The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

surplus starter

AnnieT's picture

surplus starter

Good morning bakers. A little more "mithering" last night had me wondering what discarded sourdough starter might do to the septic system? Would the beasties work with or against the home boys? I always wash mine down with plenty of cold water - but I would hate to gum up the works. How do you get rid of your discards - and I have to say it grieves me to throw it away but I don't know anyone else here who bakes. I will be sending some to a friend in Eugene but the rest has to go. A.

Floydm's picture

When at all possible I make these sourdough english muffins with my extra starter but many times I just wash it down the drain. Though there have been multiple reports of people damaging their ovens, no one here has yet reported a visit from the plumber, so I'm willing to take the risk.

JMonkey's picture

English muffins are awesome. I also love to make sourdough waffles. Pancakes are good, too, though since my wife much prefers waffles, that's usually what we make. And occasionally, I'll make a batch of sourdough blueberry muffins.

Excess starter is a good thing. :-)

KipperCat's picture

As someone new to an individual septic system, that's a good question for me also.  I never asked our system installer about starter specifically, but did have some other questions.  He told me that the only thing I shouldn't put in the system is fabric softener.  I didn't ask why as I'm allergic to it anyway, so it's not a problem for me.

Though on 2nd thought, there is a lot of variety in modern septic systems.  I've no idea if what's true for my system would apply to others.  

mkelly27's picture

the day before my daughters graduation party, the sink drains in my house all clogged up.  After snaking them through I found that the blockage was an accumulation of rising dough and hair.  I had just finished 30 loaves the day before and was rinsing  dough out of my mixing bowls into the sink.  I now scape as much as possible into the garbage. 


Two wrongs don't make a right. Three lefts make a right

edh's picture

I hate throwing it away, too. I try to find things to use it in, but during an average work week, there are lots of days with no time for pancakes, muffins, etc.

On the theory that at least helping my garden grow is better than washing it away completely, I toss the discards into a plastic tub (yogurt or cottage cheese type) for a day or two, then dump it in the compost. I don't put it in the regular compost container, as that tends to glue everything together, and to the container. Looks a little weird in the compost bin outside, but who spends a lot of time looking in there?

Don't answer that last question, please.


Rosalie's picture

What if you throw it into the worm bin?  Will the worms be okay?  Baked bread, yeah, but this stuff?


AnnieT's picture

Thanks for the speedy reply, Floyd, and DUH, I had already copied your recipe into my big blue notebook some time ago. Yet another senior moment. I hadn't worried too much until my son expressed concern. I didn't think to ask what he does with his leftovers but I have a feeling he doesn't really take care of it and he doesn't want his mother telling him how. Thanks again, A

zolablue's picture

I have a firm starter so I just dump it into my kitchen garbage can in a big sticky blob.  I do it because it smells so sweet and every time I open that door I get a whiff.  LOL.  Gosh, did that sound as crazy as I think it did!  :o)  It is true, though, that it keeps things smelling great until garbage is emptied.

Starter, unlike dough, can dissolve in water so it seems it should not be the same as putting bread dough down the drain.  I really scrape my jars and tubs and never put any excess dough or starter down my sink if I can help it.

Discarded starter is good to add to yeast bread recipes.  You just need to add a bit more salt to the dough to compensate for the amount of starter you toss in.  RLB states about 1/8 teaspoon salt for 75g of firm starter so that's what I do.  I was given that very tip on this site.

AnnieT's picture

Thanks for all the answers everyone. Lots of recipes to try, as though I don't have enough trouble. I did think to ask the son who just built a house and knows about septic tanks, and he thinks the starter would be compatible as it is a living organism - probably having a party with the ones already there. So no harm done. A.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it just changes it's location.

Even in the garbage, it goes off to a land fill where it can be useful.

2000 years from now archaeologists will find petrified SD strata when picking through our layers of garbage and pause to wonder why. --Mini Oven

AnnieT's picture

Rosalie, like you I live alone (with the pug and the cat) and the freezer in my refrigerator is full of different flours and bags of baked bread. Now the upright freezer in the laundry room is filling fast. I take some type of loaf when I visit the kids and I share with some of the neighbors, but it is still tempting to eat more than I should - after all, I have to check it out, right? Off to cook the sourdough muffins from Floyd. Maybe I can blame him? A