The Fresh Loaf

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What to do with discarded sourdough starter?

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thihal123's picture
thihal123

What to do with discarded sourdough starter?

I'm in the process of nurturing (? is that the word) sourdough starter. It'll be my first. Tomorrow, I'm supposed to discard half of it. Are there creative ways to use this discarded starter? Could I make thin pancakes from it? Throwing it away seems like a waste. And, I don't have anyone to give it away to.

wally's picture
wally

Sourdough pancakes are a great use for excess starter.  So are sourdough biscuits.  Recipes abound for both.  Go for it!

Larry

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

English muffins.  Kjknits has a fine recipe I have used many times.  Type her handle in the search box and many other recipes will turn up too.

Happy baking

plevee's picture
plevee

You could just use it in a yeast raised bread. It isn't active enough to leaven the bread but will add flavour. 

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Thanks for all the replies! I'll try one of these suggestions.

If I were to use it in yeasted bread, how much yeast should I reduce in the bread? None?

plevee's picture
plevee

Just count it as flour and water until it is fully active.

baybakin's picture
baybakin

I've made lots of crackers with discarded starter, and I never measure it.  Basic rules are to keep the hydration around what bagel dough would be, with an amount of oil and a pinch of salt.  Fermented, rolled really thin (rise again) then baked slow and low, 300F for about 20-30 mins.

Great versions:
AP flour with Chedder and butter (or ghee)
Whole wheat with sesame seeds and sesame oil
Cracked wheat/whole wheat flour and olive oil
Cracked rye/rye flour with caraway seeds and olive oil

cranbo's picture
cranbo

thihal123, If you're throwing out more than about 1 cup, then you are probably making too much starter in the first place. Really you should only build and maintain the amount you'll need to use for your recipes, depending on how frequently you're baking. 

I regularly maintain starter by reserving about 1-2 tbsp of starter, and feeding about 1/2c flour and about 1/3c. water. If I need to build it up for a specific recipe, I'll build it up to the right quantity over a couple of days, but just enough for the recipe, so usually I'm throwing out no more than 3/4 cup of starter. 

That said, I agree with previous posts that sourdough pancakes or waffles are good for leftover starter. If I have an excess, I'll have to try the cracker suggestion next time. 

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Interesting. I'm only following the directions given in the River Cottage Bread Book which states to throw out half of the amount made. It starts off with 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, and then each feeding you add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. I think the book explained that it's easier to start with a bigger amount to encourage growth.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I followed a quick and dirty method I found on someone's blog, which started with 1 cup of flour and water but then kept adding the same amount to that every day without discarding anything.  By the time I got to the point where I had almost a gallon total, it was past the stinky stage and usable for other things.  I made a chocolate cake with the first discard, at the end of one week.  I gradually worked it down to a manageable size, and to feeding it on equal weights of flour and water, by making small quick-bread products and batches of four cookies.  Now it is a properly behaved 1-cup culture and no one knows by looking that it was once a large jar of stinky flour paste on the top of the refrigerator.  *grin*

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Do all starters go through a stinky stage? Mine is about 3 days old and smells lovely. Maybe it'll stink in the next few days? Or....??

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"stinky" is also a relative evaluation.  What's stinky to one nose can be fragrant to another.  

 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Mini Oven is correct, stinkness is in the nose of the ... beholder?  I love the smell of all stages of brewing beer.  My husband thinks they all smell bad, but he also doesn't like beer itself.  What you get in the early stages of bread starter fermentation depends on the pH of the mixture.  Mine started alkaline, and after the first couple of days it smelled like a cross between early beer fermentation and foot cheese.  As a bread flavor, I would consider this stinky.  It very soon afterward recovered and began to smell like wonderful bread dough to me.  Even now, though, my husband only likes the smell of it when it is baking.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

should've paid closer attention to your OP. The quantities are OK to begin with, but in the future I highly encourage smaller feeds so you have less waste. 

I also agree with Mini, I would discard the original builds. Once your starter is well established (after 2-3 weeks), you can use the leftovers.

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Ah...okay. So if I were to use this early discarded starter, one that is just three days old, would I risk food poisoning? I had in mind to make some crackers tomorrow with the discarded stuff.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

I doubt that it will poison you, but it might not taste very good. 

thihal123's picture
thihal123

So I discarded half of the stuff this morning. It seemed quite alcoho-ly so I threw it down the drain. Interesting thing is that even though the batter was thick yesterday, by this morning it was rather watery.

Can my sourdough starter be drowning in its own alcohol? Yesterday afternoon, the starter rose quite high, and then some hours later when I returned, it has totally collapsed. Does that mean something?

Breadandwine's picture
Breadandwine

Hi thihal123

I've never thrown the discard from a starter away - I use it for pikelets (or pancakes, if you like). Even the first discard is absolutely fine, IME.

Here's my method, for what it's worth.

The starter collapsing, as I understand it, is because it's used up the available food. It's now in resting or hibernation mode, waiting to spring into action when you feed it again.

Best wishes, Paul

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Thanks, Paul. It seems to me that my sourdough starter is "activating" sooner than the book suggests it would. Of course, the book was written by an author living in England, whereas I live in the hot, almost tropic-like (basically, summer is tropic) weather.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

using the same amount of water, thicken it up in warmer weather.   That the starter is thinner after fermenting is typical and this will also happen with dough made using your starter.   As the fermenting progresses, several rounds of folding the dough is used to return integrity and strength to the dough until it is ready to be shaped and allowed a final rise before baking.  

When comparing yeast doughs to sourdoughs, I tend to start out a little stiffer with the sourdough knowing it will "loosen" as time goes by.  

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Thanks for the advice. I'll add more flour in the next feed and perhaps reduce the water content. I didn't realise that sourdoughs tend to loosen that much. I wish the book I used describe that.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 Experiment on the side while maintaining a baking starter for bread projects. 

Once you observe its normal behavior, poke and prod it and really get to know it.  how it smells, how it thins, how it rises, blends gets knocked down and how it falls, how long it takes to change from smelling like wet flour to other aromas before it goes boozy and changes color.  (keep a little discard around and let it go "ballistic" to see what happens!)   Keep notes and observe and get to know your starter.  Drop stuff into it, change the flour, throw in grains, herbs or spices and see what it does if you change from water to milk or beer or juice or left over breakfast cereal or jam or apple skins.  :)  let the little beasties teach you what they can do for you!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

of starting a starter.  It contains all sorts of unsorted bacteria and is not balanced well.  Could get off flavours and such.  Pour the discard into your compost pile or thin it some more water and down the drain it goes.  When it's older, think about using it.  :)

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Ah, so I played around with the early discarded starter. I added more flour and water, then some sugar and oil. I poured it into a hot pan like pancakes. Well, maybe because of the high sugar (??) or starch (??) content, the batter really stuck to the pan and it took a lot of effor to remove it cleanly. However, the taste reminded me of very ripe plantains that are grilled or deep fried. Tasted quite good. It did have a little hint of alcohol or sourness to it, but just a hint. This does give me some ideas of what to do with discarded starter, though, I gotta say, I'm the only one who really eats bread and bread products in the house. Hubby does eat some, but he's more interested in breakfast cereals, not so much bread, alas.