All About Sourdough Discard by Make It Dough (2024)


Looking for delicious Sourdough Discard Recipes? There are many different ways to use excess sourdough starter in delicious baked goods. It’s become one of my favorite ingredients, it adds flavor, moisture, and the magic of fermentation to recipes. Learn how to use it to create delicious sourdough discard recipes so you never have to throw it away.

All About Sourdough Discard by Make It Dough (1)

I remember the excitement of creating my first sourdough starter. When I was ready for my first feeding, I was completely bewildered by the instruction to throw away most of my sourdough starter.

Not wanting to feel like I was dumping money right into the garbage, I immediately began researching ways I can use my leftover sourdough discard. I discovered a whole world of possibilities that continues to inspire my baking today. In fact, my search for creative ways to use sourdough discard is what motivated me to start this blog.

What is sourdough discard?

Sourdough discard comprises any portion of your starter removed during feeding or not used for bread-making.

Maintaining a sourdough starter involves a crucial feeding process. Since the starter consists of a community of living microorganisms, regular additions of fresh flour and water are necessary to provide essential nutrients. To regulate its size, acidity, and overall health, a significant portion of the starter must be "discarded".

The term discarded is in quotation marks because you don't necessarily have to dispose of this portion of your sourdough starter. It can be stored in the refrigerator for later use or used in various other recipes, like the ones listed below.

Benefits of using sourdough discard

You can use your sourdough starter for more than just naturally-leavened bread! Sourdough discard imparts so many benefits to baked goods.

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.
Moisture: There is a lot of water locked into sourdough discard, this adds more moisture which prevents baked goods from drying out and keeps them tasting fresher for days longer.
Tenderizer: The acidity in sourdough discard weakens gluten development and reacts with chemical leaveners which results in soft and fluffy baked goods.
Fermentation: Adding sourdough to baked goods also imparts the magic of fermentation. As dough or batter ferments, sourdough acts like a second stomach predigesting flour which makes baked goods much easier to digest. Fermentation also unlocks nutrients in wheat that our bodies cannot normally digest.

Active sourdough starter vs. sourdough discard

Both active sourdough starter and sourdough discard is a mixture of flour and water that has been fermented. Sourdough discard is any portion of the sourdough starter that is not used to make bread or to sustain your mother starter.

All About Sourdough Discard by Make It Dough (2)

Storing your sourdough starter in the refrigerator significantly slows down yeast activity, often causing it to appear flat and lifeless. However, bacterial activity persists even in the cold environment and continues to acidify the culture (source: Scientific American).

How do you use starter discard in recipes?

Sourdough discard is simply a mixture of flour and water that has been fermented. It can be added to most dough or batter as long as you understand how to do it.

The sourdough recipes here on my blog call for a 100% hydration starter (this means it’s made with an equal proportion of water and flour). To incorporate it into your bake, simply substitute it for a portion of the flour and water in your recipe. For instance, to add 113 grams (½ cup) of starter, remove 56 grams of flour and 56 grams of water.

However, it's important to exercise caution when adding sourdough discard to recipes. Many recipes include specific liquids for unique purposes; for example, egg whites provide airiness, and milk adds fat for tenderness.

Sourdough also contributes water, which can affect cookie spreading and cake texture. Crafting successful sourdough discard recipes requires thorough research and testing. If in doubt, opt for tried-and-tested sourdough discard recipes.

Can I add sourdough discard to bread recipes?

Sourdough discard, unlike an active starter, lacks the lively yeast activity needed to leaven bread effectively and is also acidic, which can weaken gluten structure. To achieve soft and fluffy bread, such as in my recipes for Crusty Sourdough Discard Bread, Simple Sourdough Discard Focaccia or Sourdough Discard Hot Dog Buns, you'll need to combine sourdough discard with commercial yeast. Sourdough discard can also be used alongside chemical leaveners like baking powder or soda to create quick breads like Sourdough Irish Soda Bread and Sourdough Banana Nut Bread, where its role is more about enhancing flavor rather than serving as the primary leavening agent.

How to store discarded sourdough

Each time I feed my starter, I save the portion typically thrown away in a large Mason jar, which I keep in the refrigerator. Since sourdough discard is not typically used for leavening bread, it's ok for yeast activity to die down and there's no need to feed it.

All About Sourdough Discard by Make It Dough (3)

Does sourdough discard affect flavor?

