Why does sourdough smell like acetone? Is it safe to eat?

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Does your sourdough smell like acetone?

When you experiment with home fermentation, weird questions become the norm. Why am I smelling gym socks or baby puke in this vial of sourdough starter? So why does my ginger insect have a vinegar odor?

Questions that may appear strange to individuals who have never fermented anything in their kitchen, but will be answered with a nod of understanding by others who have been in the same situation.

Sourdough is one of those perplexing concepts that has spurred lengthy discussions in fermenting circles. Since sourdough starters are all different based on geographical region, flour, water, ambient atmosphere, and the person producing it, when you start making your own, you may have a lot of questions.

Guidelines are available to point you in the right path, but fermenting is more of an art than a precise science, and it needs some intuition and observation to understand the behavior of your individual starter.

Acetone or nail polish remover is one of the strange smells that sourdough may have. What is the reason of this?

Why Does Sourdough Smell Like Acetone?

When your sourdough bread smells like acetone or nail polish remover, it’s likely due to an underfed starter. A sourdough starter should smell yeasty with a somewhat sour undertone. A scent similar to acetone or nail polish indicates that the yeast in the starter is hungry. If your sourdough starter smells like acetone, feed it more regularly until it reaches a condition of equilibrium.

Help! My Sourdough Bread Smells Like Acetone!

If your sourdough bread smells like acetone, it’s likely due to the state of the starter you used. While sourdough bread is fermented, it should still smell yeasty and delightful.

So, what may have triggered it?

1. Your Starter is Very Hungry!

If your starting smells strongly of acetone, it is probably famished and needs to be fed more.

We asked Cultures for Health, a leading resource for all things fermented, why sourdough starters might occasionally smell chemical or alcoholic. They said in an email to us that one of the primary reasons a sourdough starter might release a strong scent similar to nail polish remover or acetone is because it isn’t fed enough.

When it isn’t fed often enough or you skip feedings, the bacterial balance shifts, since certain bacteria flourish in particular circumstances more than others, resulting in the starter smelling like alcohol or acetone.

Thus, if your beginning begins to smell like it might remove your nail paint, it is most likely famished and just needs more food. Feed it more and watch if the odor goes away when the starter recalculates its balance.

2. Try Warmer Temperatures

Acetic acid is created spontaneously during fermentation. Acetic acid is simply vinegar, and it degrades over time into acetone, which has the chemical odor of nail polish remover.

There are two kinds of lactic acid bacteria, according to Serious Eats. One converts carbohydrates just to lactic acid, whereas the other converts sugars to both lactic acid and acetic acid.

Lactic Acid Bacteria (or LAB) that just makes lactic acid prefers higher temperatures, but LAB that also produces acetic acid thrives at considerably lower temperatures.

If your sourdough starter smells like acetone, it’s conceivable that the dominant bacterial culture is the one that generates lactic acid and acetic acid. Acetic acid may degrade into acetone when the beginning is not supplied.

To check whether the bacterial balance changes, move your sourdough starter to a warmer location while increasing feeding.

The frequency with which you feed your starting, the temperature, and the kind of flour, water, and ambient atmosphere in your fermentation space all impact the scents and textures of your sourdough starter, but the first step is always to feed your starter more.

How Can I Save My Sourdough Starter That Smells Like Acetone?

Fortunately, all hope is not gone. A sourdough starter that smells like acetone may often be rescued by feeding it more often. Cultures for Health cautions, however, that if your starting hasn’t been fed in a while, it may take some time to nurture it back to health.

This makes perfect sense. When a system loses its equilibrium, such as when it becomes ill, it takes some time to reestablish that balance. Patience and constancy are essential.

You just need to keep feeding it until it is healthy and in an optimal state of equilibrium.

If increasing the frequency of feedings does not help, Cultures for Health has this to say:

Take out 2 teaspoons of starter and replace it with a cup of water and a cup of flour. When it’s time to feed the starting again, return to your usual feeding schedule.

Health-promoting Cultures

You give your sourdough a fighting chance to reestablish its natural state of balance by diluting and introducing a fresh set of bacteria to populate the starting.

How Do I Know When It’s Time To Toss My Sourdough Starter?

Alcohol, acetone, or vinegar odors are one thing, and they can typically be remedied by increasing feeding to enable the proper bacteria mix to prevail with the right nutrition.

Nevertheless, if you see anything pink or orange in your starting or visible mold, it is a solid indicator that evil bacteria have taken over your sourdough starter and the good guys have lost. It is better to simply dump everything and start again at this point.

