I have been making pizza with IDY with a good deal of success, but I haven't been able to help but feel that the flavor of IDY dough, while delicious, seems to have a single dimensionality to it. After reading about many pizza makers (especially in this forum) who use a sourdough culture to ferment their dough, I decided to develop my own sourdough culture to find out what deeper levels of flavor I could attain from natural leavening.
While buying an Ischia starter made a lot of sense for pizza, I wanted to first start with something that I could call my own. Hence, I chose the Tartine method as my process of choice. In addition to the Tartine book, I've read many articles and how-to's on the web and even this forum on the science and process behind the sourdough culture development.
Today will mark the end of day 5 of my starter journey. His name is Kimchee, because the glass jar I used to store the starter came from a jar of Kimchee I bought to eat with Korean/Japanese curry.
I'm somewhat excited yet skeptical about the progress that Kimchee has made so far. I've been keeping it in a relatively cool room (~65F), and I never bothered to take or manipulate the temperature of the water/flour when initially putting it together or subsequently feeding it. At the end of day 2 (48hrs), the starter had a thin layer of water pooled up on the top which I stirred back and left for an additional 12 hrs. The next day, the starter had a smell of dijon mustard - grainy, vinegary, tart, and somewhat sweet. I discarded about 80% and fed it back the 100% hydration mixture of 50/50 white/WW flour and water. After 24 hours, I saw lots of tiny bubbles in Kimchee and saw about a 30% increase in volume. I fed it again, and in the next 12 hours, Kimchee had doubled, and 24 hrs after that, it had fallen back. I fed it again, leaving 20% and feeding it with the standard food mixture. That was about an hour ago.
The smell I got from the starter just now was sweet, bready, and alcoholic. It did not smell unpleasant at all. When I tasted it, the flavor was very sour, very much like a very sour sourdough bread, and there were no rotten aspects in it.
Do you think my starter is close to being ready for use? I feel like I have skipped the whole unpleasant, stinky feet smell aspect of the process, and it worries me a bit. Do the indications I've been seeing suggest that the culture has stabilized and the the unwelcome bacteria no longer pose a threat?
I would really appreciate your feedback on this! Thanks!