Sourdough smell

if a sourdough starter smells a bit like “vinegar” does that mean it is not good or just needs to be fed?

Give it a good feed. Try… 1:5:5 and see if that balances it out.

What is your maintenance like at the moment? A bit of history of your starter will help.

Thanks for your thoughts

My starter history: feed it not on any specific schedule, more that I use it to bake and at that time I refresh maybe once a week or a bit more

I have a white flour starter and a rye starter so depending on what kind of bread I am baking I use one starter or the other

And of course kept in the fridge in-between feeds.

So let’s say you want to bake on Sunday morning. Your starter has been sitting in the fridge for a week. Talk me through on how you prep your starter.

How much starter? How much feed? How long it’s left to mature and use? And what’s the procedure after that for going back into the fridge for another week?

If I am baking on Sunday AM I will bring the starter out Saturday PM and mix it with the dough to prepare it left on the counter for 8-12hours depending on the recipe

Before putting the remaining starter back in the fridge I usually “refresh” or feed it at 1 part water ( by weight) to 1 part flour; this will sit in the fridge until I need it next time

I think a different maintenance schedule would better suit you.

Ideally you want a big starter feed and it should be used in the dough when active and mature.

How about keeping only little of your starter. When it comes to baking take it out the night before, give it a big feed and use in the dough the next morning. Return what’s left to the fridge and as long as you feed it every week it shouldn’t be an issue. This way your starter gets a healthy feed, and it’s freshly matured, all active and ready to raise the dough. I think you’ll find it will keep your starter healthy and it’ll make better bread.

What’s a typical recipe?

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Another good suggestion; guess I have been concerned about having too much starter on hand but I can try and increase that amount

Favorite recipe is the artisan rye and spelt loaves

You keep one rye starter and one bread flour starter. I keep one rye starter and use it for everything. My maintenance is very easy, only feed it when it runs low, it lives in the fridge and from which i’ll build up a levain into whichever type of starter I need. This way the levain that goes into the bread has had a healthy feed, is very active and ready to go. When the starter rus low then i’ll give that a healthy feed, allow it to double and back into the fridge it goes. So something like this…

*** A few grams of starter**
*** 50g water**
*** 40g whole rye flour**
[I keep a 125% hydration starter - works well for rye and has a lovely flavour]

Once doubled it goes into the fridge where it can last for up to a few weeks. When it comes to baking i’ll take a little off and build an off-shoot starter (a levain) building it to the specifications of the recipe i’m following be it rye, bread flour or spelt etc and to the correct hydration. For example, in the artisan rye loaf on this site you want 70g of 100% hydration whole rye starter. Now you can either be exact and work out how much flour and water is in your starter according to how much you take off or because you are doing a big feed using a small amount of starter you don’t need to sweat the small difference. So the night before i’ll take a teaspoon of my starter and do the following feed:

*** 1 tsp starter**
*** 35g water**
*** 35g rye flour**

A nice big feed allowed to mature overnight. Come the next morning it’ll be ready to use in the dough.

After a few weeks my starter has run low and is down to scraps so i’ll give my starter a feed, allow it to double and return it to the fridge where the process begins again. Can quite happily go for two weeks or longer but if you wish then build less and feed more often. But what’s important be it starter or levain is that it should be a healthy feed. This works very well for rye starter as they’re more hardy than bread flour starters. That’s why I like to keep a rye starter for everything and build levains so it one starter for all.

No discard.

Thanks agin Abe.

I will give your suggestions a go and see how the results are… I am a bit reluctant to having only kind of starter but I can still following your suggestions using either one…

Try the rye as my starter is rye and have lots of success with that. Rye is hardy and needs less TLC than a bread flour starter. Your bread flour starter may need more feeding than once every two weeks and since you have two you may not get round to using it that often. You could try the same technique but build less so you run low more often and feed it more regularly. Or simply build in excess of 15g when making a levain and return that excess to the fridge. Then feed it a healthy feed, in excess again, for the next bake and so on. Keeping the scraps for the fridge ready for the next bake when you repeat the procedure. This way it gets a good feed and more often. So many ways but the same rule applies. A healthy feed = a healthy starter. And use a freshly fed starter/levain that is active in your dough.

Thank you again for all you’re good suggestions…