Have leftover sourdough discard? Don’t throw it away! Learn how to use, store and create incredible sourdough discard recipes at home without the waste.
As part of the feeding process, most bakers discard some of their sourdough starter before adding fresh flour and water to the jar. This is done to refresh the acidity levels (think sweet vs. sour smell) and to manage its overall growth in size. This technique is crucial for successful sourdough bread.
However, the whole “discard” process can feel really wasteful and counterintuitive to some. Do you really have to throw it away? Can it be used for something else?
Luckily, there are several ways to make sourdough more sustainable, and here you’ll learn how to use, store and create incredible sourdough discard recipes the whole family will enjoy.
Sourdough discard is the portion of your starter that is removed and discarded before feeding what’s left in the jar. It can be at room temperature or come directly from the fridge.
The texture is less bubbly (if bubbly at all) when compared to fluffy active starter.
Sourdough discard is not active enough to make bread dough rise, and despite its name the “discard” does not have to be thrown away.
Many things! It’s extremely versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
We love these Sourdough Blueberry Crumb Cake Bars; this soft and velvety Sourdough Banana Bread; and these highly addictive Puffed Gruyere & Thyme Crackers from my book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.
FYI: Because sourdough discard does not have rising power, baking soda and/or baking powder can be added to boost the rise. When combined with sourdough, the acidity levels tenderize the final product.
Yes! The amount you pour off can be fed in a separate bowl to create a new starter or “levain.”
Oftentimes the terms sourdough starter and levain used interchangeably. They’re slightly different.
Technically, a levain is an offshoot of your mother starter. It’s made by feeding the sourdough discard directly (not the starter that’s left in the jar).
For example, if you pour some starter into a bowl (discard) and feed it with rye flour, you’ve just created a levain. Your original jar of sourdough starter (the mother) fed exclusively with white flour, remains untouched.
What’s the benefit of this technique? Portion control, flour control and flavor building.
Here’s the thing: most bakers use sourdough discard right away.
But if life happens, explore the following options below and see what works best for you.
In the Fridge:
Some bakers collect and save their sourdough discard overtime in the fridge. It’s kept in a sealed, airtight jar. This method is great for those who bake several times a week but cannot commit to using the discard right away.
In the Freezer:
Other bakers freeze their discard for prolonged use (I don’t). In my experience, you tend to forget it about unless you’re really organized. But nevertheless, the discard can be frozen in a small container and defrosted overnight in the fridge.
At room temperature (70 F), sourdough discard should last about 1-2 days. Beyond that, it won’t go bad necessarily, it will just become more acidic as time goes on (especially in warm weather). Not ideal for sweet recipes.
In the fridge, it will keep for about a week or so, and in the freezer it will last indefinitely.
This section is incredibly important.
If you’re reading chronologically, you already know what sourdough discard is, what it can be used for, how to store it etc.
But not all discard is created equal.
For baked goods with a mild, tangy depth of flavor similar to buttermilk, use sourdough discard that’s in relatively good condition.
What does that mean?
Your discard should smell tangy, but not putrid or rancid. It should look fresh, but not discolored with grey or pink spots. If there’s mold on it, just throw it away.
Here’s a real life scenario:
Let’s say you have about 1 cup of sourdough discard for pancakes. But you run out of time and can’t make them anymore. You put it in the fridge and go about your business.
A week later you’re ready to make the pancakes. But what does the discard look like now? Does it have a dark liquid on top? Does it smell like gym socks? Would it make to use it for pancakes?
Always follow your nose and use your judgement. If your discard doesn’t smell or look right, it’s most likely not.
Interestingly enough, many bakers actually have zero interest in sourdough discard recipes. It all boils down to what’s practical for the baker. Timing? Waste? Don’t like pancakes?
Here are a few tips to consider: Keep a smaller-sized starter to begin with. This way, you’ll discard less and use only what you need. Or, throw some in a jar (I use this one) and share some with a friend!
Whether you’re trying new recipes or passing it on to friend, understanding sourdough discard is the key to its versatility and sustainability.
And don’t forget: because there are so many variables when it comes to sourdough, feel free to experiment and see what works best for you. I’d love to hear your tips as well!
Now go make some sourdough pancakes (recipe below)! It’s the most popular discard recipe on my blog.
MORE SOURDOUGH DISCARD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE!
- Ultimate Sourdough Banana Bread (reader favorite!)
- Feeding Sourdough Starter: My Best Tips & Tricks
- Sourdough Blueberry Crumb Cake
- Sourdough Cinnamon Sugar Waffles
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