The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Waste is a four letter word

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nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

Waste is a four letter word

Many members here know my backround comes from the professional baking world with well over 25 years of experience. When working in a professional bakery every ounce of usable ingredient must be incorporated into a sellable product order to keep the bakery profitable. Waste is something not to be tolerated.


There has been a discussion on this board lately about what to do with discarded sourdough starter. In the professional environment there is no such thing as discarded sourdough starter every ounce must be used. I have developed techniques that duplicates this in the home kitchen. This is the technique that I use to make sure every single ounce of my sourdough starter is used and nothing wasted. I hope some of you try it and let me know how it works for you.


Once you have an active sourdough starter I am currently keeping a rye based sourdough starter in my refrigerator that is now about 10 months old.


I keep 8 ounces of the sourdough starter in the refrigerator and have not fed it for as long as three weeks at a time. The night before I want to bake bread I take the sourdough starter out of the refrigerator about six o'clock in the evening and let it sit at room temperature till about midnight at which point it has doubled in bulk. I take about 4 ounces of the sourdough starter and add to it enough flour and water to make enough sourdough for the bread I am going to bake the next day I leave that amount out at room temperature to ferment and condition about 12 to 14 hours. I use that to make my bread dough which is then allowed to ferment, then shaped, proofed and baked.


To the remaining 4 ounces of sourdough starter 2 ounces of water and 2 ounces of flour are added and it is covered and returned to the refrigerator where it will sit until the next time it is needed. I have had this sourdough in the refrigerator for as long as three weeks without feeding or maintenance of any kind only to have it come back to life at room temperature in six hours. Using this technique I have never had to throw out any of my sourdough starter.

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Agreed, we should cover more on this.
In general, how to waste less in the Kitchen.

You can find videos on-line of sourdough starter being poured down the sink.
Not only is that wasteful but its not real good for your pipes. (Glue)


What can't be used should be saved or returned back to nature.

mean_jeannie's picture
mean_jeannie

I agree.  I refer to my discards but in truth I have a very healthy compost system and I feed my discards to it!  But I love this idea; much like the minimal starter system just shared with me.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I do pretty much the same system and have had no problems and yet I still wonder Am I doing this right ! It does surprise me how it pops back to life even when I have ignored  feedings!  Thank you Norm for giving me confidence.... being a novice at all this sourdough business has become overwhelming with information and you have made it very simply explained without me feeling like I have to be a rocket scientist!  Oh yes, I would like to add...it just doesn't make sense to me to be pouring all this good flour down the sink...I don't think my plumbing appreciates it either!!  : )



Sylvia

md_massimino's picture
md_massimino

I've wasted an inordinate amount of flour maintaining starters, so I'm happy to see a system with a track record of success. 


Do you use this technique for white and wheat starters as well?

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

yes white wheat and rye starter work well with this method.

DerekL's picture
DerekL

Right - lets make bread I don't need or other sourdough products I don't want in order to be profitable. Oh, wait - I don't run a business and a few pennies worth of flour into the garbage isn't going to break me.


Extra sourdough starter is like sawdust in my woodshop or paper trimmings in my bindery - the inevitable end product of the process.  I dispose of all three without a tear.

md_massimino's picture
md_massimino

it's the whole idea that it's just sitting there idling, eating pounds of flour every week it goes unused seems so wasteful.  Would you buy an 8 foot stud every time you need a 1 foot long section?  No, use it for the length you need and store the remaining amount appropriately somewhere until it's needed.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

just to feed your little jar of starter, I'm thinking that perhaps something is seriously amiss in your feeding process.


(I presume you were not serious, of course.)


So here are some points on the issue of starters, feedings and excess.


1) Use it wisely, keep a size that allows you to use just the "discard" to make that next round of breads, then you normally shouldn't have any extra starter to worry about. You can keep a VERY small starter, you don't need 2 cups of it in the fridge if you bake once a week. Keeping 1/4c (15:30:30g) will work too, you could probably even keep less.


2) If 1 is not feasible some week, then when you do feed your small starter, use the excess for pancakes or other secondary baking uses.


