The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

throwing out part of starter?

pietro79's picture

throwing out part of starter?


i've created a healthy starter following Susan's instructions over at Wildyeast blog

I would like to know, why must we throw out part of the starter when growing it?

Is it for biological reasons? Does it strengthen it somehow?

Or is it only because you'd otherwise end up with a room full of the stuff?

For example, after day 2, I had 300 grams of starter. I then kept 75 grams of it to which I added 75 grams of flour and 75 grams of water, as instructed. What would happen if I kept all 300 grams, and added 300 grams of water and 300 grams of flour?



flournwater's picture

Throwing out part of the starter is simply a method of reducing the quantity of starter you're working with over the fermentation cycle.  You don't have to throw it out (I don't) is you'd prefer to use it.  When preparing a new batch of starter I often divide it at the point where tossing out half of it is recommended and double my supply of starter.  If I accumulate more than I want to keep on hand I simply make dinner rolls or some other bread (cinnamon rolls for breakfast) to reduce the amount on hand.

If you have 300 grams of starter at the "throw it out" phase and want to build on the 300 gram quantity, go for it.  Just make sure you've got a container large enough to handle the mass as it continues to develop.


pietro79's picture

yeah, thanks!

i need 600 grams of starter, so i guess i'll just keep all of it and add 300 of water and flour each


Yumarama's picture

Dag nabbed captcha thing won't let me post a link... so copy and paste

Ambimom's picture

It always seemed such a waste to discard that starter that I've cultivated so carefully.  Lately, I've begun using it to make either bran (sometimes corn) muffins or whole wheat waffles which I then wrap and freeze.  Now I have a never-ending supply of my own frozen waffles.  There are plenty of good recipes for SD waffles and muffins on the Internet or you can adapt your own favorite recipe.

Pablo's picture

On an ongoing basis currently I'm using a 1:4:6 ratio for feeding.  I use 5g old starter, 20g water and 30g flour.  So I have ~50g of starter to throw out roughly daily.  Instead of throwing it out I mix a bit more flour with it so it has some food and it's drier, so it's slower, and put it in the 'fridge.  I let these accumlate until I'm going to bake, which is fairly frequently.  Then when I do a dough I treat it as a pate fermentee and throw it in.  It's a new technique for me, but it seems to be working.


althetrainer's picture

I never throw any starter out.  I use it to make muffins, pancakes, and cornbreads.  If I don't have enough to make a full loaf I used it to rise a small dough to make bread sculptures with my son.  He loves it. 

avatrx1's picture

EVeryone speaks of using the starter excess in recipes as opposed to tossing it out.  how would you know how much to use in anything, or does a specific recipe call for a specific amount?

I plan on starting my starter today.  Never done it before,  Wish me luck.  I"m sure I"ll be back with lots of questions.


flournwater's picture

If you apply the baker's percentage rule to all of your bread baking it's fairly easy to make adjustments that fit just about any recipe you'd care to work with.  For things like sourdough waffles, most recipes will recommend a certain amount of starter.  However, some of them don't say what level of hydration you should apply to the starter so you're still faced with doing the math.  My rule of thumb for using starter in unfamiliar recipes is to include about 30% starter; even for sourdough waffles.

Best of luck with your starter.  It really isn't that difficult.  Just be patient and keep some good notes on what you do every time you work with it.  I currently have a very nice starter (about three months old) that I shared with my son.  I started with the pineapplel juice approach, he improved it by adding a few grapes to the fermentation process.  So I'm not dividing it into several different containers to experiment with developing a range of flavors.  Lots of fun.

flournwater's picture


You can make an entire loaf of bread just from your 100% hydrated starter and a little more flour.  Try making a loaf using just four, water and salt (that's your starter, a little more flour, and salt) using a 67% (+/-) hydration dough.

Divide any amount of 100% hydrated starter by 4

(100 grams divided by 4 = 25 grams)

Add the resulting number (in this case 25 grams) of flour to your mix and you have approx. 67% hydration.

Add about 1.5% - 2% salt

Click thumbnail for larger view:

Now go make a loaf of bread.

loydb's picture

It pains me horribly when I have to throw any starter away. Whenever it gets too big, that is my sign that it's time to make some sourdough.

I keep my starters at 100% hydration, for no other reason than it makes the math easy :). When I'm ready to use it, I weigh and set aside a half cup or so, add an equal amount of flour and water, and that becomes the new mother.

I weigh whatever is left, and figure out how much more flour and water I need to hit the target weight for the recipe. While I've never used 80% starter like PR talks about in BBA, I've done up to 50%.