OK, so I have a starter from king arthur that I have had for about one year and it smells as it should, at least I think it does, kind of yeasty and alcoholish inbetween uses. Anyway so I wanted to experiment with other starters so I got an Italian one from Sourdough international (see if they really do taste differently), and I started it and it smells RADICALLY different. Frankly it smells like sour milk. Did I do something wrong? Is it just a different starter smell? I am afraid to use it.....
Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
--Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)
I don't really know anything about that particular starter, but in my experience starters should smell yeasty, but pleasant. If it offends your nose, I would go with your instinct that it is no good.
Just my 2 cents as I really don't know what that starter should smell like, but sourdough isn't usually like sour milk.
If it has a grayish look to it, (or even a little grayish mold) it is probably all right-- that means good bacteria, just scrape and toos the mold. It if looks pinkish, toss it! I have a starter from the WS: Essentials of Baking (Pain au Levain), and I'm getting my info on this from there. But I agree that if it's really reeking, it couldn't hurt to start over. I've never had a starter that stunk before.
I wonder if it has a milk base. Does it say to feed it with milk instead of water? I would probably agree -- if it looks okay and no orange or pink to it, it should be alright, but it you really can't stand the smell, you might not like the flavor. Different strains of sourdough do have distinctive flavors and the smells are probably different too.
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