The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I have to discard excess starter?

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

Do I have to discard excess starter?

I've been plagued by this question since beginning my foray into sourdough four months ago.  Is it really necessary to toss excess starter or can I use it in my bread making?  Example, I've refreshed my starter from the fridge, bread baking formula/recipe calls for one half cup, I have another cup that is not needed.  I place it in the fridge and the next time I go to make bread I start my process over again, refreshing the starter and allowing it to become quite active.  I now have about two cups of starter.  I take out the half cup called for in the recipe, but I'm left with an ever increasing amount of active starter.  So....I've been dumping more starter into a recipe than it calls for and simply adjusting my flour/water ratios.  My bread is not consistent, but its not unedible.  Sometimes I even get a wonderful surprise. 

 Giving starter to friends is not an answer.  I'm one of the few bakers in my circle of friends.  I do keep starter in the freezer and always a secondary container in the fridge. 

 Does anyone else toss their 'extra' into their breadmaking?

suave's picture

There're two possible solutions, both of which I utilize.  My room temperature starter is fed every 12 hours, but I keep miniscule amounts of it - 5 g is all I take for the refreshment.  At this rate I waste about 2# of AP flour a month - a waste I don't like but can tolerate.  When I need to use it I build it up in two stages.  My cold temperature starter is kept in slightly larger amount, and I never use directy - instead I take small amount and elaborate in a separate jar.  So if I have, say, 4 oz of mother starter I can do three 1 oz builds, using them entirely each time, and only then I feed it back to 4 oz. 

Yet another possibility is making pancakes with excess starter.  One cup of starter will need an egg, a tablespoon of sugar (or some maple syrup later on), and a little bit of butter, may be a tablespoon.

andrew_l's picture

I have just posted about this


I hate waste and have a regime which, most of the time, almost eliminates dumping. I keep 2 firm starters in the fridge and use them alternately. If I take out 30 grams starter, I add back 15 grams water and 20 grams flour - this means it grows very slowly! And every few weeks I start over again by taking 20 grams of the original (refrigerated) starter, add 30 grams water and 50 of flour, using the "old" starter to make my dough. This means that each starter has been relatively recently fed - until I didn't bake for some weeks, which led to the post above! I can't believe that, in days gone by when food was so much dearer and people were much poorer, waste would have been accepted!



browndog's picture

Here are a couple more discussions about excess starter. Personally I can't bear to throw it away either, but luckily, keeping small amounts as suggested, and including discard in just about every other baked thing, makes it a non-issue.

Shajen's picture

As far as I can tell, there's no need to discard starter per se. Discarding some just keeps the starter you have to a manageable amount since it's continually growing. I started my starter a few months ago, and I've been keeping it in the fridge. Once a week (or occasionally two weeks) I take it out, feed it, use part in baking, and put the rest back in the fridge. It's been working just fine, and no waste.

Felila's picture

I refresh my starter once a week, and refrigerate it once well started. The excess gets turned into pancake batter. I do it the lazy way. I dump the excess starter into a bowl, add some Krusteaz whole wheat pancake mix, add a couple of eggs, a bit of milk, and mix. I start it out dry and thick and add more milk as necessary to make a good batter. I leave it in the fridge overnight and by morning, the batter is just right. If I leave it sitting after that, it gets more and more of a sourdough tang. Of course, that may be what you like. So play with this until you get it to your taste.

I ran out of Krusteaz and tried doing making pancake batter with just extra flour, eggs, milk, and a pinch of baking soda, and the resulting pancakes were flat and dry. That was just laziness. Adding baking powder and some melted butter would probably have helped.

However, I'm happy with my Krusteaz method, even if it's a 1950s-style readymix shortcut which no self-respecting artisan baker would tolerate :) Making pancakes would feel like more of a hassle if I had to measure everything.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Excess starter can be poured out thin on parchment and dried.  When dry, pulverize in a blender and  store in a jar.  When you're in a hurry and need a bread with flavor, add a few heaping tablespoons  to dough along with commercial yeast.   I tried it and I like it. 

Mini O