Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (2024)

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard - are they really different things, or just one of the same? If you're just beginning your sourdough journey by making your own sourdough starter, you might be wondering what sourdough discard is? And whether it's the same as sourdough starter or something completely different?

It's a question I get asked on a daily basis in my Facebook Group of over 140,000 people.

Sourdough discard is the unfed portion of your sourdough starter that you remove before you add fresh flour and water. Because of it's unfed state, it's not used to bake the delicious bread you know as sourdough, but more often than not, used insourdough discard recipes.

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (1)

Now, as with most things related to sourdough, there's always a bit more to it, so if you'd like to know more about the wonder that is sourdough discard, you'll find the answers to all your questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sourdough Discard

Is sourdough discard the same as starter?

Sourdough discard is not exactly the same as the active sourdough starter. The starter is a mixture of flour and water that captures wild yeast and bacteria over time, creating a leavening agent for bread.

On the other hand, sourdough discard refers to the portion of the starter that is removed and discarded before feeding the remaining starter during regular maintenance. It contains some of the fermented mixture but may not be as active as a fully refreshed starter.

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (2)

Can sourdough discard be used as starter?

While sourdough discard can't replace an active starter in a recipe that relies on a robust leavening agent, it can be revitalized and used to create a new starter. By feeding the discard with fresh flour and water over a few consecutive feedings, the microbial activity can be restored, eventually turning it into a viable and active sourdough starter.

If using sourdough discard in place of active sourdough starter, you will generally need to use some commercial yeast to add leavening power, unless the starter your discard is from is very mature and you allow extra fermentation time.

What is the point of using sourdough discard?

The use of sourdough discard serves both practical and culinary purposes. Practically, discarding a portion of the starter during regular feedings helps maintain a manageable quantity, preventing the starter from growing excessively.

Culinary-wise, sourdough discard can be used in various recipes such aspancakes,waffles,muffins, sourdough pasta andquick breadslike sourdough banana bread to impart a tangy flavor, reduce food waste, and add complexity of flavor to your baked goods. 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 theseno wait sourdough recipes,overnight sourdough discard recipesandsourdough discard recipes that use up a lot of discard.

What happens if you don't discard your sourdough starter?

If you don't discard a portion of your sourdough starter regularly, the quantity of the starter will increase, and it may become impractical to maintain.

Additionally, the microbial balance within the starter may shift, potentially affecting the flavor and leavening capacity of your sourdough.It becomes very acidic when you don't discard your starter and this can affect gluten development and oven spring.

Regular discard and feeding help keep the starter healthy, vibrant, and ready to contribute to successful and flavorful sourdough bread.

You can read more aboutwhy you must discard sourdough starter here.

Does Sourdough Discard have the same benefits of Sourdough Starter?

Technically, sourdough discard has the same benefits as sourdough starter, since they are both wild yeast ferments. In terms of beneficial lactic acid bacteria, natural yeastsacetic acid and colonies of microbes, they are both full of them.

The difference is that because sourdough discard is unfed, and you generally use it in recipes that also have a quick leavening agent added, you don't get the long fermentation benefits of discard like you do when using active sourdough starter.

You can find more information on this topic in this article - are sourdough discard recipes really healthy?

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (4)

Can You Use Sourdough Discard To Start Another Sourdough Starter?

Technically, yes you can use sourdough discard to start another starter, however I advise against this unless you have a mature sourdough starter that you are wanting to share with family and friends. Then you can portion off a little discard that they can feed.

If you have a young sourdough starter, using the discard to start another sourdough starter is pointless, since then you are using even more flour to essentially feed two immature starters. You're better off using all your resources tocreate one healthy and active starter, rather than maintaining two starters.

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (5)

Can sourdough discard be stored for later use?

You canstore sourdough discard in the fridgefor up to 2 weeks. It's fine to leave it on the counter for up 24 hours, however if you aren't planning to use it straight away it's always better to store it in the fridge.

You can continue to add sourdough starter from different days to the same jar.

Can sourdough discard be frozen for later use?

Absolutelyyou can freeze sourdough discard for later use.It's best to freeze sourdough discard in small portions (like 50 to 100g) so that you can thaw only what you need for a particular sourdough recipe.

The caveat here is that if you are creating so much sourdough discard that you need to freeze it to keep up with it, I would advise that you need to reduce the amount of flour and water you're feeding your sourdough starter, and thus the overall size of your sourdough starter.

