sourdough starter smells like vomit

Does your sourdough starter smell like vomit? Urrgh, no one likes a putrid pungent smell.

It is a turn-off, especially if it comes from what is meant to be food.

As you look forward to using your sourdough starter for quick bread, pancakes, waffles, cracks, or whatever you will be baking, the dough must remain in good shape.

So, if the sourdough starter smells like vomit, then your attention is needed. 

And how should a sourdough starter smell? Is a sourdough starter supposed to smell bad?

In no way should your sourdough starter smell like vomit. If it does, then it is always because it wants to get fed more frequently. The vomit-like smell is from the butyric acid,  a byproduct resulting from fermentation.

What Should Sourdough Smell like?

sourdough smell like

It is usually harder to tell or describe the smell of something.

Most people are good at denoting the taste or appearance of something but with smell, things get a little tougher.

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You could hear the funniest smell in a sentence from someone trying to explain the intensity of a smell.

Like sourdough, if you are to describe its color and taste, you could do it with so much ease.

You could define its color as beige, yes. Of course, Sourdough is beige, soft, and shaded with a red undertone. 

Its taste could be termed as bitter like vinegar, but how would you define the smell?

Now, that is a little deviation, a pacesetter for what to expect about the smell of sourdough. But, what should it smell like?

Does Sourdough Have A Naturally Awful Smell?

have naturally awful smell

Sourdough might throw up a couple of various smells throughout the period it is left to ferment.

The smell changes from week to week, and also according to how frequently it is fed.

Sourdough could smell like; think of the socks of a footballer or rugby player who got drenched in rain during a match and hasn’t aired out the socks for days on end.

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It could also smell like puke, a dangerously sharp, irritant foul smell that could easily give you a headache.

Sourdough could smell like anything; the smell only depends on how you have stored it.

It could be anything between a sharp deadly pungent smell, and a sweet inviting smell.

Tip: Fresh sourdough starters are supposed to smell like something tasty. Something like cinnamon, or toasted pineapples in coconuts.

Should There Be Any Course For Alarm?

course of alarm

Why does my sourdough starter smell like vomit? If it does smell like vomit then it might get you really uncomfortable.

You should! Because it is not a serious concern.

And other than smelling like vomit, your sourdough starter could also develop other strong smells similar to acids, alcohol, yogurt, or acetone.

It might also fail to rise as fast as you would encourage, it could go moldy or separate and form a liquid on the top. 

These are some of the concerns you might face with your starter sourdough. You must not despair, for everyone faces them.

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Should Sourdough Starter Smell Like Vomit?

should smell like vomit

You know the smell of vomit, right? A fetid and nauseating smell, one that could cause you a headache. 

No one enjoys being sick, and especially vomiting while sick, it wears you down, paints life in darkness, and leaves you reeling in darkness and mystery.

You could be tempted to want to write your will if you hadn’t when you begin vomiting endlessly. All the food comes out, the water, medicine, and drinks.

And everything that does come out of the digestive system, after going through the deadly acids in the gut and coming out, does have a rancid smell.

Now, you must have noticed that your dough might be smelling like vomit and do not want to go near it, especially if you are allergic to strong pungent smells.

That is right. But why does your sourdough all of a sudden smell like vomit, of all things?

Should I Allow My Sourdough Starter To Continue Smelling Like Vomit?

should continue smell like vomit

At the beginning of this article, I hinted to you why. In fact, there is no other better way to explain that than how I did.

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The fact is, sourdough starters must not be left to smell like vomit.

The vomit-like smell is a result of the butyric acid, the byproduct of the fermentation reaction.

If left unattended for long, the butyric acid begins to accumulate, it is the mother of the vomit-like smell no one wants to come across. 

So what can be done? What would you do if your sourdough starter smells like vomit?

The smell of vomit from your sourdough starter shouldn't be the reason you abandon it. 

Those are normal chemical reactions that happen with it, ones that call for a little of your attention.

This attention should be drawn to feeding it more frequently than you do.

Feeding the sourdough helps to check on the microbial environment to ensure that it is healthy and vigorous.

How Do You Feed a Sourdough Starter?

how feed sourdough starter

Told you, that the reason your sourdough starter is smelling like vomit is that you are not feeding it regularly. Stay with me and I’ll tell it all.

Tip: The Feeding of Sourdough starter means provisioning it with food to boost its metabolic activities.

Bacterias in Sourdough

You see, sourdough has bacteria thriving in it that cause the fermentation.

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These bacteria need to be fed more regularly for them to stay healthy and keep on with their task. You can’t see them.

They are fed with flour and water. You must do this daily or have a routine that is friendly to the dough.

bacteria in sourdough

Mix water and flour in proportions. Say 80g of all-purpose flour against 150g of water.

Feed the sourdough by adding 70g of new all-purpose flour, 30g of whole rye flour, and 100g of water to the jar after removing the container’s remaining 20g of ripe sourdough starter.

Then thoroughly mix it till everything is blended.

Finally, put the glass lid on the jar (it doesn’t seal shut; it merely keeps air out) and let it sit for 12 hours.

Note: It is that simple and fast.

Storing Your Sourdough Starters Properly

storing properly

You must observe the best practices while storing your Sourdough starter. 

Preferably do it in an airtight container but with adequate breathing space and also because the sourdough starter will grow.

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When it starts expanding, it might double or even triple in size. So be sure to use a container that can still accommodate it as it bulges, rather than one that would break out.

You can use glass jars, pint jars, and plastic containers to store your sourdough as it ferments.

Tip: Always store it in a large Container, since it will double or triple its size.

Read Next: Bad Dough Rising: What To Do With Dead Yeast?


Does your sourdough starter smell like vomit? You now know why. Do not let it. The smell of vomit is awful, it could take away your appetite for hours.

You can check your sourdough to ensure that it does not start to smell like vomit by feeding it regularly. Also, store it well in a sealed or partially sealed container.

It is your sourdough and so it becomes your responsibility. Do not wait, check it and feed it now. 

Use the rightful amounts of flour and water. Did I leave anything out?

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Of course Sourdough doesn’t just smell like vomit, it could be like alcohol or better still an acid. That is coming up next.

So, follow this blog for more related information. Meanwhile, no vomit-like smell in your sourdough!