How to Use Sourdough Discard (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Jessica Vogl · This post may contain affiliate links · 2 Comments

Now that you know how to feed your sourdough starter, you might find yourself with a good bit of sourdough discard, especially if you're making a new sourdough starter! The good news is, you can put this discard to good use! In this post, we'll walk through why and how to use your sourdough discard (instead of throwing it away), which can add a wonderful flavor and additional lift to your recipes.

How to Use Sourdough Discard (1)

Before you go further in this post, you will need to have a sourdough starter. If you do not have one, you have a few options: you can make your own with this sourdough starter recipe, you can buy a sourdough starter, or you can get one from a friend or neighbor who is willing to give you some of their discard to make a new starter. Check out these posts for in-depth guides on how to feed sourdough starter and tips for struggling sourdough starter.

Jump to:
  • What is sourdough discard?
  • Why do you have to discard?
  • What can you do with sourdough discard?
  • How to store sourdough discard
  • Why should you bake with sourdough discard?
  • Sourdough discard recipes
  • How do you know if your sourdough discard has gone bad?
  • Sourdough Discard FAQ
How to Use Sourdough Discard (2)

What is sourdough discard?

Sourdough discard is what you have leftover after you feed your sourdough starter.

When you feed your sourdough starter, you measure out a portion of the starter, then add fresh flour and water. The portion of the starter that you didn't use or feed is the discard. You can either literally discard this (in the compost or trash), or use it for sourdough discard recipes. It has fermented, so it has some natural yeast and will be an added lift and a bit of sourdough flavor for your baking recipes.

Why do you have to discard?

Your sourdough starter grows quickly and can double in size in a single day (especially when it's very active). If you do not discard, the starter will become very large very quickly and you'll need to feed it with 2x the ingredients with every feeding. That will get out of control very quickly!

Discarding keeps your starter at a manageable size. This also allows you to feed your starter with the same amount of ingredients (flour and water) for each feeding.

Note: If you are baking with active sourdough starter, you likely won't need to discard! Discarding is for when you feed your starter without baking with it at the same time.

What can you do with sourdough discard?

Once you have sourdough discard, there are a few things you can do with it:

  • Discard it:As the name suggests, you can literally discard it. DO NOT put this down your sink drain as it will harden into something close to cement and will clog your pipes. Either compost or throw the discard in the trash.
  • Use it immediately for baking:If you are going to bake something right away (same day), you can keep the discard at room temperature until you're ready to bake. Cover it with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out until you're ready to use it. Check out a few of my favoritesourdough discard recipes here.
  • Store it for future baking:You can store sourdough discard in an airtight container in the refrigerator for future baking withsourdough discard recipes. When you're ready to use it, let the discard come to room temperature before using it to bake.
    • I will keep sourdough discard in the fridge for about one week. I do know others that keep it much longer. The longer you keep it, the higher the risk of the discard growing mold or bad bacteria.
  • Make another starter:If you want to have a second starter, you can feed the discard as well, and make another starter!
  • Give it to someone to make their own starter:If you want to give someone some of your sourdough starter, you can give them discard! Feed your sourdough starter as normal, then give away the discard to a lucky friend or neighbor. Make sure to leave them with instructions on how to feed it.

How to store sourdough discard

If you are going to use the discard immediately (within the same day), you can keep the discard at room temperature. This can either be in an airtight container, or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. It will then be ready to go when you start your recipe.

If you are going to use the sourdough discard for future baking (within one week), store the discard in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This could be in a sealed jar (I love these Weck jars) or container. Feed your starter as often as you like and accumulate the discard in this container until you're ready to bake. When you are ready to bake, remove the discard from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

I recommend keeping sourdough discard for up to one week. If needed, mark the date on the container in your refrigerator. After one week, there is a higher chance of the discard growing bad bacteria or mold.

How to Use Sourdough Discard (3)

Why should you bake with sourdough discard?

Baking with sourdough discard helps to eliminate some of the waste of a sourdough starter (if you have one, you know how much flour you can go through!). You've put a lot of time and ingredients into making that sourdough starter, and it's a shame to throw so much of that away! The good news is that you don't have to. Baking with sourdough discard also adds a great slightly sour flavor and additional lift to your baked goods.

