If you’re one of the thousands of people that have recently started baking with sourdough, you know that feeding the starter is a big part of the process. So much so that it almost starts to seem like a pet, especially after you’ve named it (Jane Dough, in case you were wondering). So it feels wasteful (and a little disrespectful) to throw so much of it away every day. Dealing with the discard is one of the main reasons most people don’t bother keeping up with sourdough, but the process can be easier than you think. All you need are some great sourdough discard recipes to use up the excess!
What Is Sourdough Discard?
If you’ve read our guide to making a sourdough starter, you know that discarding is a healthy part of the starter process. Sourdough needs to be fed—1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water for every 1/2 cup starter. The more starter you have, the more you’ll have to feed it. Removing half of the starter (the portion known as the sourdough discard) keeps the flour and water to a minimum while keeping the yeast from competing for food. Not only that, it prevents you from ending up with a massive amount of starter, which could quickly take over your kitchen counter! So it’s important to remove the discard to keep your starter happy, healthy and thriving.
What Can You Do with Sourdough Discard?
You don’t have to physically discard the excess just because you’re removing it from the starter. Keep your sourdough discard in a covered jar in the fridge and use it for any number of tasty recipes. In the discard state, it’s not vibrant enough to make a loaf of bread rise, but it can be fed before being used to give it extra rise. Even if you use it straight from the jar, it will add tangy, acidic flavor to your favorite baked goods.
Give your favorite homemade crackers a boost of tangy flavor by adding sourdough discard to the dough. Find a cracker recipe and add 120 grams of sourdough starter, or about half a cup. To compensate for the added ingredient, reduce the recipe’s flour and water by 60 grams each, or about 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
These soft, fluffy sourdough biscuits get a boost of flavor by adding a cup of discard. Try our Test Kitchen-approved recipe, or play around with your own recipe. Just make sure to reduce the flour and buttermilk quantities if you’re experimenting.
You may never get store-bought crescent rolls again after you try this recipe! The dough uses both yeast and sourdough to make the rolls fluffy and flavorful. We stuff them with ham and hard-boiled eggs but feel free to get creative with the stuffing.
This recipe requires a little bit of preparation, but it’s a great way to turn your sourdough discard into a winning dish. After feeding the discard and letting it rise overnight, you’ll mix the dough, form the muffins and let them double in size for about 45 minutes. Then griddle them to golden-brown perfection!
This recipe honestly couldn’t be easier. Simply feed your discard the night before you plan to make pancakes. Then, add sugar, salt, eggs and baking soda, along with any extra flavorings like pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract or berry-flavored yogurt. If you don’t already know how to cook the perfect pancake, check out our tips for making pancakes better.
Sourdough discard makes a fantastic addition to quick breads and breakfast cakes like banana bread, zucchini bread and our favorite: applesauce cake. Applesauce and sourdough were practically made for each other! This cake tastes incredible on its own, and it only gets better when it’s glazed with a sweet and buttery icing.
How Long Can You Keep Sourdough Discard?
You don’t feed your sourdough discard, so it definitely won’t live forever (even when stored in the refrigerator). We usually give ours a month—tops—before tossing it in the compost or the trash. Never flush it down the drain because it can clog your pipes, and keep in mind that its flavor will get a little funkier over time.
If you can’t use up all the sourdough discard in time, and you’re not baking bread every day, use this trick to stop feeding your starter: Store the sourdough starter, covered, in the refrigerator. In these cool temperatures, your starter can survive for up to two weeks before it needs another feeding.