Beginner Guide: Sourdough Discard

What is Sourdough Discard?

Sourdough discard is a by-product of maintaining or “feeding” a sourdough starter. When feeding a starter, flour and water are combined with some of the starter to restart the fermentation cycle, but 80% of the original starter is discarded. This process is repeated daily (or weekly if you refrigerate your starter), which would lead to disposing of a lot of sourdough discard. The good news: Sourdough discard can be added to recipes that have been specifically created for their use. Some of my favorite recipes are ones that have been made for use with sourdough discard. Discard crackers, brown butter chocolate chunk cookies and these super popular discard rolls…I’m looking at you!

Click for more information about a Sourdough Starter and how to maintain one.

How do I store sourdough discard? How long does it last?

Sourdough discard should be stored in the refrigerator. Every time I discard some of my starter, I’ll add it to a sourdough crock I have sitting in my fridge. I like the look of the crock, but you can use any Tupperware with a lid to store discard. The longer the discard sits in your refrigerator, the more fermented and “sour” it gets. I don’t like to use discard that is more than one week old in discard recipes. After about a week, the discard can become very sour and impact the flavor of the discard recipe. If you like a strong fermented flavor, you might be okay with letting the discard sit another week. Typically, if I haven’t used up all my discard after one week, I will throw it away and start fresh the next week.


My personal discard routine:

I add discard to the jar continuously throughout the week, baking with it as time allows. Monday morning I clean out my discard jar from the fridge by making crackers or something else, or I throw it out and start with a clean jar the next week.


Is there anytime I shouldn’t use discard?

The only times you really shouldn’t use discard are these:

  1. When you are making a sourdough starter from scratch (before the starter is predictably rising and falling). You do not want to use the extra discard during this time. In that early phase, the discard is full of bacteria and yeast that have not yet achieved a symbiotic relationship and wouldn’t be good for you to eat. At this stage, you might feel like throwing out the discard is wasteful. However, consider the fact that you are in the process of creating a beautiful starter that will last forever – and that in the meantime the discard is simply not usable.
  2. Your discard has sat in the refrigerator for more than a week or two. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more fermented it will get. This can result in a flavor that is not so good. Eventually it could start to grow mold (though that may not happen for a few months). I prefer not to bake with sourdough discard more than 1 week old.

Have you tried these Sourdough Cheddar Biscuits? They are the perfect sourdough discard recipe!

How do I use discard in a recipe?

As you become more experienced with sourdough and baking with discard, you might develop a feel for how to use it in different recipes. However when you are starting out, I recommend to look for a recipe that is made specifically to use sourdough discard. Sourdough discard recipes will use a different method of leavening bread than sourdough–often using instant yeast or baking powder/baking soda. As a side note, most often discard recipes will call for 100% hydration discard–This means that the discard comes from sourdough starter that has been fed equal weights of flour and water. Add the discard in the recipe and follow the instructions.

These amazing discard banana bread recipes are family favorites and the perfect recipes to try with your sourdough discard.

Chocolate Banana Sourdough Muffins

Chock full of banana, oats and sourdough discard, these chocolate banana sourdough muffins are decadent and delicious. These muffins can be whipped up quickly and make the perfect sweet treat, breakfast or after school snack.

What is the gray liquid on top of my sourdough discard?

Hooch! It’s the byproduct or waste of the bacteria and yeast after they’ve digested all the flour in the sourdough starter. If you see this in your sourdough starter it means your starter is hungry and needs to be fed. It often shows up on discard left in the refrigerator. Pour the hooch into the sink, stir up your discard and use it. If your discard is over a week old, it may be time to throw it out or recognize that the hooch will give the discard a more sour flavor profile.

I have extra Levain. Can I add it to my discard jar?

Yes! Typically a levain is built for a specific dough with unique properties and so there won’t be much left over. If the levain is 100% hydration, you can add it directly to the discard in the fridge. If your levain is not 100% hydration or has other ingredients (like sugar or extra flour), it can still be added to your discard jar but may perform differently in some discard recipes. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of liquid or flour in a recipe if your discard is not 100% hydration.

I accidentally used up all my sourdough starter but I have discard. Can I save it?

Yes. Take a little bit of discard from your jar. Feed it as you would a sourdough starter. Continue this process for a couple of days until the starter is rising and falling predictably again. This is your new sourdough starter.

How can I substitute discard in a regular recipe?

If you have a favorite recipe that you want to substitute discard in, you have to do a little bit of bakers math. You’ll need to know the total grams of flour and liquid in the recipe and the total grams of flour and liquid in the amount of starter that you want to replace with discard. Subtract the grams of discard (flour and liquid) from the flour and liquid in the original recipe and try it out! I’m planning to write a whole post on this topic, but those are the bare bones. If you want to sub a little discard into waffles or pancakes, go ahead and do it. Using 1/4-1/3 cup of 100% hydration discard is not going to affect the texture of waffles or pancakes and will only add a yummy flavor.

Check out my most recent Sourdough Discard Recipes

Search “sourdough discard” recipes on my site or check out some of my latest sourdough discard recipes below.

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Hi! I’m Amy. Sourdough lover and Kentucky based mama, sharing my best recipes and tips, one bake at a time. So glad you’re here!

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4 responses to “Beginner Guide: Sourdough Discard”

  1. Nancy Avatar
    Nancy

    Do l need to let the sourdough discard warm up before using it in a recipe (ie discard crackers) ?

    1. Amy Avatar

      No. You can use it straight from the fridge for almost all discard recipes.

  2. […] shortcake. This sourdough strawberry shortcake is sweet, light, tender and uses up some of that sourdough discard you are constantly producing as a sourdough baker. Welcome summer and create lasting memories by […]

  3. […] Sourdough Discard: You can use fresh, bubbly sourdough starter if you want. If you don’t mind a more pronounced sourdough flavor, you can use refrigerated discard from up to a week or two old.  I always use 100% hydration sourdough discard. […]

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small amount from qualifying purchases.

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