How long you've kept your discard will have a major effect on the flavor of your baked goods. Excess starter that has been in the refrigerator for weeks will have developed more acidity and will have a tangier flavor. While, discard from a starter that was recently fed will taste sweeter. Both will work for every recipe but will impart a different taste to the finished product.

My Top 15 Favorite Sourdough Discard Recipes

There are so many amazing savory and sweet recipes you can make using leftover sourdough starter. It adds a delicious flavor and imparts moisture to recipes which keeps bakes tasting fresher for much longer. You can also use sourdough discard to ferment recipes which makes them healthier and easier to digest.

Easy Fluffy Sourdough Discard Flatbread Recipe

Sourdough Discard Flatbread is a quick and easy way to put fresh, delicious, fluffy bread on the table. This one-bowl recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes from start to finish with no rising time required.

Sourdough Discard Flatbread Recipe

Sourdough Pasta

Fresh pasta is so much easier to make than it seems. Just like baking bread, I was always intimidated by making fresh pasta but after making Sourdough Pasta for the first time, it’s been my absolute favorite way to use up my excess discard.

Sourdough Discard Pasta Recipe

Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies

These Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a great nutty flavor thanks to the addition of browned butter. Incorporating a little bit of sourdough discard to these oatmeal cookies adds a delicious tang.

Sourdough Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread

Nothing beats a classic, this soft, fluffy Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread is perfect for sandwiches and toast. This recipe marries the convenience of commercial yeast and the flavor of sourdough discard for a loaf that comes together in a few hours instead of days.

Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread Recipe

Easy Sourdough Discard Crepes Recipe

Make the most delicious, delicate, tender Sourdough Crepes with crispy edges using your sourdough discard and just a few simple ingredients.

Sourdough Discard Crepes Recipe

Sourdough Discard Scones

Tender and cakey these Sourdough Discard Scones are the perfect quick bake for a seriously hearty breakfast. Serve with your favorite jam and cream, and you are sure to impress your family and friends with this new delicious treat.

Sourdough Discard Scone Recipe

Sourdough Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

A true retro classic, this Sourdough Pineapple Upside Down Cake is moist and soft with a brown sugar caramel pineapple and cherry topping that soaks into a buttery yellow cake.

Sourdough Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Sourdough Discard Rolls

These Sourdough Discard Rolls are so unbelievably soft, pillowy and plush. By using a combination of sourdough discard and instant yeast, you can have delicious, flavorful rolls on your dinner table in less than 2 hours.

Sourdough Discard Rolls Recipe

Sourdough Banana Muffins

Tall muffin tops with a plush interior and an intense banana flavor, you’ll love these Sourdough Banana Muffins. Sourdough discard adds a delicious tang and added moisture that will keep these muffins tasting fresh for up to a week.

Sourdough Banana Muffin Recipe

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

You won’t believe the flaky, buttery layers in these Sourdough Discard Biscuits. These homemade biscuits are so simple to make and are made so much better with a little tang from sourdough discard.

Sourdough Discard Biscuit Recipe

Sourdough Chocolate Cookies

Soft and fudgy, these Sourdough Chocolate Cookies are made with three types of chocolate. Sourdough discard adds a delicious tang that perfectly balances the rich flavor of chocolate.

Sourdough Chocolate Cookie Recipe

Easy Flaky All Butter Sourdough Discard Pie Crust

This Sourdough Pie Crust is buttery, flaky, tender and impossible to mess up! Butter and sourdough discard impart a rich flavor that serves as the perfect backdrop for any delicious fillings.

Sourdough Discard Pie Crust Recipe

Easy No Wait Sourdough Discard Waffle Recipe

Making these Crispy Sourdough Discard Waffles has become my favorite way to start the day. Topping them with a super easy homemade blueberry syrup makes for an extra special (but low effort) breakfast.

Sourdough Discard Waffle Recipe

Moist Sourdough Discard Banana Bread Recipe

Use your unfed starter and overripe bananas to make this moist banana bread recipe. This quick bread recipe comes together in one bowl and in less than 2 hours.

Sourdough Discard Banana Bread Recipe

Sourdough Biscotti

Don’t throw away your excess starter, use it to make these Sourdough Biscotti. Crisp and wonderfully crunchy, these biscotti are delicious and taste delightful with a cup of coffee. These twice-baked cookies are easy to make and are the best excuse to eat dessert for breakfast!

Sourdough Biscotti Recipe

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Sourdough Discard FAQs

How long is sourdough discard good for?

