When it comes to maintaining a sourdough starter, you’ll find that discarding a portion of it is all part of the sourdough experience. In order to control the growth of your starter, without having it grow out of proportion, discarding is actually integral! Together we’ll explore ways to discard your sourdough starter, followed by some handy tips and tricks for this wonderful live culture.
Table of Contents
- Why You Must Discard Some of Your Sourdough Starter?
- Tips to Feed and Discard Your Sourdough Starter
- Discarding Your Sourdough Starter
Why You Must Discard Some of Your Sourdough Starter?
It’s important to discard a portion of your sourdough starter to help maintain a healthy balance. Since your sourdough starter is fed with fresh flour and water, it only increases in volume. This could potentially lead to it growing out of proportion.
For this reason, sourdough bakers must always discard a portion to prevent the starter from becoming too much or unmanageable.
This also ensures that the ratio of flour to water remains consistent, enabling fermentation and flavor development. Discarding a portion of sourdough starter helps remove any unwanted bits of acidity that may affect the quality of your sourdough bread.
Although discarding is encouraged, you may choose to keep a portion of discarded sourdough in a separate jar for future sourdough starter discard recipes.
Tips to Feed and Discard Your Sourdough Starter
When it comes to maintaining your active starter, it’s essential to get rid of any excess starter.
Take a look at some of the helpful tips that will surely assist you in sourdough baking below:
Feed Your Sourdough Starter
Feeding your sourdough starter involves providing it with fresh flour and water at regular intervals. This could be between 8-12 hour intervals, depending on what works for you it.
The best way to do this is by feeding it with equal parts flour and water, to do this you can refer to the ratio 1:1:1 or 1:2:2. For example:
- 50g of sourdough starter, 50g of water, and 50g of flour
- 50g of starter, 100g of flour, and 100g of water
Before each feed, you must discard a small portion of the starter to manage its quality.
Keep the starter at an appropriate temperature (70-85 degrees F). Keep a watchful eye on your starter for any signs of activity, such as rising, bubbles or a pleasant aroma.
Use a Kitchen Scale
When it comes to baking, kitchen scales are your best friend, as they provide accuracy that is incredibly helpful when it comes to baking.
It ensures accuracy in measuring ingredients, effectively providing consistent results, which is great for those who like to bake a particular recipe quite often (like me, with my muffins and brownies).
Using kitchen scales also enables you to easily adjust the hydration levels of your sourdough starter, so that you’re able to handle the bread dough without any trouble at all!
Kitchen scales come in handy for any recipe, especially those that include sourdough discard recipes!
Use Distilled, Purified, or Filtered Water
It’s important to use distilled, purified, or filtered water in most recipes, though especially for a healthy starter. This ensures that no harmful chemicals have been added to your sourdough starter. Especially when it comes to tap water, as you may find certain impurities that can jeopardize the taste of your sourdough starter.
Certain impurities like chlorine can be found in tap water, which may influence the fermentation process. This is why it’s best to stick to purified, distilled, or filtered water.
Mix Water and Starter First
During the feeding process, I prefer to mix water and sourdough starter first, and the reasons for this are outlined below:
- Firstly, this ensures equal hydration, and enables flour particles to absorb water more evenly. This also prevents dry pockets, therefore promoting consistent fermentation.
- It helps get rid of any hooch that may have developed atop your starter between feedings.
- Combining water and starter encourages the wild yeast and bacteria to get to work. This also makes it much easier to determine when the starter is ready to use in for baking.
- Typically, adding dry flour to water can risk lumps of dry flour. This can make it quite challenging to determine the overall volume of the extra sourdough starter, especially when it comes to removing a portion for your jar of discard starter. Aim to create a well-hydrated and balanced environment instead of potentially having to start again with a brand new starter!
Let The Starter Sit at Room Temperature
Letting your starter sit at room temperature is extremely important, especially for its growth and fermentation.
You should aim to keep your sourdough starter at room temperature which is typically between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. This creates an ideal environment for the beneficial yeast and bacteria in the sourdough starter to work their magic. At this temperature they can metabolize the carbohydrates in the flour, resulting in a sourdough starter that provides wonderful tangy flavors and textures to your sourdough bread.
Warmer temperatures accelarate fermentation which leads to a quicker rise in the starter as well as more bubbles. Colder temperatures will slow down the process resulting in a weak starter.
Being able to observe your sourdough starter at room temperature enables you to adjust the feedings if necessary to ensure a happy and healthy starter.
Use Your Discard
Discarding a portion of sourdough starter before each feed is a great way to minimize waste and make the most of your sourdough starter. Instead of disposing of the excess starter completely, you can easily incorporate the discard into delicious recipes. Utilize ingredients like baking powder to initiate a sourdough rise.
Since the discard is essentially an unfed starter it does not help your baked goods rise like a fed sourdough starter would do, though it does carry the same distinct tangy flavors, which adds both depth and complexity to your recipes.
Apart from flavors, the sourdough discard can also contribute to the texture of your baked goods, such as fluffy muffins and pancakes, making them an incredibly yummy treat for you and your family to indulge in.
Discarding Your Sourdough Starter
Discarding your sourdough starter is an essential part of sourdough baking. By regularly discarding a portion before each feed, you’re ensuring that your starter remains fed without blowing out of proportion.
So why not collect a small portion of discard after each feed, to create wonderful baked goods that carry a distinct yet unmissable sour flavor!
What Should I Do With My Sourdough Discard If Mold Develops?
If your sourdough discard develops mold, discard it immediately to avoid consuming harmful toxins.
What is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough discard refers to the portion of sourdough starter that is removed and discarded during the feeding or maintenance process. It is typically removed to maintain the desired consistency and balance of the starter, but can also be repurposed in various recipes to avoid wastage.
Why Would I Want to Store My Sourdough Discard Instead of Throwing it Out?
Where Should I Store My Jar of Sourdough Discard?
Store your jar of sourdough discard in the refrigerator. It’s important to use a clean, airtight container to prevent mold growth. Keeping it refrigerated slows down fermentation and helps maintain the discard’s quality and freshness for a longer period of time.