Can I compost sourdough discard?

Yes you can add your sourdough discard to the compost heap. It's a welcome addition to any compost heap because it's teaming with natural microbes.

It is also fine to place into a bokashi bucket. Sourdough discard is also a wonderful fertisiler for indoor and outdoor plants. You can find instructions forusing sourdough discard in the garden here.

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (6)
Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? (2024)

FAQs

Sourdough Starter vs Sourdough Discard: What's The Difference? ›

The difference is that because sourdough discard is unfed, and you generally use it in recipes that also have a quick leavening agent added, you don't get the long fermentation benefits of discard like you do when using active sourdough starter.

Is sourdough discard the same as starter? ›

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.

Can you make sourdough starter from discard? ›

Can I use sourdough discard to make a new sourdough starter? Absolutely! You can take a portion of sourdough discard and add a few grams of flour and a few grams of water to create a healthy active sourdough starter. You may need to feed your revived starter a few more times before its ready to make bread.

Can I use an active starter instead of discard? ›

Absolutely you can! Active starter can be used in the same way as sourdough discard in sweet or savory baking. You can add active sourdough starter to any recipe you would add discard to following the same calculation.

What happens to sourdough starter if you don't discard? ›

If you don't get rid of the excess, eventually you'll have more starter than your feedings can sustain. After a few days, your daily 1/4 cup flour and water won't be enough to sustain your entire jar of starter, and your starter will be slow and sluggish, not much better than discard itself.

Can I add to sourdough starter without discarding? ›

Once the sourdough starter is established on day 8, all you have to do is just give it flour and water. You no longer need to discard half of it.

What are the benefits of sourdough discard? ›

Why Use Sourdough Discard? Using sourdough discard in your recipes is a great way to add a subtle tangy flavor to your baked goods. It can also add extra moisture to your recipes, making them super tender and delicious. Plus, it's a fantastic way to reduce waste and make the most of your sourdough starter.

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.

Can you bring sourdough discard back to life? ›

Absolutely! A jar of sourdough discard serves as an insurance policy against starter death. If you have some discard on hand, remove a spoonful of it and feed it fresh flour and water in a clean jar. You should have a bubbly starter ready to bake with after a couple of feedings, depending on the discard's condition.

How long can you keep sourdough discard before it goes bad? ›

Sourdough discard only lasts a day or two at room temperature. As such, it is best to keep your discard in the fridge, where it will last for up to one week. Of course, you can only rely on it lasting that long if you store it correctly.

How do you know if you have sourdough discard? ›

Sourdough discard will tend to be more runny than active starter because it's used all of its food and has started to collapse. It will still be bubbly, but not airy like active starter.

What to do with a lot of sourdough discard? ›

What to do with sourdough discard? Don't throw it away! Instead, use it to make delicious and nutritious treats like pancakes, waffles, muffins, and bread. Sourdough discard is a great source of natural yeast and flavor, and can add a unique tangy taste to your baked goods.

Can you reuse discarded sourdough starter? ›

CAN SOURDOUGH DISCARD BE USED TO MAKE A NEW STARTER? Yes! The amount you pour off can be fed in a separate bowl to create a new starter or “levain.”

What is the difference between sourdough discard and 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 leave sourdough discard out overnight? ›

I left my sourdough discard out at room temperature for a few days. Is it okay? As long as your kitchen isn't too warm (I'd say 78°F or higher) your starter/discard will be fine stored at room temperature for at least a few days without feeding. The flavor will get more acidic the longer it sits.

Why throw away half of sourdough starter? ›

If you don't discard your sourdough starter, it will grow too big and be unmanageable. Not to mention you will go through an unmentionable amount of flour.

Can you use sourdough discard immediately? ›

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.

Is sourdough discard still good? ›

My advice is to use discard within one week. This is because after a week, it will start to taste very sour and become very acidic. You probably don't want to use old sourdough discard in a sweet discard recipe as it will produce a sour tasting product.

What can I use as a replacement for sourdough discard? ›

Ingredients and Substitutions

Sourdough discard: If you don't sourdough discard saved up, feel free to use active sourdough starter. If you don't have a strater, add 56 grams of flour and 56 grams of water to your dough.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated:

Views: 5768

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.