After waking up properly (that’s at least 2 mugs of coffee!), I looked in on the starter to see much more activity than yesterday.
It has apparently risen and fallen overnight, just as it is supposed to, by about 1/3 again of its volume. According to all my sources, this is a good sign, though what I am shooting for is at least doubling in size after feeding before I can attempt to leaven bread with it.
The smell was also far stronger today, both sour and with a pungently sweet edge that I am not entirely sure I like. Based on my reading, it may well go away, as apparently starter tends to smell in a variety of weird ways (depending on what grows in it initially) in the first days of its life. Interestingly, it smelled better after being stirred (more like sourdough bread and less sweet), which makes me wonder if there was some surface activity by another microorganism (other than the desired yeast and lactobacilli) which is causing it, but I do not have a full lab at home to take samples for identification (although I do have my microbiology book in storage around here somewhere). In any case, ideally the yeast-and-lactobacilli symbiosis will have killed off any other critters in the starter by the end of the week.
It should be noted that my fears of the starter smelling up the kitchen like spoiled milk or other food-gone-off have not come to pass. It smells if I stick nose in it, but not of something outright gone-off in a bad way, and it certainly does not smell enough to notice much around the kitchen. I can live with the faint scent for a few days, and the fact that it can be then frozen or refrigerated in a closed container alleviates my worries about the impracticality of keeping a live starter in a modern kitchen.
In other word, so far so good. Three days down, and I am getting positively impatient. I think it’s been many years since I have had properly-raised sourdough bread. In fact, I think it must have been back in the USA, either at one of those natural-food supermarket’s bakery, or possibly at Saint Louis Bread Company (apparently now it’s called Panera Bread). It’s not that there isn’t good properly-raised sourdough bread in Stockholm (though if there is any in the UK, it’s hiding rather well!), but that I haven’t gone to look for it in Sweden yet. I may, yet – if not for the bread, should this experiment succeed, then at the very least for recipe ideas.