How to Reduce and Use Your Sourdough Discard
Every sourdough baker is constantly plagued by what to do with their sourdough discard. Let’s talk about how to reduce your discard and how to use what discard you do have!
Sourdough Discard Overview
Continuing on with our Sourdough for Beginner Series, it is time to talk about that pesky sourdough discard. If you followed my tutorial about how to start a sourdough starter from scratch, then you are likely finding yourself with a jar of discard on hand and wondering what to do with it. Dealing with sourdough discard is one of the main reasons I hear from people about why they do not want to keep a starter.
I’m here to tell you that it can actually be a very simple solution. The main thing we are going to talk about is how to reduce your sourdough discard so you don’t even have that much to deal with. But even so, you will still have some discard so I’m also going to give you some easy things to do with it!
What is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough discard is the portion of your sourdough starter that you get rid of when you do a feeding. The reason we do this is because every time you feed your starter you must give it enough flour and water so that it is sufficiently fed. If you were to feed the entire starter every feeding, then your starter would get bigger and bigger and you would need to feed it a larger quantity every time.
How to Reduce Your Sourdough Discard
I often hear the question “Do I really need to discard my starter?” The answer to that is not a simple yes or no answer. The function of discarding some starter is to actually reduce waste down the road. The more starter you keep, the more flour and water you will have to feed it.
However, there are ways to reduce your sourdough discard so you have very little or sometimes none at all. The first way to reduce your discard is to store it in the refrigerator and feed it every 7-10 days. If you will not bake with your starter often then this is a good option for you.
But weather you are storing your starter in the refrigerator or out on the counter top and feeding it every day, you can also reduce the amount of discard. On days when I will not be baking with my starter, I like to do what I call “micro-feedings.” A micro-feeding is where you keep a very tiny amount of starter and then feed that with a small amount of flour and water.
I typically keep 5 grams of starter and feed that with 15 grams of flour and 15 grams of water when I do a micro-feeding. This means that I only have 35 grams of total starter the next time I go to feed it. If you are baking the next time you go to feed, you will likely only have a very small amount to discard (or maybe even none at all) depending on how much you need for your bake. If you aren’t baking, then you still have a very small amount to do your next micro-feeding.
How to Save Your Discard
The best way to store your sourdough discard for future use is in a jar in the refrigerator. I put a date on a jar and every time I feed my starter, I add the discard to my discard jar. Then I can use it it recipes later.
I typically start a new jar about every month. I’m sure the discard will last longer than a month in the refrigerator before it starts going south. But remember, sourdough discard is unfed starter and it will not live indefinitely the way a fed sourdough starter can.
Ways to Use Your Sourdough Discard
Even when you make efforts to reduce your sourdough discard, you will still have some to deal with. You never want to wash it down the drain because it will definitely clog up your pipes. But if you absolutely don’t want to do anything with it, you can throw it in the trash.
However, if you would like to make the most of your sourdough discard there are a few things you can do with it.
- You can add your starter to your compost if you are someone who already composts.
- You can put some in a jar to gift to a friend so they have their own starter to bake with.
- You can dry some of your starter out so that you have a backup on hand if you ever accidentally kill your active starter. This is a very easy process and you can check out this article for helpful information on how to dry your starter.
- And my favorite way to use my sourdough discard is to put it in other baked goods!
How to Bake with Your Sourdough Discard
There are a lot of recipes out there that are already written specifically to be made with sourdough discard. A bit of googling will bring up many delicious options, like these Sourdough Discard Crackers.
However, if you have a favorite recipe that you would like to use some of your discard in you can try to modify it. Remember, your sourdough discard is equal parts flour and water. So you will want to reduce the flour and the liquid in the recipe you are adding it to to accommodate for this.
Editing a recipe to utilize your sourdough discard works best in things like muffins, pancakes, waffles, quick loaf breads (like banana bread and zucchini bread). These things are very forgiving and easily edited. It also works well to add some into a bread that is leavened with dried yeast. It adds the sourdough flavor without the fermentation time needed to make actual sourdough.
There really isn’t a set ratio of how much discard to add into your recipe. I typically add about 120 grams of sourdough discard. This means you need to reduce the flour and water in the recipe by 60 grams each, which works out to be 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. My favorite recipe to use my discard in is my basic muffin recipe.
