Sourdough Starter Smells Like Acetone – Can You Still Use It?

Published Categorized as Sourdough Starter

If you’re wondering whether you can use a sourdough starter that smells like acetone, then first you must ensure that you’re looking at an active starter. Your sourdough starter goes through many changes throughout its life, what with the wild yeast and bacteria taking over. Sometimes it releases pleasant smells, whilst other times, the smells are slightly questionable. When this happens, one can only think that perhaps my sourdough starter has died! If your sourdough starter smells like acetone, alcohol, socks, vomit, or something else unpleasant, then here’s what you need to do.

Can you use a sourdough starter that smells like acetone?

Table of Contents

What Should A Sourdough Starter Smell Like?

Your starter should smell pleasantly sour with a touch of yeastiness. It shouldn’t smell overpowering, or nasty at all.

If your sourdough starter makes you wrinkle your nose in disgust, then throw it away.

Unpleasant Sourdough Scents

Why Does My Starter Smell Like Acetone?

Your starter may develop an acetone or nail polish remover smell. Don’t be alarmed as this is completely normal, your starter is simply hungry, which is why you should feed it!

Your starter may smell like this if it is in a warm environment. If your starter wants to be fed more than twice a day, then consider increasing its feeding ratio to 1:2:2. To prevent your starter from eating all its food too quickly, simply use some iced water to slow it down a bit.

Why Does My Starter Smell Like Old Gym Socks?

During the first few weeks, as the bacteria and yeast slowly become established, your starter may begin to smell really bad. You might find that it smells like old gym socks or vomit.

This is completely normal, and your starter should settle down once the good bacteria have taken over.

Why Does My Starter Smell Like Vinegar?

Your starter will release a variety of smells throughout its lifetime, especially vinegar smell. If your starter smells like vinegar, then this is a clear indication that your starter is very hungry The simplest way to tackle this would be to feed your starter with fresh flour and water.

Can you use a sourdough starter that smells like acetone?

What Should A Sourdough Starter Look Like?

A healthy and well-established sourdough starter will resemble a thick pancake batter and will appear nice and bubbly after it has been fed.

It should plop out of your container, but it shouldn’t fall out freely.

Unpleasant Sourdough Appearances

Why Is My Starter Forming A Skin?

Sometimes, your starter can develop a crust or skin. This is perfectly fine and only indicates that your starter might be getting a little too dry on top.

Simply use a lid to cover the sourdough starter jar or even some plastic wrap. Scrape off the skin and feed the starter as you normally would.

If this is a common occurrence then you may need to change where you’re placing your starter!

What To Do If My Starter Becomes Moldy?

If your starter develops a pink or orange furry tint, then it’s definitely time to discard and start over.

Ensure that your jar is clean, especially if the mold is recurring. Also, consider using different types of fresh flour as sometimes mold can come from the flour.

Feeding Starter With Different Flour

Often, sourdough starters might not become accustomed to the flour they’re being fed with. In fact, they might hate it altogether.

You can choose to feed your starter with any type of flour you like, as long as it increases in volume, and bubbles up beautifully.

Try using whole wheat flour, rye flour, or all-purpose flour. A healthy starter will happily gobble up the fresh flour and water, and increase in size, so much so, you’ll need to discard it before each feed!

If your starter isn’t expanding, however, then perhaps it requires additional feeds, or a completely different flour altogether.

Sourdough Starter Smells Like Acetone

A smelly sourdough starter doesn’t necessarily mean a bad sourdough starter. Simply feed and shower it with love, and it’ll be good to go.

Sourdough Starter Smells Like Acetone FAQs

Can I Use My Sourdough Starter If It Smells Like Acetone?

Yes, absolutely. Your starter may develop some smells, akin to nail polish remover or acetone. This is perfectly normal and is an indicator that your starter is hungry.

Can You Eat Sourdough That Smells Like Acetone?

Yes. The acetone smells aren’t harmful to your body, in fact, the starter is in perfect condition, rather it requires some additional feedings, thanks to its production of acetic acid.

Why Does My Sourdough Starter Smell Like Polish Remover?

If your starter smells like alcohol, vinegar, or nail polish remover, it’s an indicator that your starter is really hungry and has produced acetic acids.

Why Does My Dough Smell Like Acetone?

The acetone smell is an indication of a very hungry starter, the yeast having engulfed all of their food.

By Natasha Krajnc

Hi! My name is Natasha and I'm specialized in home sourdough bread baking and currently based in Slovakia - a very small country in Central Europe. My bread baking story began in 2011 when I decided to give up commercial yeast. I felt tired all the time (especially after eating bread and other foods made with yeast), I wasn’t motivated to do anything, had trouble concentrating throughout the day, my abdomen was bloated and I was like a trumpet on steroids – basically, I was quite a wreck. I was a big bread lover (and still am) and having to stop eating bread was quite hard at that time but I felt I was on a right way to give my body a chance to heal itself.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *