Do You Need To Discard Sourdough Starter?

Published on
06 October 2020
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

If you are following my sourdough starter recipe or any other, you’re going to be asked to discard some of your starter. It seems wasteful to throw a portion of dough away all the time, so let’s cover why we have to discard and if it’s possible to make a starter without any discard?

What is the purpose of discarding?

When we feed the starter with fresh flour and water we want to ensure that we push the sourdough to its maximum. Giving it too little food will be too easy for it and it won’t develop its activity as much as we want. So to prevent ending up with a massive amount of starter that we cannot use we discard some before we refresh it. 

Discard the starter

If we made a sourdough starter without discarding it would be massive after a week of feeding! Once the sourdough starter is activated we can reduce or even eliminate the amount of discard we have by changing the feeding method. You can see a selection of feeding routines in the how to make a sourdough starter guide that will reduce (or remove) the need to discard.

Can I make a sourdough starter without discard?

You will have to discard the starter initially to build up the activity of the wild yeasts and organic acids. Once it is established you can reduce or even remove discard waste, see the zero waste feeding method

Can I use discard for something?

Yes, there are recipes for crackers, crumpets and flatbreads available. You could also chuck in discard into a yeasted dough recipe to enhance the properties of the dough. You’ll need to lower the water in the recipe if doing this.

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To find out more about sourdough baking for the first time, view the sourdough bread recipe for beginners. It’ll help you to get started in sourdough baking right away.

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