Your sourdough starter is the cornerstone of delicious and healthy sourdough bread baking. But, it's also a source for a never-ending accumulation of starter discard. The good news is you can use this excess starter in any of the following sourdough starter discard recipes. This discard gives you even more delicious things to make in the kitchen!
What is Sourdough Starter Discard?
To keep your sourdough starter healthy, you need to provide it with fresh flour and water on a schedule. Each time you refresh (feed) your starter, you must discard some of the fully-fermented mixture in the jar. Discarding helps keep the acidity low in your sourdough culture, which keeps it strong and healthy. If you didn't discard, you'd also eventually have an unwieldily sum.
You can always use this discard by directly mixing it into a dough for baking. Your discard, as long as it's in good shape, will leaven any bread dough just as well. The discard is just like a levain you would make for a recipe. The only difference is it's the same makeup as your starter.
You might see sourdough starter discard as waste—after all, you probably compost or toss it more often than not. However, I see it in a different light: it's the byproduct of keeping your beneficial bacteria and wild yeast healthy.
And so we refresh our starter each day (I refresh (feed) my starter twice a day since I bake often). When you frequently refresh, especially if you keep your starter at room temperature, you're ensuring your culture is healthy and vigorous. Frequent refreshments also help avoid an overly acidic mixture, which can deteriorate its fitness over time.
But just because we refresh and discard often, doesn't mean we can't use the discard (like in focaccia!) or collect it and use it later. Let's look at saving up sourdough starter discard.
Saving Up Discard
One of my favorite things to do is save my sourdough starter discard through the week in the refrigerator. Each day when I refresh my sourdough starter, instead of taking that starter discard and throwing it in the compost, I put it in a tall Weck jar (without the clips, but covered) in the refrigerator.
This jar is full of discards by the weekend and ready to be used in many of the recipes below. Typically, I'll use some for sourdough waffles or pancakes on Saturday and either blueberry muffins or banana bread on Sunday. Making this “starter cache” means that, I'll have little to no sourdough starter discard going into the compost bin for a given week.
Sourdough Discard Recipes
And more sourdough starter discard recipes are yet to come. If you didn't see what you were looking for, please leave a comment below and I'll get test-baking!