You can use sourdough discard as long as it doesn’t grow mold. That’s because the bacteria in sourdough starter creates an extremely acidic environment that is naturally resistant to mold and other harmful pathogens. Keeping your starter in a cooler environment, like your refrigerator, also drastically slows down fermentation which works to prevent the growth of mold.

How do I know if I need to throw my sourdough discard away?

Sourdough discard is naturally resistant to mold and bacteria that cause spoling. However, if you see any fuzzy growth or blue, green, orange or pink on the surface of your discard throw all of it away immediately.

Another reason I would throw my discarded starter out is if I notice any off-putting aromas. Since I mainly use it to add flavor to my bakes, if it begins make my recipes taste off, I just throw it out and start with a fresh jar.

There's a thin layer of dark liquid on top of my sourdough discard. Is it still safe to use?
There’s a good chance that your sourdough discard will produce a dark liquid commonly called hooch. Hooch is alcohol, a totally harmless byproduct of fermentation. You can either pour it out, skim it off, or stir it in.

I don't have any discard. Can I still make these recipes?

Absolutely! Just feed your starter with enough flour and water to create as much as each recipe calls for. Your starter won't have a strong flavor, but it will work perfectly in each recipe.

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.

All About Sourdough Discard by Make It Dough (2024)


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.

Do I need to feed refrigerated sourdough discard? ›

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.

What is the best way to use sourdough discard? ›

How to Use Up Your Sourdough Discard
  1. Pizza. Sourdough Pizza Crust. ...
  2. Pancakes & Waffles. Classic Sourdough Pancakes or Waffles. ...
  3. Chocolate chip cookies. Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies. ...
  4. Quick bread. Sourdough Banana Bread. ...
  5. Miscellaneous. Sourdough Granola. ...
  6. Crackers. Sourdough Crackers. ...
  7. Sourdough. ...
  8. Biscuits & Shortcakes.

Can I keep adding sourdough discard to the same jar? ›

Yes you can add sourdough discards from different days together in the same jar. You just need to make sure you stir it well and you don't leave it sitting in the fridge for too long. Sourdough discard should be used within two weeks.

How do I know if my sourdough has gone bad? ›

It's pretty easy to tell when sourdough bread has gone bad because it will be covered in visible signs of mold growth and will feel hard both inside and out. It may also smell bad too, but not always. Once it's past the fresh stage (first 24 hours) you will notice some deterioration in crust and crumb.

How do you know if your sourdough starter is bad? ›

Rancid or Putrid Smell – If your starter has a rancid, putrid, or even rotten odour, then it is likely to have spoiled or have been contaminated. This could be due to the growth of harmful bacteria or mould. In this case, it is best to discard the starter and start fresh.

What happens if you forgot to discard starter before feeding? ›

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 leave sourdough discard out overnight? ›

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.

How soon can you start using sourdough discard? ›

When Can You Use Sourdough Discard? You can use the discard from your starter to bake, but it's better if you wait at least 7 days before you actually use it. In the first 5-7 days, it's better if you bin or compost your discard because the bacteria will be fighting it out and it will generally smell pretty gross.

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.

Can I use sourdough discard to make another 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 Day 4 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.

How often should I clean my sourdough jar? ›

Use the same jar daily and keep it as clean as possible. During a feeding, discard part of your starter per usual and then scrape down as much residual starter as possible, reincorporating it back into the mixture. Then wipe the top and sides of the jar with a towel to remove any remaining liquid.

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.

Can sourdough discard go bad? ›

The simple answer is, you can keep sourdough discard in the fridge indefinitely, however the quality and flavor of the discard will change and even deteriorate over time.

What should sourdough discard smell like? ›

Approximately 12-24 hours after the starter was refreshed, or 6-12 hours after it became active, the sourdough starter becomes discard . 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.

How do I know if I killed my sourdough? ›

Keep feeding your starter, and you'll see normal activity (bubbles) return in a few days. If your starter has a bit of dark liquid on top, it's not dead! It simply means it's hungry and that it's time to feed it. Unless your starter has a pink or orange hue or is beginning to mold, you probably haven't killed it yet.

How long is sourdough discard good for on the counter? ›

What happens if you let sourdough discard sit too long on the counter? As discard sits at room temperature, it will continue to ferment which increases its acidity levels. If it sits past 36hrs, it will most likely run out of flour to feed on. You will then run the risk of exposing your discard to harmful bacteria.

What does a bad starter smell like? ›

Common smells include: Alcohol. Nail polish remover (acetone)

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