The Fresh Loaf

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Waste Reduction?

Adri123's picture

Waste Reduction?


I've a sourdough on the go for a couple of weeks now and it's looking promising.  My current recipe uses 140g of starter each bake.  I'll be doing 2 bakes a week.

I'm trying to work out the feeding strategy that will give me the least waste as possible.  Such a pity to be throwing quality flour away each time I feed.

Any hints/strategy suggestions most welcome.



Justanoldguy's picture

Don't tell the baking police but my discard isn't discarded. It goes into the loaf I'm baking. This act of abject parsimony seems to be working just fine. I mill my own flour and my starter is built with rye. It spends most of it's time in the fridge only emerging from the cold and dark the evening before the bake. The next morning 150g of it goes into the loaf; it gets fed and allowed to enjoy a few more hours of warmth and light. Then just when it thinks things are changing for the better and it's bubbling away with happiness I hurl it back into the cold and dark. If PETS (People for the Ethical Treatment of Starters) ever finds out about this abuse I'll probably be exiled. I don't know if this routine would work for you but it works for me and I don't give a darn how the starter feels about it. I just make sure the starter never gets near a phone or obtains pencil and paper so it could report me.

Adri123's picture

That's what I'll be doing too.



barryvabeach's picture

Adri,  work out a build schedule that works for you. I typically keep  15 grams in the fridge.  Then refresh twice, each time building more, and having it set so that the 2nd build gives me 15 grams more than I need, that 15 grams gets removed from the 2nd build and goes back to the refrig.  You can work it out so that at most you are throwing away a few grams but changing the feed ratio from 1 part starter to 1 parts of water and flour, to 1 part starter to 3 or more parts water and starter.  You may have to vary the temp at which you let it ferment to get the right stage of development for your bake. 

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

I have never tossed any starter ever. Work it in, it is just flour and water!

Anne Ng's picture
Anne Ng

I don't know the active level of your starter, but I would do this if I were using my starter according to your baking schedule: 

  • Take 35g of starter out of the original starter jar. Use the rest in whatever baking goods you wish to make. 
  • Feed 1:2:2. Leave at room temp until it matures. Now you have 175g of active starter. 
  • Use 140g to make bread. Pop the rest 35g right back into the fridge. 
  • 12 hrs before your next bake, take out the 35g from the fridge, and go to step 2 again. 

This is a cycle that you don't ever need to throw away any starter, if you stick to your baking schedule. However, things happen and you may want to bake an additional loaf, then you will need to do some calculation to figure out how to feed it (sometimes twice) to get a desired amount of starter and ALWAYS remember to add in a certain amount so that you don't use it all up and have no starter left. 

Some tips from my own experience: my starter turned overly sour in the fridge, so I've learnt to feed it at a higher ratio, 1:3:3 or 1:4:4 to bring the acidity down. I wouldn't recommend feeding it at a higher ratio, but if yours eat up food really fast, you can try up the ratio gradually. Depending on your starter activity, you can adjust the feeding ratio and/or feeding time to make your starter (and yourself) happy. Oh, and I've noticed since the temperature is going down, my starter has become much slower, so keep an eye on that too :)

sindlero's picture

Hi Ann

How are you?  I just began a rye starter today. My question is what is meant by your Feed configuration and how many loaves would you bake with 140g of starter?

Are you making up your own recipes or adding the starter to ones you want to bake?

Thanks for considering my questions.










algebread's picture

You may already have found this, but King Arthur has entire section of recipes for sourdough discard.

The crackers are quite good.

I also often use it for crepe batter, since crepes don't require a lot of structure and the starter adds a nice tang.

DanAyo's picture

I never tried the KA Crackers, butI’ve been baking these crackers for months now. I try to always have a supply on hand. Believe it or not, I just baked up 2100 grams of the crackers linked above.


pcake's picture

from my starter wasn't discarded - i'd use it to make starter pancakes.  great with maple syrup!

Brotaniker's picture

What waste? I bake about twice a week. Typically I use 100g Starter. 

So I mix 55g each rye flour and water (so there is a bit leftover). That I do 1-7 days before baking - sometimes even on the same day.

If I don't bake for 2 weeks or so (like when I travel) then, nothing, I just go on when I am back as if I where never gone.

If you gaps are not over 2 weeks I wouldn't bother about feeding. Heard about people that left the starter alone for much longer and it worked perfectly.

IMHO many people see sourdough starter as magical extremely fragile science that make the moon landing look like a primary school project. It ain't. 

S.Khadi M.'s picture
S.Khadi M.

I've never tossed any out! Never! Granted, I've had my start for less than a year, but the thought of wasting all that goodness has never felt right. I just up my feeding so my start doesn't go hungry. Yes, it makes a lot more that way, starts grow exponentially, but I go through spurts where I bake a ton, and then, while it's small, I make very little.  How do I know if it's hungry? It gets liquid on top, usually dark liquid. If it does, I feed it more the next time. 

I am not terribly precise in my baking, as you can probably tell. 

There are a number of sites with discard recipes, though, and I've used this one, and the afore mentioned King Arthur one.