I came home to a sensory delight akin to opening a can of fresh zombie purée. Every time I get to this point (far, far too many times), I am reminded why I should be more diligent about maintaining my starter once it becomes a going concern. Oh, it *looks* all innocent and bubbly and innocuous, just a cheerful little colony of bacteria building a natural leavening machine. But don’t you be fooled; get too close (say, close enough to feed it) and it will make you yak like your worst enemy just gut-punched you. That said, it is one of those experiences that should be endured once, like It’s a Small World. So, go ahead, chum – give ‘er a sniff.
Once you’re done dry heaving – and I hope it is dry heaving, woe to he who feeds the beasties on a full stomach at this stage – it is time to discard the vast majority of the stinking slop and give the remaining beasties their first feeding. Leave about a teaspoon of beasties in the container, then scale 50 grams of rye flour and 60 grams water into it and stir thoroughly. That rotting stench will be gone…for now. It will reappear as the bacteria colony invades and inhabits the untouched flour and water. In time (a few more days), the eau de corpse will be replaced by a scent that will reward a deep, heavy sniff rather than punish it.