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Why "discard"???

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carlos's picture
carlos

Why "discard"???

Hello to all,


I have a question that may seem obvious or ignorant so I will have to ask you to excuse me:


Why is it that in all the tutorials regarding how to make a sourdough starter, they all say (after about Day 4) to "discard four-fifths (or half) and replace with equal amount of flour and water". Why must one "discard" what seems to be a well progressing starter? Is it not possible to transfer the contents into a larger container if one is worried about the thing growing too much and spilling over, or split the contents into two jars, that way you have two starters for future use? Like I said, excuse the question if it sounds too dumb (I´m trying to make my first starter), and I´ve tried searching the forum for any related topic but no luck so far. If there is a thread that answers this question, please let me know where it is.


This is what my starter looked like into Day 4, before the night feeding of Day 4.  Am I on the right track here? I´ve already transferred the contents into a larger jar in anticipation of what may come (did I do the right thing doing this, or did I just screw up major?)


Thanks for your patience...


maliberty's picture
maliberty

I am far from an expert but I believe the goal is just to limit the size of the starter.  If you want to let it grow you can keep giving it more food but the demand will grow rapidly and there is a limit to how much starter you need.  If it doesn't have enough food it will go dormant.

Kerrie's picture
Kerrie

It is also helpful to know a few "auxiliary" sourdough recipes that work well even if your starter isn't all the way awake. You can just make one of this with the amount that you would otherwise discard.


Sourdough English Muffins are amazingly easy and good.


You can also search the King Arthur website for "sourdough waffles" and you'll get a handful of recipes to try.


 


 


 


 

Kerrie's picture
Kerrie

Bother.


Here is the correct English Muffin URL: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/3241/sourdough-english-muffins

jsk's picture
jsk

If you keep feeding your starter with an appropriate amount of flour and water without discarding some (or using some for making bread), in a few weeks you will have an enormous amount of starter wich you wouldn't be able to continue feeding (the cost of flour will be huge), and anyway there isn't realy a reason to do it.

JessicaT's picture
JessicaT

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2010/03/05/use-it-or-lose-it/


Susan describes reasons for discarding sourdough starter perfectly in this blog. If you're concerned about your starter going to waste in the garbage, keep a large jar in the fridge strictly for discards. There are many uses for the discards such as english muffins, muffins, pancakes, etc. Sometimes if my discards jar gets a bit excessive I will take out a small amount, mix it with fresh starter, refeed it and bake a loaf of bread with it. 

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

To feed your starter properly you need to at least double the starter every feeding.  The feeding should be done every 8 to 12 hours.  Look at your picture, the next time you feed it the starter will need to be twice that size.  You can see that in no time if you don't discard the starter will be much larger than you need.  People have already suggested a few recipes that you can use the discards for and that is a good option.  You just need a small amount of starter to be saved after an 8 to 12 hour feeding and feed it again.  This will keep the starter a reasonable size and you will not be going through huge amounts of flour.  When you get the starter where it will make bread you can store it in a fridge so you only have to feed it about once a week.

carlos's picture
carlos

Thanks for all the answers, everyone and for the usefull links.


Understood.

daysi's picture
daysi

 


Your starter looks great! I am a newbie here and I have tried to make my own TWICE! with no success I went back to regular yeast.


Sorry I don't have any advice for your question, I just saw the pictures and thought you are in the right track, keep up the good work and good luck!!!


 

breadinquito's picture
breadinquito

Hi! Qué tal? your sourdough starter looks quite healty, according to the pictures...rather than discarding some part of it, I would use it for other recipes (pancakes or muffins  for istance) and in a few week i suggest that you dehidrate a part of it for any urgency of "panic situation" (let's say that you or someone else throws to the bin for mistake, not pretty good, don't you think) in the web of Iban, tequedasacenar.com you can find how to dehidrate and even rehidrate your masa madre...Happy baking from Quito and  by the way, we're all waiting for some pics of your first sourdough loaf. Hasta pronto Paolo

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I never throw it out.  I save the extra to make some small treats for my husband and son. 


