Is it normal for a starter to smell like cheese?


Day 3 and my starter looks exactly like it's supposed to: nice and bubbly. But it smells like cheese.

I have never made sourdough before, so I'm not sure if this is normal.

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farinam's picture
farinam 2015 July 2

Hello Savagejen,

When starting from scratch, different yeasts and bacteria multiply and fade away at different rates as the conditions in the culture change to either suit or to discourage them.  Each produces different substances that can smell quite different and so you can experience a range of smells that range from quite pleasant to not so nice.  These can last for a day or so and are nothing to worry about unless it gets really revolting and persistent.  These changes in the environment on the way to a stable symbiotic culture are the reason that it usually takes ten to fourteen days in the usual scheme of things to get something that you can rely on.

Cheesy is not a description that I have come across but is not beyond the realms of possibility.  So, I would carry on with your feed/discard regime and you might find that it all comes good.  You don't say which method you are following but it is hard to beat the one covered in SourDom's Beginners blog on this site via the link at the top right.

Good luck with your projects.



Duncan951 2018 August 1

Mine smells like that, I'm rather hoping it retains that, as it will probably taste a bit savoury and nutty.

Stu 2017 September 13

Mine smells like blue cheese after a couple of days... which we use a lot of in our house.  I am going to persevere to the bitter end.  Fortunately for me... I like the smell of blue cheese.  My wife on the other hand... I am putting it out in the garage to keep the peace... and my starter from the drain.

Ari 2020 May 8

Googled this to see if it is normal.  Mine smells a little cheesy on day 3, it was very bubbly and fluffy when i opened it up to feed this morning.  Also detected some alcohol, I think I didn't feed it enough, will increase feeding! 

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