When you are baking with sourdough discard, it should always be at room temperature (to help the dough rise), and unfed (i.e. this is the discard, not the fed part of your starter).

Every sourdough starter (and therefore, the discard), is different. If you're baking and you feel like your dough is too wet / too dry, add more water or flour (in 1 Tablespoon increments) to reach your desired dough consistency.

Sourdough discard recipes

Below are a few of my favorite sourdough discard recipes. These are a great way to use up some of the sourdough discard that you have, while making a delicious baked good!

We're adding more all the time, but leave a comment below if there is something you'd like to see that we don't have a recipe for yet!

  • Sourdough Discard Bagels
  • Sourdough Discard Garlic Pull Apart Bread
  • Sourdough Discard Pretzels
  • Sourdough Discard Pretzel Bites
  • Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls
  • Sourdough Discard Pizza Dough
  • Sourdough Discard Garlic Rolls
  • Sourdough Discard Waffles

See moresourdough discard recipes →

How do you know if your sourdough discard has gone bad?

I recommend keeping sourdough discard for about one week, but I do know others who keep it for much longer. After one week, there is a higher risk of mold or bad bacteria growing on the discard.

Signs of mold could look like:

  • Traditional green / black mold: This is the traditional green, black, or grey fuzzy mold that we all know. If you see this, time to throw it away.
  • Pink or orange streaks: This is another way that mold can present itself in the discard. Watch out for pink or orange spots or streaks in the discard. If you see this, time to throw it away.

A good rule of thumb: If you feel like your discard is "off" in any way (color, smell, anything), discard it. It's not worth messing with mold. You will always have more sourdough discard!

Sourdough Discard FAQ

What is the liquid on top of my sourdough discard?

You may see a murky liquid form on the top of your sourdough discard, especially if it has been sitting a while. This is the hooch (completely normal and harmless) and means that your discard is hungry (completely normal, because you're not feeding it!). Before using your discard, pour off this liquid. You can also mix it back into the discard, if you prefer.

How long can I keep sourdough discard?

I recommend keeping sourdough discard for up to one week. After that point, there is a higher risk of bad bacteria or mold growing.

How often should I feed my sourdough starter?

I recommend feeding your starter at least once per week. Check out this post for an in-depth guide on how to feed sourdough starter.

Is baking with sourdough discard the same as baking with active sourdough starter?

No. Active sourdough starter has an active yeast culture, whereas sourdough discard is inactive. If you're baking with sourdough discard, you will need to use a leavening agent (likely, yeast) to ensure the dough rises predictably.

What will adding sourdough discard do to a recipe?

Using sourdough discard in a recipe will give it a slightly sour tang (like sourdough bread), and give it some additional lift from the natural yeast.

What should I do if my sourdough starter is struggling?

Check out this in-depth post with tips for struggling sourdough starter.

More Sourdough Discard Recipes

  • Sourdough Discard Strawberry Cake
  • Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Roll Focaccia
  • Sourdough Starter Recipe
  • Sourdough Discard Shortbread Cookies

Reader Interactions


  1. Nicole

    What happens if you never discard and just continue to feed whatever is in your starter jar/use only fresh starter?


    • Jessica Vogl

      If you never discard, keep feeding and you don’t use any of the starter, you’ll end up with a massive starter. If you do use fresh starter for baking and continue to feed what remains, that’s fine!


Leave a Reply

How to Use Sourdough Discard (2024)


What can I do with my sourdough discard? ›

This question gets asked so often in my Facebook Group of over 190,000 sourdough bakers - in fact, sourdough discard recipes are the most popular recipes shared in the group. The sourdough discard recipes that use the most sourdough discard are sourdough discard waffles, muffins, crackers, pie crust and pizza dough.

How soon can you start using sourdough discard? ›

Remember, you can't use the discard from your homemade sourdough starter for the first 7 days. You can use sourdough discard in all kinds of sourdough discard recipes, including these no wait sourdough recipes, overnight sourdough discard recipes and sourdough discard recipes that use up a lot of discard.