I have just started a new starter a few days ago, using kefir whey and unbleached flour.  It looks pretty good but not quite ready for bread making.   I have been saving the discards and today I made something out of it.  I made peanut butter banana pancakes this morning for breakfast.  When I fed my starter again this afternoon, I only had to take out 1/4 cup of discard and I used it to make chocolate chip walnut pancakes as a sweet treat for the two boys.  They loved it.


Is your starter rye or whole wheat?  It looks nice and active.  I can almost smell some fresh bread coming out from it.  :-)


Al





carlos's picture
carlos

because I think I will have a Requiem Mass for my starter....


Thanks all for the encouragement....but....


I think the bread is going to have to wait a bit more. This is day 6 for me and the starter is not growing!!! Since the last photo, like I said earlier, I decided to transfer the contents into a larger jar and I fed it that day (day 4) with bread flour (Al, I had started with whole wheat flour till the feeding of day 4). Twenty-four hours after that feeding it went completely flat. I decided to insist anyway and decided to discard half and feed again with whole wheat. It seemed to revive after that feeding, looking bubbly again and even growing about a centimeter and a half in just an hour and a half. Today I woke up and checked it and it hasn´t grown anymore, in fact it has decreased a bit but still very bubbly. I will continue to observe and feed but, in the meantime, I will start a new one in another jar and see what happens.


I would send a photo but, as if the timing was also conspiring with my starter, now my camera won´t work!!! I have a Nikon D50 and I´m getting an "Error" message in the control panel. Off to the repair guy, I guess.


Daysi, maybe I´ll do the same and go back to yeast (for now).


Paolo and Al thanks for the kind words. I think I came across that thread of Iban in that site. All these things we can use the discards in sound like good ideas and I will try them. Peanut butter banana pancakes!!! That would be heaven for me--except that peanut butter here is usuriously priced.


Off to read some more.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Carlos, I wonder if your starter went flat as a result from being fed with bread flour.  I can't say for sure.  But I definitely wouldn't feed my starter with bread flour.  If you want to maintain an active starter, use rye, whole wheat, even AP flour.  I have a whole wheat starter that works very well for me.  Just last week, I decided to make a second starter using unbleached flour.  But that's where I draw the line.  I could be wrong, I believe the more processed the flour is the less food it has left in the flour for the starter to grow. 


I used half of my unbleached starter to make four 8" pancakes this morning.  Since I had added kefir whey into the starter last night, it looked more like a sponge this morning.  Used the straight sponge, a bit of oil, pinch of salt, some sugar, beat an egg into it.  Once everything was nice and smooth, I added 1/3 tsp of baking soda.  I never get tired of watching the starter sponge rise in front of my eyes once baking soda is added into it.  Always fascinates me.  Once the batter looked bubbly and puffy, I mashed 1/2 of a large, ripe, banana and stir into the batter.  Cook in frying pan on med-low heat until light brown and fluffy.  Don't use too high heat because your pancakes will burn on the outside yet mushy inside.  Lower heat setting will allow the pancakes to cook slowly and evenly.  I sprinkled some chopped walnuts on top of the uncooked side before flipping it over to finish cooking.  Spread peanut butter over pancakes while still hot.  It's delicious!


If you can't find all natural peanut butter or it's too expensive, you can make your own.  Get some roasted, shelled, peanuts from the store.  (You can also use unshelled peanuts if it's cheaper to buy.  Just shell then roast them in the oven or toast them in a frying pan until lightly brown.  Make sure you stir them frequently so not to burn them.)  Put the nuts in a food processor or a chopper (with an "s" blade, not a cross blade), pulsate them with a bit of peanut oil or canola oil, until the right consistency.  Add a bit of salt if you like but I like mine plain.  I also like to leave a bit chunks in my freshly ground peanut butter for better crunch.  If you like it smooth, simply process it until smooth.  It's really easy and delicious!


Al






carlos's picture
carlos

 


Al


Perhaps the bread flour wasn´t a good idea. I don´t know, I may have gotten info mixed up somewhere...in any case I´m still observing my original one and have started a second one.


Thanks for your recipe and your peanut butter advice. I must try that...


