The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starters & Discards

dablues's picture

Starters & Discards

Are you supposed to discard half of your refrigerated starter, then fee the remaining 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of flour?  If so, then you leave it out for about 12 hours and refrigerate it until you need to feed it again?  Regqrding the discard, can this be used in a recipe?  If so, does this also have to be fed?  That's what's confusing to me.  There's only me and hubby in our house, so I won't be making a lot of bread but want to know what I'm supposed to do use for the recipes?  This is still new to me, and for some reason I am not understanding this thoroughly.  Hope someone can help.  Thank you.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

First of all, you can set aside your discard in the fridge for making sourdough pancakes or english muffins for your breakfasts. You can also put the discard in a compost pile if you have one. Other members save up their discard to try baking a loaf.

It's a lot easier if you keep a smaller starter and use a portion to build your loaf's starter. Save the rest to refresh and put it back in your fridge. Unless your room temperature is really cool, you should be able to put that refreshed starter back in the fridge in a lot less than 12 hours. Try 4 hours the next time and don't forget to let the starter come back up to room temperature before you build or refresh.

I'm in a similar situation to yours in that I bake for just my wife and I most of the time. I bake two loaves and a pizza crust (12") every week. I usually make the refreshed starter to weigh out at around 200 grams or less. I'm fortunate in that I have an active starter that allows me to get away with refreshing once a week.

Using a kitchen scale really makes it easy to build a good starter and bake better loaves. If you have a scale, use it. If you don't have a scale, buy one. It really makes a difference.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

"Other members save up their discard to try baking a loaf."  TRY baking a loaf???

You talkin' bout me Postal Grunt???  LOL, I think you are.

Just as a note I do have success with this and there is no TRY to it.  I like the strength of the sourdough taste that comes trough. I just use more starter than you.

I still need to do a side by side on the two methods and run it through and independent taste test.

All funnin' intended


Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I didn't see your post on baking with discard until after I had posted the above entry. After reading your entry, I have to say that I don't see any reason why that wouldn't work.

OTOH, not very many people will discard enough starter to raise a loaf in a short enough period of time to have enough viable yeast cells to do the job. I keep a relatively small starter and don't do enough baking gather up the amount of discarded starter to raise a loaf. A small starter at a hydration level lower than 100% and kept in the fridge works for more bakers than just myself. I will go back and read your posts on baking with discard. You sound like you enjoy it too much for me to ignore.

I enjoy baking but I want to be able to see my feet without looking in a mirror.

PG in KS

Yumarama's picture

Just two of us and no need to bake copious amounts of bread so I keep the starter small. I take 10g of old starter from the fridge and add 20g quite warm water (quite warm water + cool starter = room temp soup) then add 20 g of flour for a 50g total. Stir, let it sit out for a couple of hours until it's clearly expanding but not peaked, then it goes back in the fridge for 1, possibly 2 weeks. 

I tend to do the Hamelman Vermont that calls for 30g of starter, so I can easily cover that with the 40g of excess at the next feed. If a recipe needs more, then I just make sure to build up that 40g to whatever is needed. I never use my actual starter in a recipe, always the excess only.

And I do use a scale for all my baking.




davidg618's picture

I keep 150 g of 100% hydration starter, refrigerated, When I feed it, every week or two, I discard all but 50 g, and feed it 1:1:1. resulting in 150 g of freshly fed starter. I let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour, then refrigerate it.

Here's a post that explains how I build my formula-ready levains at any hydration, using any mix of flours from this basic starter. David G
dablues's picture

Thanks everyone for the help.  Finally, I understand. 

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Here's the way I do it...

I keep between 100-300g of firm 60% hydration starter in my fridge.  I bake once or twice a week, so it is always getting used at some point...  Most of my recipes use 1000g of flour, so it's easy to incorporate at least 100g of starter...

If I'm doing a yeasted bread that I want to add some of my sour starter to the recipe, I will take out what I need for the recipe, and then feed it 50g/100g of AP flour, and 30g/60g of water respectively, let it sit on the counter for 2-4 hours, feed again, and refrigerate...

If I'm doing a sourdough with a levain build, I will just take out what I need from the storage starter, and start building the levain with it.  I'll just take the remainder and refrigerate...

davidg618's picture
davidg618 its best. No worries, no stress, just good tasting results.

David G.