Is Sourdough That Smells Like Acetone Safe to Eat?

It is safe to consume acetone-scented sourdough starter. The scent will usually bake off while you prepare your bread, but if it persists, it should still be safe to consume, if a little unpleasant.

Yet, if it is something you can take, there is no danger. Alternatively, you should start afresh and ensure that the starter you use is adequately nourished and does not have an overpowering acetone or other undesirable odor that might give an unpleasant and bitter flavor to your sourdough bread.

What Is A Sourdough Starter?

A sourdough starter is a symbiotic and stable colony of wild yeast and beneficial bacteria formed by the fermentation of wheat and water and used to leaven and flavor bread dough. It is a system that must be continually maintained and fed in order to preserve its equilibrium.

While the microbiome population would rely on the organisms present in the flour, water, air, the jar, geographical location, and some studies even indicate, the baker’s hands, the particular composition of yeast and bacteria in each starter is distinct.

Each starting starts with a group of yeast and bacteria, and the best, most robust group of bacteria and yeast ultimately prevails, giving the starter its distinct microbial makeup.

The precise strains for each starter may change, but they are always made up of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. The yeast is responsible for manufacturing the carbon dioxide required to generate the fluffy, fragrant bread that is every bread baker’s dream.

The lactic acid bacteria is crucial for lowering the pH and giving it that tangy, sour flavor, as well as preventing unwanted bacteria from multiplying in the starter.

After the first battle for control, the emerging colony produces something that is actively bubbling and rises when fed, with a nice yeasty and faintly sour fragrance. Once stable, each starting will have its own distinct odor. Yet, during the first procedure, the scent might vary from vomit to old socks, filthy feet, spoilt milk, and bad-smelling cheese.

If the balance is not maintained, the sourdough starter may begin to smell like other things as well. A strong odor of alcohol, nail polish, or vinegar suggests that there is an imbalance in the colony.

What is Sourdough Bread?

Sourdough bread is organically leavened with wild yeast and bacteria using a starter formed by fermenting wheat and water.

Sourdough, as opposed to normal bread, depends on natural, wild yeast and the beneficial bacteria created during the fermentation process to rise. It has no additives and depends on the natural fermentation process to generate its distinctive acidic taste and chewy texture.

Sourdough may take a long time and patience to create, especially if you’re just starting out and producing your own starter. There are several tools and instructions available to assist you in getting started.

Yet, you will need to apply a lot of intuition and observation since your sourdough starter will be unique and will have a unique combination of variables that will impact how it grows.

Is Sourdough Healthy?

Sourdough bread is often healthier than other forms of bread for a variety of reasons.

1. Naturally leavened

Sourdough bread is claimed to be healthier than white bread since it is naturally leavened and does not include the artificial yeast and chemicals present in store-bought bread.

2. Fiber and Digestive Health

Sourdough includes fiber that aids digestion, especially when prepared with whole wheat flour. Sourdough includes a lot of probiotics during fermentation, but not many of them survive the baking temperatures.

Yet, the prebiotics it contains survive and help feed the healthy bacteria that already reside in our bellies, facilitating and maintaining gut health.

3. Increased Bioavailability

The lactic acid in sourdough bread also serves to make the vitamins, minerals, protein, and other elements in the bread more accessible, or absorbable by the body.

As a result, the nutrients become more valuable to our bodies. This occurs during the fermentation process due to the breakdown of phytic acid, which generally hinders vitamin and nutrient absorption.

4. May Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels

Sourdough also has a low glycemic index, which means it does not produce blood sugar spikes since it is absorbed slowly by the body. As a result, unlike conventional white bread, it aids with blood sugar management. This is particularly useful for folks who need to monitor their blood sugar levels.

5. Less Gluten and More Digestible

Sourdough has less gluten than conventional bread due to the slow and extended fermentation process, and is therefore easier on the digestive system. According to one research, sourdough bread is more readily absorbed by the body than ordinary bread.

The fermentation process is what makes sourdough bread a healthier option for bread, as it provides our bodies with more readily accessible nutrients that it can utilise to promote health and well-being.

Is Sourdough Gluten-Free?

Sourdough has a naturally tart taste and, since it is slow-fermented, many people believe it is healthier than other forms of bread.

For people who are sensitive to gluten, sourdough is regarded to be a better digestible option since the gluten is broken down into a more digestible, absorbable form throughout the lengthy fermentation process, decreasing the discomforts it normally causes.

