here but just started with sourdough thanks to the convent teachings last weekend and the lovely Marlon.

Saw Baker D from Chirico (St Kilda) last night on Italian Food Safari and noticed he was using some sort of cloth and also an interesting basket (just letting in a fine light thanks to the rings). Anyone know where I might purchase these and if indeed they are worth purchasing...Thanks so much for all the advice on here. Marlon from the convent gave us all some sourdough starter and it worked a treat. Just wish we weren't in a rented house and I had an oven to do it justice.



rossnroller 2010 April 9

Hi Nina

Yes, I saw that, too. Some of those breads looked incredibly good, huh? Can see why he's considered da man in Melbourne for sourdough. Would love to wrap my tonsils around that bread with the ricotta in it ! Hadn't heard of using that as a dough component.

To your question: those baskets are called bannetons, and the canvas cloths couches. You can order them from the shop here (see 'shop' link in horizontal menu across the top of this page).

Cheers and happy baking


rolls 2010 April 22

hi im new here too, and found out bout this baker thru italian food safari, they had an excellent segment on artisan bread, was jus wondering does anyone know if he has a cookbook? if so would definately get it.

caper_gaper 2011 March 9

As an avid bread-lover, I can say that I really appreciate this post! I will be on the lookout for the right kind of starter, as I'm looking to start bread making. Some of these sourdough breads I'm reading about sound like ones they have at seasons 52.

Its great to have your post, as a kind of canary-in-the-mineshaft, testing out things for us!

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