3) If 1 and 2 are not feasible, don't fret over a few pennies' worth of flour and dispose in the recycle bin or the compost or, failing those, the garbage.


4) Regardless of what you do, it is NOT "WASTED" if you've used it to feed your starter. It was used wisely and constructively. That's no more "wasteful" than making tasty bread and thinking it''s "wasteful" because in about 24 hours it'll end up in the turlet. It was NOT WASTED, it fed you quite nicely.


I happen to post a blog entry about this very topic earlier this morning: The Waste Conundrum

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

i understand what you are saying but paper trimings and sawdust can be recycled.


a few months ago the price of flour was crazy high and some flour such as rye and clear are still high  (check out KAF prices for rye and clear) and while we all love to bake bread maybe some of us don't have the money or just can't stand thinking about flushing food down the drain that is still good (dumping half the starter down the toilet every day when you feed it).  its not about profit its about using everything you paid for.


as for penny's , KAF price for rye flour is 7.25 a 3 pound bag if you use 4 ounce a day the bag is gone in 12 days 36 days 3 bags--- 360 days 30 bags total $185.00 a year if you have a white and rye starter (2 starters that is twice the amount or 370.00 per year most of that going into the trash.


it you think that is a few penny's please put them in a box and send them to me


just saw my math error big woops!! and fixed it


don't bother to send it in a box ill be happy to pick it up

proth5's picture
proth5

I bake with levain every week and have used very similar methods to what Norm describes.  I never really had a problem with my starter and it raised bread every week. 


So Norm, I won't contradict you.  Who am I to do that anyway?


But I've just spent a few months where I've had the luxury of keeping the starter out of the fridge and feeding it every day (if I were in a bakery I would be baking with it every day so I wouldn't be wasting it, but I digress) and it is just "better."  The bread is "better", the texture is "better", the whole thing is "better."


Not that it was bad before, but it is "better" now.


As for the waste- well, I said in another post that I feed the cat and then the levain.   I like the cat fine, but he doesn't really get anything accomplished around the place.  If you wanted to be totally cynical, you could say that I waste money feeding him - because I get no work from him. At least the starter raises my bread.


If I were in a subsistence environment, I would have to get rid of the cat and I would put the levain in the 'fridge.  But I'm not.  The cat and the levain get fed daily.  A small enough price to pay.


Happy Baking!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Naw.


No one's going to suggest you keep the cat in the fridge and feed him only when he's going to do some work for you.


David.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Cats don't "work".

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Garrison Keillor said, "Cats are intended to prove that not everything in life has a purpose."

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Now I understand.


David

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

the same can be said about a few of my relatives


they don't work that is!  but at last check they still eat!

BreadHound's picture
BreadHound

Haaa.  I liked that "at last check"...hope it's not your last paycheck, haaa...with  them eating you out of house and home. 

proth5's picture
proth5

Who was giving me a thoroughgoing harrangue about levain care (as s/he is wont to do) "Name me one animal who can go for months without eating!"


"My pond fish in winter." I replied while at a full run...


But I'll keep feeding the cat in hopes he will double in size and do something useful >sigh!<


Pat

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

... you also have to do something useful with his waste. Consider feeding him coffee beans.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

i assume you are talking about Kopi luwak


Kopi Luwak (pronounced [ˈkopi ˈluwak]) or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, in the Philippines (where the product is called Kape Alamid) and in East Timor (locally called kafé-laku). Vietnam has a similar type of coffee, called weasel coffee, which is made from coffee berries which have been regurgitated by local weasels. In actuality the "weasel" is just the local version of the Asian Palm Civet.


or in this case kitty luwak ( correctly should be named Kopi kitty being that kopi translats to coffee but the first one is more fun

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

mine after all the bread we've been eating..no waste here!


Betty

md_massimino's picture
md_massimino

My wife is beging me to slow down with the baking.  Our compromise is to start making some more whole grain stuff and ease off with the white bread. 


Of course I don't listen.  I'm gonna go recycle tonight's discards into pizza dough and english muffins.  That'll make me feel better about this whole thing.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Save some for the Cat!!


Sylvia