Carlos

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hola Carlos,


Sorry to hear about your starter. I just managed to stablize a starter but it went through a number of 'moods' on the way. It was reading this FAQ that helped me and stopped me throwing it out. Hope it could be a help to you. It's long but thorough. It's also encouraging in that it suggests nearly all starter can be revived, including those that are looking flat. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/food/sourdough/starters/


With best wishes,   Daisy_A

carlos's picture
carlos

...you were right about it being thorough. I will keep that document and use it as a reference. I´m also trying to de-chlorinate (is that the word?) my tap water by leaving it out for a while before using. Aside from that, all the other conditions seem to be right. There really should be no reason for it not to work.


Thanks again!


C.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Yes de-chlorinate is the word! I did that too and it really helped. It is worth persevering - feels great when it comes together finally. Best of luck  Daisy_A

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Try rye flour. It seems to make the most active starter. Also, I try not to use chlorinated water.


My dogs love starter discards. Sometimes I will build a starter to use for a recipe, not have time to bake. This is the only time I usually have much in the way of excess. But I've found the dogs think fresh starter is like candy.

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

If these are indoor  dogs, have you noticed and unpleasant digestive side-effects?  My dog loves the sourgough  aroma.

ajmalton's picture
ajmalton

I never discard any more.  I bake every few days and keep the starter in the fridge in between.  When I need some active, I dump it all out (usually about 300 grams), double it with whole wheat and water (equal wieght, it's a wet culture) and then when the result is active I put half back in the fridge and  use half to make a stiff preferment.

carlos's picture
carlos

 


Looks like I finally have my first starter. the one in the photo above kind of died, so I started a second one. Well, I took everyone´s advice to heart and did not discard but rather used the excess starter for pancakes. I´ve made thousands of pancakes in my lifetime from scratch,  but these are the first ones I´ve made with sourdough starter. Light as air, a different, more rustic taste. Thanks to all for their advice (Daisy, Ajmalton, Althetrainer, Paolo, kerrie, etc..).


Here´s what they looked like.


And this is the first bread I made with the masa madre. It can be improved and I certainly will try. I will post the photo, anyway, just for fun and hopefully it will be a good point of comparison in the future.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Carlos,  Do you have a recipe or formula for the pancakes? They look great and I am hoping to move on to do this with my starter.  Best wishes,  Daisy_A

carlos's picture
carlos

I used the recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. Very easy to follow. The sponge has to be made the night before. The following morning it had really grown and was quite bubbly. Before this I had been using Alton Brown´s recipe for pancakes which is also very good.


I´m sure your family will really appreciate this.......:-)

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks Carlos,  I made some today and they went down very well! Not as good as yours though.


Regards,  Daisy_A

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Wow - that all looks great. Bread seems to have come out really well for a first loaf - the slashes look great and nice shape. Was the taste different with sourdough? Pancakes look delicious.


I'm still limbering up to make my first sourdough while making different yeasted breads. Made bollos preñaos the other evening from a link on Madrid tiene miga. Waiting for a refractory stone. Due last week but hope it comes tomorrow. 


Best wishes and happy baking,  Daisy_A


_

carlos's picture
carlos

...that´s a really deadly-looking bollo preñao...you really learned well from here!


¡Una pena que no se pueda comer por la pantalla!


C.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks Carlos - glad you liked them! You'd be very welcome if you could 'comerlos por la pantella!' :-)  


Best wishes,  Daisy_A

daysi's picture
daysi

 


You make me jealous! And those pancakes sure look delicious, I'm going to read the whole thread again and start my own really soon and HOPEFULLY i get the same result.

carlos's picture
carlos

...it was quite frustrating, the starter thing. Just be persistent, it will pay off. And the pancakes were really easy, I´m sure you could make them with your eyes closed!
C.

JessicaT's picture
JessicaT

If you want recipes for pancakes, check out this thread: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17728/sour-dough-pancakes

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks boarderaholic,


Have now made Susan from Wild Yeast's pancakes from this thread. Not as good as hers but better than my normal ones! Thanks for the link.  Daisy_A