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— Julia Child

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Some Disarded Sourdough Starter Recipes

Many methods of feeding sourdough, including some on our web page, have you feed your starter twice a day, discarding half the starter before you feed it. The reason for this is pretty simple - if you aren't using your starter and you feed it enough to double it in size twice a day, in 10 days you can go from a teaspoon of starter to a swimming pool full. And 12 hours later, you'll have two swimming pools full, really sore arms, and a truly annoyed neighbor.

As a result, there is a fair amount of interest in ways to do something with the discarded starter. One thing is to save it in another container, perhaps in the fridge, until you have enough to do something with. And this page is about those "somethings".

Before we get into that, this might be a good time to mention that there are ways of caring for a starter that have little, or no, wastage. We discussed that in a recent blog post and the Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips newsletter. (You can subscribe to the newsletter on our Subscribe page.) The article is in the 2019-08-12 Blog post.

Here are a few of our favorite sourdough discard recipes, we hope you enjoy them!

Blueberry Sourdough Muffins
Carrot Pineapple Sourdough Cupcakes
Lavash Crackers
Sourdough Pizza With Discarded Starter
Pancakes Made With Discarded Starter

New itemWhole Wheat Discarded Sourdough Starter Pancakes
Waffles Made With Discarded Starter

9 thoughts on “Discarded Starter Recipes”

  1. to avoid making any starter that needs to be discarded:
    use as much starter as neede for your current recipe, adding flour and water the night before as needed, BUT the important part is – when adding the starter to the dough, DO
    NOT scrape out the jar/container, but cover it tightly and put it back in the fridge.
    Then, when you want to make another recipe and you need, say, 150 grams of stsrter,
    add 75 gm flour +75 gm water to the reserved bottle from last week, or whenever – let it mix with the scrapings overnight at room temp and by the morning you have the starter you need for your current recipe. You can repeat this as long as you want. It saves a lot of flour.

    1. Hi Charles,
      I certainly can’t argue with your experience, but I view that more as a last ditch starter recovery attempt than a reliable way of maintaining a starter. I talk about this in the Reviving A Sourdough Starter post. Most of the environmental issues with starter, such as drying out, growing mold, or becoming contaminated, happen on the surface of the starter and your approach is, basically, all surface.

      My preference is to maintain a reasonable amount of starter. I talk about that in the 2019-08-12 A No Discard Way Of Feeding Starter article.

      -Mike

  2. My Mum, a traditional cook from Mestre in Italy, rarely discarded anything from the kitchen. Left over bread starter was kept in a great jar along with trimmings left from pasta, pie and pastry making to be turned into Calabrian pasta, calzone or Sunday’s gnocchi.
    Calabrian or southern pasta is made from water and flour and is suitable to be dried and stored and if you haven’t tried “sourdough pasta” you are missing out an a very subtle and healthy treat. Of course with Mum, being from Mestre in the north, she also made northern pasta and being only flour and eggs without even a drop of water for eating fresh to spoil, it she couldn’t use any of her left over starter in it.
    Today, in my eighties, I still hand make our bread and discard anything left over in my jar to make pasta, calzone and Sunday’s gnocchi; but now with refrigeration I can keep my jar in the fridge and freeze my northern pasta to eat next week and the week after.

      1. Has anyone tried using discarded starter in poolish? I’ve built up enough discarded starter to get a loaf or two out of.

        1. Poolish is a yeast process, not a sourdough one. You can use thicker or thinner starters, more or less starter, but it will not become a poolish.

          We talk about other preferments, poolish, biga and sponge in our cookbook, “Mastering Flavorful Breads“.

          -Mike

          1. Hi Rage,
            I’m always glad to hear that people are using their discards productively. I’d caution you that the biological activity level of a discarded starter can be uncertain. That could mean longer rise times, or impaired rise. Overall, using the discard as a source of acidity for a baking soda risen product seems more reliable.

            There are lots of stories on YouTube where people used discarded starter to raise great bread, but that’s not always the case. A few years back I took a course under Blair Martin at Barton Springs Mill where we made breads with many different strains of wheat. Blair gave us all some nicely refreshed starter to make our doughs. When she was ready to demonstrate a technique she realized she hadn’t refreshed enough starter, so she used some starter that had not been recently refreshed. When the smoke cleared, her loaf – made with the discarded starter – had not risen as well as a loaf made from the same flour and refreshed starter, and the loaf was not as well browned. So, if you’re not happy with the loaves made with discarded starter, perhaps it would help to refresh it a time or two first.
            -Mike

  3. Another fun thing to do with leftover starter is fried chicken! Just add an egg or two to the discard and use to dredge between (seasoned, please) flour coatings, bake or fry and it is a delightful thing! Kind of like using buttermilk, that same lactic acid flavor.

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