What is the benefit of baking with sourdough discard? ›

Benefits of using sourdough discard

Flavor: Sourdough adds a delicious, nuanced flavor to desserts and savory baked goods. It adds a slight sour flavor without making them taste too off putting or acidic.

Can I use sourdough discard straight from the fridge? ›

Can I use my sourdough discard straight out of the fridge to refresh my starter? Yes! You do not need to warm it up first. Just grab what you need and do your refreshing!

Is eating sourdough discard healthy? ›

Sourdough discard recipes not only reduce waste but also offer health benefits, making them a wonderful addition to a balanced diet. The fermentation process of the sourdough starter increases the availability of certain nutrients and can help improve digestion.

Can you eat raw sourdough discard? ›

No, it's not advisable to eat raw sourdough starter. While some people claim to have healed their gut problems by eating probiotic rich sourdough starter, it's not really advisable. Raw sourdough starter contains uncooked flour which can harbor harmful bacteria among other things.

How to tell if sourdough discard is bad? ›

You can store mature sourdough discard in the refrigerator indefinitely. As long as there is no mold, it is good to use. It may develop a grayish liquid on top called “hooch” which can be poured off before use or stirred in. If you stir it in, the flavor will become more sour.

Does sourdough discard have to be active to use? ›

One note: Don't start using your discard until your starter is really up and running. In other words, if you've just started your starter and it's not yet established, then you shouldn't save that discard. Wait until you have a healthy, active sourdough starter, then keep any discard from routine feedings.

What is the difference between sourdough discard and sourdough starter? ›

I would say the best way to differentiate between discard and active starter is that active starter is starter that has doubled and peaked whereas discard is any starter that is not the main starter and is not being used in an active sourdough recipe as a leavening agent.

Can I bake with cold sourdough discard? ›

You can utilize a cold starter in any sourdough discard recipe. These recipes don't require a sourdough starter for leavening, so you can use your starter directly from the fridge. These recipes offer a fantastic solution for using excess sourdough.

Does sourdough discard smell? ›

At this stage, the starter has fallen to a smaller volume, looks like a thick liquid, may have some very small bubbles, and has a more sour smell or overripe fruit. A really old batch of discard will smell like acetone or nail polish remover. Discard has many uses, which I'll give an overview of in a future post.

What to do with first day sourdough discard? ›

You can always use this discard by directly mixing it into a dough for baking. Your discard, as long as it's in good shape, will leaven any bread dough just as well. The discard is just like a levain you would make for a recipe.

What is the difference between starter and discard? ›

Only a small portion of the sourdough starter is reserved and fed during each feeding, the rest is referred to as discard, since typically it is thrown away. In efforts to reduce waste, discard is often collected from multiple feedings and stored in the fridge until enough is allotted to be used for discard recipes.

How much starter to discard before feeding? ›

Remove and discard half of your sourdough starter from the jar. Feed what's left in the jar with equal parts flour and water by weight (1:1:1 feeding ratio). You need a digital kitchen scale for this. Because we all work with different quantities of starters, this 1:1:1 feeding ratio is best understood by example.

Does sourdough starter discard go bad? ›

It will become very sour and acidic after just a few days on the counter. As it is basically unfed sourdough starter, left unfed it will deteriorate and eventually be taken over by harmful bacteria a mold. What is this? Stored in the fridge, sourdough discard will go to sleep and last a lot longer.

How long can you keep sourdough discard on counter? ›

Room temperature sourdough discard should be used, refrigerated, or thrown away after 36-48 hours. Sourdough discard can be kept in the fridge for weeks, BUT it continues to get sourer as time passes.

Can I freeze sourdough discard? ›

While you could use discard, an active fresh starter that has been recently fed will yield the best results. Only freeze a mature starter. A new starter will not have enough established lactic acid bacteria and live yeast to make it healthy enough for freezing.

Can sourdough discard be used as fertilizer? ›

Teaming with good bacteria and microbes your soil and plants will love, your fermented sourdough starter could be the best homemade fertiliser you've ever used! You can use sourdough discard in your garden in the following ways: Use diluted sourdough discard as a liquid nutrient boost.


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