I am following this recipe to make sourdough starter (Masa Madre = Mother Dough = sourdough starter?). According to the recipe, it takes around 5 total days (I won't put quantities, I will just use units):

  1. Add unit of integral flour and unit of water, mix. Cover and let it rest 24h
  2. Dough might look the same, it's okay. Add unit of strength flour and unit of water. Some sugar and mix. Cover and rest 24h.
  3. Bubbles start appearing, bigger in size and (using translator) "pungent smell". This means the starter has begun to activate. Add U strength flour and U water, mix. Cover and rest 24h.
  4. Brown liquid might start appearing. Remove it (I'll reference this below), and feed it with U strength flour only, mix, cover and rest 24h.
  5. Ready to use!

I've been researching a bit on hooch, and it basically means that the starter is "hungry", so, ready to be fed more with flour (and water?). I started to make this recipe yesterday at around 19:00. How is it possible that in that recipe, it is only appearing in the 4th day, but while me doing it, it appeared after only 13-14h? How should I proceed, following (or not) this recipe? There's a question on this site but in here it appears at least 2 days after, so on the 3rd day.

Here there is a picture of my starter after 14h aprox.

enter image description here

Also, the recipe mentions to take the liquid away. Now, I have noticed that culturally speaking, I've found more commonly breads that taste sour, in northern countries I've visited/lived in, Germany, Netherlands. But I have not tasted that much sourness in bread in Spain. Is it possible that some areas are used to take the liquid out, and some other are not? And why?

I'm mentioning it because the words Masa Madre (starter or sourdough starter), does not have the word sour in it. And therefore if we have a pan (bread) of masa madre, it means it's made of starter (not yeast from the supermarket), but not that it tastes sour. And from what I read, this liquid is what makes the bread taste more sour (I have read recipes that explicitly say "if you want a more sour/pungent taste, leave the liquid or some of it).

  • I did not add the hooch tag because that probably goes inside the sourdough one(?)
    – M.K
    Mar 14, 2023 at 11:59
  • That looks like mold, unfortunately. Is there foam on top?
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 14, 2023 at 16:27
  • No foam! I just edited the post with another picture so it can be seen better! I don't think it is mold, it's just that the walls of the container have some of the batter/starter. It looks exactly like hooch sourdough starter, although it's my first time making this! @FuzzyChef
    – M.K
    Mar 14, 2023 at 16:42
  • What's the room temperature where you are? How much sugar did you add? (btw, sugar is not normally a component of a new starter).
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 14, 2023 at 16:53
  • Room temp: 20-23 avg daily. This is just after the first step! So only water and integral flour! That is why I'm wondering what that is, something related to the fermentation, but no sugars were added to create this liquid? @FuzzyChef
    – M.K
    Mar 14, 2023 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


Based on photos and chat, I'd say there's two possibilities:

  1. The brown liquid in this case is just water, and it's brown because of the wholemeal (integral) flour.
  2. You got lucky with flour that already had a lot of natural yeast on it, resulting in extra-fast fermentation.

The way you can tell the difference is how it smells. If there's no smell at all, then it's (1); if there's a sour, alcoholic, fermented smell, it's (2).

Either way, you want to proceed with 3-5 days of building up the strength of your starter. If it is fermenting fast, you might want to feed it every 12 hours instead of every 24. Do not add any sugar.

The reason you discard the liquid (hooch) is that it is an alcohol-and-water solution that the yeast give off as a waste product. Stirring it into your starter actually inhibits yeast growth. It's not related to how sour any resulting bread products you make are. That's a function of flour, rising time and technique, not holding on to the waste alcohol.

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