When I first started making sourdough bread, I religiously followed the instructions from everyone on the internet to discard half my sourdough starter when I fed it. I obeyed because everything I read made it sound as if I didn’t then I would end up with a lazy, unhealthy starter. And nobody wants that.
After working with starter and sourdough for a few years now, and playing around with all the ways it can be used, I have found that I wasted A LOT of precious, usable sourdough.
Oh sure, in the beginning when I was more confused than confident, I probably wouldn’t have even tried all the recipes I use it for today. So I understand that for a short time throwing away my discard was the best course of action. But after a few months, as my confidence grew and I became a bit more daring, I could have been using it in my recipes. If only more sourdough bakers had encouraged it. It seems too few bakers use discard, in my humble opinion.
So, I’m here today to STRONGLY encourage, no, beg you to save and refrigerate your precious discard, and here’s why.
Three reasons to save and refrigerate your discard
- There are so many recipes where you can replace active starter with discard. Those less finicky recipes that say your starter must be active might turn out great when using discard. Also, using discard means never having to wait for your starter to become ready and active. Be daring, try it. What’s the worst that can happen? You won’t die.
- Since the world turned upside down in 2020 food scarcity is a reality. We are continuously being threatened with food shortages. The price of flour is rising, as it is for all food, and carelessly throwing food out has become increasingly – what’s the word? Oh yeah – stupid.
- Discard is the part of your dough that’s been fermented the longest and therefore easiest on those who eat gluten-free. I can make pasta with discard and my gluten-free family members get to eat really good pasta without fear of repercussion from their digestive tract later.
Here’s a few tips
Here’s what I’ve been doing and it works great for me. Remember, my way may not be for you and that’s okay. It’s your kitchen run it how you like. As always, do what makes sense for your family.
I feed my starter daily and leave it on the counter. I rarely run into a hard crusty surface when I feed it but if so I scrape it off and throw it away, Just the surface and as little as possible. I have this glass container I keep in the refrigerator which holds my discard.
I take my discard container out of the refrigerator and open it. Then I place half of my starter to one side in this container. I don’t put it on top because then I would only use the newest discard when baking. I mark the side I put the newest discard on and when baking take from the opposite side. Then I feed my starter as usual.
If I plan on using the discard that day, I’ll leave the covered container on the counter so it warms up a bit. If not back in the refrigerator it goes.
Easy, peasy and I have been spending less on flour since I started doing this. I’ve also been making a greater variety of sourdough items which has been fun and interesting.
Start saving your discard and you’ll be happy you did. I have a growing discard recipe category to get you started.