Sourdough has less gluten than conventional bread, and since it includes healthy bacteria that help the stomach in digestion, it is simpler for the body to digest and enjoy.

Although it may be simpler to digest and contain less gluten than conventional bread, it is crucial to remember that unless produced with a gluten-free starting, sourdough is not gluten-free. It is critical to remember this if you have gluten allergies or sensitivities, or if you have celiac disease.

Beyond Celiac claims that even if it contains less gluten, it does not contain enough to be termed gluten-free. Even if someone with a gluten sensitivity does not experience symptoms after eating sourdough bread, there is always a chance that harm is occurring within the stomach.

As a result, it is critical to remember to use certified gluten-free items when serving to persons who have gluten allergies or sensitivities.

Frequently Asked Questions to Sourdough Smells Like Acetone

What Should My Sourdough Starter Smell Like?

Each sourdough starter is unique and will develop its own distinct aroma. Sourdough starters, on the other hand, should have a light yeast-like fragrance with a hint of sourness. It should not have an offensive or disagreeable odor. If it happens, keep feeding it until it is balanced.

My Sourdough Starter Smells Bad. Should I Continue Feeding It?

Sourdough starters, especially when first starting out, have a variety of disagreeable odors ranging from baby vomit to stinking socks or stinky cheese. Continue to feed your starter until it is balanced and the right combination of yeast and bacteria predominates.

Why Does My Sourdough Smell Like Alcohol?

A sourdough starter that smells like alcohol is most likely underfed. In the absence of food, yeasts devour discarded yeast and their own waste, resulting in a strong alcohol odor. Additional feedings will be able to eliminate the odor and provide the yeast with a food supply.

Conclusion to Sourdough Smells Like Acetone

Sourdough bread baked with a starting that smells strongly of acetone may absorb that aroma. A sourdough starter might produce a strong acetone odor if there is insufficient food supply for the yeast and bacteria in the starter owing to insufficient feeding.

Sourdough bread that smells like acetone is safe to eat and will most likely not affect the way your bread bakes, but it may be disagreeable and unpleasant, and may leave a bitter aftertaste, depending on the person’s tastes.

To prevent this issue in the future, always use a ripe, mature, and well nourished sourdough starter.


Can you eat sourdough that smells like acetone?

If your sourdough starter smells like alcohol, vinegar, or nail polish remover, it’s hungry and has created a lot of acetic acid. The healthy bacteria have depleted all of the nutrients in the flour and are starving for more.

Is it safe to eat bread that smells like acetone?

If you discover that your bread has a chemical odor, such as acetone, you may discard it or return it to the store where you acquired it.

Can you still use sourdough if it smells like acetone?

The sourdough starter smells strongly like acetone.

It’s really an indication that it’s hungry. It wants more food, so you’ll have to give it more flour. That also suggests you’re not feeding it often enough, and you should adjust your feeding plan.

Can I use sourdough discard that smells like alcohol?

A. The black liquid is hooch, a naturally occurring alcohol that tells that your sourdough starter is hungry. Hooch is OK to drink, but it should be drained off and discarded before churning and feeding your starting.

What do I do if my sourdough starter smells like nail polish remover?

If the fragrance changes to something like nail polish, it’s time to feed your starting. If the polish smell does not go away, we apologize but we believe it is time to start again! You agitate your starting to help it absorb oxygen.

Why does my bread smell like nail polish remover?

Endomycopsis, a wild yeast, is almost usually at blame for this condition. This yeast occurs naturally and is transferred into plants by air currents. The yeast transforms starch into acetone, which causes the bread to smell. The yeast is best removed by rinsing the apparatus with vinegar.

How do you know if your sourdough starter is bad?

But, if you see a pink or orange tinge or streak, your sourdough starter has gone bad and should be thrown. The stiff beginning seen above was stored at room temperature for two weeks. It’s time to toss it all out and start afresh.

What if I ate smelly bread?

Don’t worry: ingesting the fuzzy green goo is unlikely to damage your body. The worst thing about eating mold is definitely discovering you ate mold. Even if it makes you gag, being completely grossed out is usually the worst outcome.

Is it safe to eat smelly bread?

Since it is hard to tell what sort of mold is growing on your bread just by looking at it, it is advisable to assume it is hazardous and avoid eating it (1). Also, avoid smelling rotten bread since you may inhale fungal spores.

Why does my sourdough starter smell like nail polish remover reddit?

Apologies, but the original poster of this post erased it. The acetone scent is usually caused by a starting being underfed; increasing the feedings as you propose would be my first step.

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