Since sourdough starter has to be fed to keep it alive, you often end up with extra. Here are lots of great sourdough discard recipes to help you put that extra starter to good use!
What can you do with sourdough discard?
Do you have extra sourdough starter beginning to accumulate? Don’t throw it away! There are so many delicious ways to use up that extra sourdough starter.
I love using sourdough starter anywhere I would normally need some flour. Non fermented grains are harder to digest, so using sourdough discard ensures that you have prepared grains in your recipe, and solves that dilemma perfectly (source). Let me share all the sourdough discard recipes I love to make.
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Can I use sourdough starter straight from the fridge?
I go through seasons of sourdough baking. Sometimes, when I’m in the mood to bake a lot, I keep it out on the counter and feed it every day. I show you how to make a sourdough starter from scratch here, and I have a recipe for Nourishing Traditions sourdough bread here, and some sourdough hamburger buns here.
When I’m taking a break, I keep my starter in the fridge and feed it less often. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, can I use sourdough starter straight from the fridge? With a lot of these recipes, you can! Let’s jump in and look at all the ways to use sourdough discard.
Waffles and Pancakes
These make a really quick and filling breakfast or snack. Just add some eggs, a pinch of salt, and a little melted butter. Or try this super simple sourdough pancakes recipe.
You can do these with cold sourdough starter straight from the fridge, but if you do that, you might want to add some baking soda to help them rise more. If you use active starter, the pancakes will rise nicely on their own.
Here’s my formula I usually follow: For every 1 cup of sourdough discard, I add 1 egg, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
These are really nice when you want some variety from pancakes. They’re also a good way to eat more eggs, if you want more variety in your eggs for breakfast. This is another one that you can make with starter straight from the fridge.
For 1 cup of sourdough starter, add 4-6 eggs, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and enough milk to thin the batter.
I love having a healthy cracker option on hand for lunches and snacks. This recipe specifically works best with cold, unfed sourdough discard, straight from the fridge. You can add dried herbs for even more flavor!
Mix 1 cup sourdough starter with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons avocado oil. Spread mixture in a thin layer on parchment paper, and bake at 325ºF for about 45 minutes until golden brown.
Battery for frying
Can you fry sourdough starter? Yes! It makes the perfect batter for making fried foods. You avoid unfermented grains, which you would normally have in a batter recipe, so the batter is more easily digestible this way. This works with cold starter straight from the fridge.
Add some salt and pepper and spices, if you want, and use as you would any other batter for frying. My favorite fat for frying is beef tallow. Read all about beef tallow benefits here.
This sourdough discard recipe for dumplings works best if you have pretty thick starter. It also is the perfect way to have properly prepared grains in dumplings.
Mix some salt, pepper, and any spices you want to use into sourdough starter. Drop spoonfuls into pot of soup, and allow to cook for at least 10 minutes, depending on size. If you want to learn how to make Nourishing Traditions chicken bone broth for your soup, check out my recipe here.
White sauces, gravy
Again, this is a brilliant way to have the grains you use to thicken sauces already fermented for easy digestion. This is also another sourdough discard recipe that works great with cold, unfed starter straight from the fridge.
Just substitute sourdough starter for the flour you would normally use to thicken your white sauce, gravy, or anytime you want to thicken a recipe.
Pie or skillet topping
You can make delicious toppings for one dish skillet dinners or pies, or top desserts like cobblers with sourdough starter. For dessert type dishes, you can add some sweetener to the sourdough mixture, or leave it out.
Mix a few eggs, a little salt, a couple tablespoons of melted butter, and 1 or 2 teaspoons of baking powder into 1-2 cups of fed sourdough starter. Pour it over the top of the dish. Bake at 400ºF for 20-30 minutes, and enjoy.
You can substitute the flour in some cookie recipes for sourdough starter. This is another great way to enjoy the benefits of properly prepared grains in cookies.
Depending on the recipe, you can either completely switch the flour to sourdough starter, or use part sourdough starter and part flour. If you use some flour, you can let the flour ferment in the refrigerator overnight to properly prepare the grains in all of the flour.
Add to other baking recipes
Anytime you’re making a cake, banana bread, or cookie recipe, you can add sourdough starter to it. Other recipes include scones, biscuits, and pretzels.
These recipe usually require other flour to be added. But, having that fermented, whole grain starter definitely bumps up the nutrition for these types of recipes.
Just substitute the starter for part of the flour, and adjust the liquid or oil portion as needed to get the right consistency.
Enjoy pasta with the benefits of properly prepared grains. This one can be made with live, active starter, or cold sourdough discard. Learn how to make my sourdough pasta recipe here.
Sourdough tortillas are another recipe that you can make with cold sourdough discard. Active, bubbly starter works great, too. If you want to make healthy tortillas, get my sourdough tortillas recipe here.
Why do you have to discard sourdough starter?
When you’re making a sourdough starter for the first time, like I show here, or getting ready to make a recipe, you have to feed your sourdough a number of times. This gets it active and ready to rise well in your recipe.
You have to feed it enough flour to keep the whole amount of starter fed. If you kept on feeding your starter without discarding some, you’d end up with a giant, sourdough monster that would require an enormous amount of flour to feed. I don’t think I want a sourdough monster taking over my kitchen!
Discarding some sourdough starter keeps the starter to a manageable size. And like you just saw, there are lots of great things you can make with it!
Do you have to discard sourdough starter every time you feed it?
Not always. This depends on what you’re making, and what your sourdough goals are.
When you’re making a new starter for the first time, you do have to get rid of some starter each time you feed it. Like I explained above, this is because pretty soon you would end up with a giant, monster of a sourdough starter that would require a huge amount of flour to feed.
If you have an established starter that you’re feeding to get ready for a recipe, you can adjust the amounts you feed it to fit whatever recipe you’re making. When you feed your starter to get ready to bake, you do want to make sure you always make enough to have some leftover for future baking.
I usually keep my main, “mother” starter separate and feed it in its own jar, and whenever I want to bake I take some from there and feed it for my recipe. That way my original starter stays nice and pure.
Can you freeze sourdough discard?
Yes you can! This is a great way to save sourdough discard if you don’t have time to use it right now. In the future you can pull it out, thaw it, and bake away.
More sourdough recipes
What do you like to make with sourdough starter?
Do you have more ideas for what to make with sourdough starter? Share them in the comments!
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