Making Scratch Starter Sometimes Smells – Ask Dr. Dough

Making starter on your own sometimes smells.:0

Dr. Matt McClean,

I started  making starter on my own via instructions on the internet with fresh ground wheat & water.  It worked great but went crazy, grew super huge, & smelled WAY sour strong. The other start was a dehydrated start from [some one else].  It was just a tiny bit & started fine, but then it went blah.  It started getting gray on top with liquid, & it was even worse if I put it in the fridge.  It totally quit growing with feeds too.  I had dehydrated (low raw heat) some of the start on my own, while it was beautiful, & I’ve tried restarting from that also.  But it’s just not working.  I’ve kinda given up.  Jennifer

Making your own starter from scratch can sometimes be a smelly process. With the grain starter that you made on your own from flour and water, the issue may be contamination with competing microbes.  In the beginning stages of making your start from flour and water, there will be competing microbes.  Some of the microbes that you don’t want will bubble up well, but smell awful.  Then as you continue to feed the grain start, the pH will drop and those unwanted bacteria will die off because they cannot live in the acid environment.  Through successive feeding over several months, your start will develop dominant microbes, namely bacteria and yeast.  These microbes will be different for each grain type.  For wheat, the dominant bacteria is Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis and the dominant yeast is Candida milleri.  There are many, many more bacteria and yeast strains than these. Interestingly, the ratio of these beneficial bacteria to yeast in a grain Leaven is usually 100 to 1.

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Part 1/5 describes “Mildly Sweet Natural Yeast”.

Part 2/5 responds to “Making Starter from Scratch”.

Part 3/5 answers, “Why all the different grain starts?”

Part 4/5 talks about Natural Leavening, Ancient and Gluten Free Grains.

Part 5/5 lists Health Benefits of using Natural Leavening.



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