This does mean that if you want to make something like sourdough cookies, or brownies that don’t typically have a liquid ingredient in them, you will need a specific recipe written to be made with sourdough. If the recipe you are using doesn’t have milk or water in it, you can’t really easily edit it to account for the liquid in the sourdough starter.
Whatever you decide to do with your sourdough discard, don’t let it take over your life! If anything, it’s okay to toss it. I try not to very often and since I do micro feedings I really don’t have to. But don’t let sourdough discard be your reason for not making a sourdough!
21 Comments on “How to Reduce and Use Your Sourdough Discard”
Thanks for the tips! To rehydrate dried starter, would I weight the starter and add the same weight of water to reactivate it? A jar of dried starter with instructions would make a lovely gift too; the receiver could activate it when they’re ready, or just use portions of it for one-off bakes.
Thank you for your muffin recipe and explanation of how to use discard in my favourite baking recipes too ❤ I followed your link from your YouTube video 🙂
Can you use sourdough discard right out of the refrigerator?
I was wondering if I can freeze discarded starter to make pizza at a later date!
Would it work if I were to do the microfeedings and also put it in the fridge? I usually keep keep my starter in the fridge with weekly feedings of 25g starter and feed 100g flour and 100g water. Unless I use it to bake, I typically don’t keep my discard. I’m running out of unbleached flour so I want to reduce as much waste as possible.
Hi there, yes definitely! I often only keep about 10 grams of total starter in the fridge. There is absolutely no need to keep a huge amount because you can so easily bulk it up.
Last time I made waffles with the discard they turned out flat. I used a good King Arthur recipe that I had used before and they had turned out great. What do you think happened?
Did the recipe have another leavening of some sort? Discard (unless it is just off an active starter) is inactive/unfed so you can’t rely on it for leavening.
Hi! When doing a micro feed are you still using 1/3 whole wheat flour and 2/3 AP flour? Would it be okay for me to do 10 grams starter and 30 grams flour (10g whole wheat/20 grams ap) and 30 grams water?
Thanks for this information. Just wondering (I’ve not yet made any sourdough or starter, just researching first), if I keep my starter in the fridge, and bake with it once a week, can I not just feed it after each time I take some out for use, and therefore not have any “discard”? Hopefully my question makes sense. 🙂 Thank you.
I had the same question, but when I looked at a sourdough bread recipe it said to feed 2-3 hours before starting the dough. My understanding is that the discard is at an inactive phase and the starter you use to make the bread is at an active phase, so they are not interchangeable.
Thanks Bettie for your videos and tips. You have given me the courage to try and make sourdough bread again after many failed attempts! I have a question, not sure if it was addressed in any of the videos. Which day in the starter making process could I begin saving the discard? Do I have to wait until day 10? or could I start saving the discard on Day 4? Thanks a lot and wish me luck!
Hi Carla, check out my other articles and video for even more detail! Here’s the best one for a step-by-step of the process:https://bakerbettie.com/how-to-make-a-sourdough-starter/
I went to use my sour dough discard, so I stirred the hooch that was sitting on top into the rest of the discard and the discard grew and over flowed the jar. Is this normal?
Love your website and Youtube channel.
Question: Concerning the discard jar, do you have to allow the discard starter jar to warm up first before you place the new warm discard starter into the jar?
Thank you. Art
Hi Art! I do not, you can just add it right in!
Thank you for all the good info! So to use sourdough starter for your muffin recipe, I’d substitute 120g discard for 1/2c flour and 1/4 milk, right? I’m excited to try this! I’m on day 5 of my starter so it’s almost ready!
I’m on day four of your sourdough series (which is truly excellent). What day can I start saving my discard for later use?
You can save your discard as soon as you have discard!
I’m A new Be to sourdough baking! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but when I went to discard and feed my starter my starter was really soupy! Not a thick paste !
Like yours? I didn’t have any discard to speak of!
So I just added my discard along with 113g of water along with 113g of rye flour!
Hi, Bettie. If I want to use discard into a recipe with dried yeast, do I use the same amount as stated in the recipe for the dried yeast? While I minus the ratio of flour & water from thr original recipe.
After micro-feeding on day 1 on subsequent days do you feed every 12 hours or 24 hours? Also, do you feed your starter 15g of water and 15g flour at each feed? Or do you increase to amount you feed each time?