The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Throwing away half of starter

sdionnemoore's picture

Throwing away half of starter

I admit, I'm a dunce with all things breadmaking, but I'm finally working up the guts to ask this burning question. . .


Why is it necessary to toss half the starter before feeding when you're starting a, uh, starter? I have a sourdough starter that is almost two months old. I started it, literally, with a couple of tablespoons of flour and water so I wouldn't have a lot of excess. Now that it is mature, not to mention big, I use the excess in various recipes. I suppose this makes my question a moot point, but I'd still like to know. Did I do something wrong because I built slow and small and didn't throw out half?

flournwater's picture

There have been several threads on this topic in recent weeks.  In a nutshell, you don't have to throw it out if you don't mind accumulating large quantities of starter.  Some of use just us it in waffles, pancakes, etc. rather than throwing it away.

Pablo's picture

Sounds like you've got it handled.  People throw out half in order to not have their house taken over by starter.  If you're using the excess in other things, you've got it covered.  Good on you!


xaipete's picture

LIke everyone else has said, it is up to you. If you can use your excess starter, then you don't have to throw any of it out. I often can't or don't use my excess so that is why I discard half of it.


caviar's picture

I have a question on this from a slightly different angle. In refreshing a stater that has been in the fridge for a few days it was my understanding ( often a problem of mine) that reducing the older stater and adding a larger proportion of new flour etc. the result is greater activity in the new mix. Is this just a misreading by me?



flournwater's picture

Activity in the new mix, whether is an addition to the entire mass or a portion thereof, should be realtive only to the percentage of new ingredients added to the old. 

MommaT's picture


There is a good discussion about this

Part of the throwing business has to do with maintaining desirable bacteria - yeast populations.  Yeast builds up very quickly, so in BBA, Reinhardt describes how you can refresh or build up your starter/barm at a ratio of as much as 1:4 (starter:build) if you want a less tangy loaf, while still maintaining effective leavening.  I know this is not the same as refreshing, but is related.

Some time ago when I researched refreshing and throwing out, another point that was made was that if you keep refreshing by adding relatively low amounts of flour+water to relatively high amounts of starter, you risk accumulating the less desirable bi-products of bacteria and yeast activity.

Personally, I have a jar of starter that is now about a year old.  I take bits from this to build up for loaves during the week.  When the jar starts running low, but after no more than 4-5 days, I refresh it at a ratio that is no less than 1:2 (starter:flour+water) and sometimes much more, if I've run the jar dangerously low.  

What I take from this is....keep baking and all will work out just fine!!