The Problem With Discard

The Problem With Discard

 Before feeding our starters, we always need to pour off discard to make more room for fresh flour and water. This keeps the starter active and healthy (see Martha's Formula for a Healthy Starter).

However, since we only need one part starter and two parts each of water and flour, you can imagine that if we did not pour some off, the starter would expand beyond any container you store it in. And as Martha points out, "if you did not discard, you would soon have a bathtub full of it."

Either way there is going to be an ever increasing volume of discard, so the question comes:  what to do with your ever growing container of discard?

This question comes up with many participants who have take taken one of Abigail's Oven sourdough classes.  Our answer is simple, discard doesn't have to go to waste! 

Martha's Formula for a Healthy Starter

Once a day discard all but: 

  • 1/4 cup[ 60g] starter.
Then mix in:
  • 1/2 cup[120g] spring water.
  • 3/4 heaping cup[120g] of the flour with which you make your bread.


There are many creative and delicious ways to use discard in the kitchen. 

Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Make pancakes or waffles
    Sourdough discard can be used in place of buttermilk or yogurt in pancake and waffle recipes to add a tangy flavor and fluffy texture. But remember is you add additional flour, 
  2. Bake bread
    Sourdough discard can be added to bread recipes to enhance the flavor and rise of the dough. Just be sure to adjust the amount of flour and water accordingly (for each cup [240g] of 100% hydrated starter, remove ½ cup [120g] of water and flour each).
  3. Make crackers
    Mix sourdough discard with flour, oil, and seasonings to create crispy and flavorful crackers.
  4. Flavor dips and spreads
    Add sourdough discard to hummus, dip, or spread recipes for a tangy and complex flavor.
  5. Feed other baked goods
    Sourdough discard can be added to muffins, cakes, and cookies to add depth of flavor and moisture.

Search the internet for other discard recipes, and you'll be surprised at how many recipes there are. In fact, as you browse the you will actually find more recipes for sourdough discard than for bread. That way you can experiment and have fun with discard!  (NOTE: If you are after the best levels of gluten mitigation, then always used a long, overnight ferment for any recipe you try.) 


    Are There Health Benefits in Discard?

    Yes, there are actually several health benefits to using sourdough discard in your cooking and baking.

    • Sourdough discard is rich in probiotics, which can help promote a healthy gut microbiome and improve digestion.
    • It's also a good source of fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and promote feelings of fullness.
    • Additionally, sourdough discard contains a range of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, and zinc, which are important for maintaining overall health and wellbeing.
    So the next time you have some sourdough discard on hand, consider using it in a recipe to boost its nutritional value and reap the health benefits.

    It really does seem wasteful to toss discard out . And why would you want to squander that unique tangy flavor when it can be used in so many baked goods?  But if it all is just too much, give you can even give your compost heap some. 

    "It’s perfectly fine to compost sourdough starter. If anything, it will actually add more good microbes to your compost! Since it’s pretty wet and gooey, try to mix and/or bury the starter with leaves, straw, or other 'browns' in the compost pile."—Deanna at Homestead and Chill


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