The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Making a sourdough starter with minimal discard

Grant Y's picture
Grant Y

Making a sourdough starter with minimal discard

Hey bakers!

Last week I made a sourdough starter from rye flour. This is the fourth time I have done this, and this time I wanted to try to make a successful culture while minimizing sourdough "discard" (I typically would throw away about half of the starter at each feed). The starter was a success after six days (summer weather) and I'm recording my daily feedings below.

Has anyone ever made a starter from scratch without discarding anything at all? I know there are a lot of great recipes which utilize discard, but I love the idea of avoiding waste in the sourdough process.

 

Day 1 PM: 10g water, 10g rye flour

Day 2 PM: 10g water, 10g rye flour

Day 3 PM: 20g water, 20g rye flour

Day 4 PM: 40g water, 40g rye flour

Day 5 AM: Discard all but 50g of starter, feed 50g water, 50g rye flour

Day 5 PM: Repeat morning discard and feed

Day 6 AM: Discard half of existing starter, feed 50g water, 50g rye flour

Day 6 PM: Repeat morning discard and feed

 

Kitchen temperature: 70dF (estimate)

Water temperature: ambient temperature

Flour: Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Dark Rye Flour

Beth's picture
Beth

To maintain a healthy sourdough, the ratio of starter:new flour needs to be fairly constant (water, too, but you have some leeway in terms of the consistency of your starter). So, a nice ratio is 10 g starter:10 grams flour: 10 grams water. If you don't discard or use any, the second day you have 30 g starter:30 g flour:30 g water. The third day, 90 g starter; 90 g flour:90 g water. By the end of the week, you're feeding over a kilo of flour every day. Which is absurd. And by the end of the next week, you will be keeping your starter in a garbage can.

Now, there are two ways to dramatically reduce the amount of discard.

#1: Reduce the size of your starter to 10 grams (or less). Remove 10 grams of mature starter, and feed it with 10 grams of flour and 10 grams of water. Add a little milk and an egg to the rest and make yourself a couple pancakes. Then, once or twice a day, feed 10 grams of starter with 10 grams of flour and 10 grams of water. You can accumulate the rest in a jar in the fridge to have pancakes later, if you like. You can also reduce to only 5 grams if your scale is sensitive enough.

#2: Make pancakes or waffles out of the discard every day. The viability of this option depends on how much you like pancakes.

After about a month, you can start storing it in the refrigerator and feeding it up only when you want to bake (at least once every 2 weeks). At that point, you can easily run a no-discard operation.

Grant Y's picture
Grant Y

Great insight, thanks. So far I've been able to keep my starters in the fridge after a week and they still manage to make great bread. Although, I'm sure they would have more strength by keeping them at room temperature for a month and doing a more traditional feeding ratio, keeping it consistently at 1:1:1. Thanks for the ideas!

andykg's picture
andykg

Initially you will need to remove some of the starter and then continue re feeding, this will create a stronger starter in the end.

once the starter is matured enough then you will find you dont need to throw anything away. You can get away by leaving a bit in the jar then putting in the fridge for the next time you need it. If your recipe calls for 100g starter then before you need it feed with 50g of rye and 50ml of water. When its doubled take out the 100g, you will be left with scrapings in the jar again, maybe 20g of starter. Put it back in the fridge. The day before you bake repeat with feeding rye and water.

ive used this method for months.

Occasionally if im not baking for a week I'll feed like normal and discard most then give it another feed, just to keep it strong.

phaz's picture
phaz

Has anyone ever made a starter from scratch without discarding anything at all?

Most of the time. If course when I did my first starter years back, I studied and followed - which meant discarding. That didn't make sense to me, so I stopped. Just created another starter 3 days ago. No discard, and it just doubled last night - but, I did use what can be considered non standard ingredients along with the usual flour/water. Is this a starter I would use right now - I'd say I could, but having done so many starters over the years I know to give it another week or 2. Why no discard - you can look through my posts for that - it's been mentioned many many times. Enjoy!

phaz's picture
phaz

Has anyone ever made a starter from scratch without discarding anything at all?

Most of the time. If course when I did my first starter years back, I studied and followed - which meant discarding. That didn't make sense to me, so I stopped. Just created another starter 3 days ago. Why another starter - I was cooking something up and had some things at hand - after a minute I said - I bet I can make a starter from that (I have made some from unusual ingredients before and love to play around). No discard, and it just doubled last night - but, I did use what can be considered non standard ingredients along with the usual flour/water. Is this a starter I would use right now - I'd say I could, but having done so many starters over the years I know to give it another week or 2. Why no discard - you can look through my posts for that - it's been mentioned many many times. Enjoy!

I forgot - discarding when feeding an established starter - nah. Only when something gets messed up.