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Sourdough discard recipes are really fun to try. At least for me, using up discard motivated me to make many baked goods for the first time (e.g. scones, crackers, biscuits). Plus, using something I’d otherwise discard felt resourceful and rewarding.
We try to limit baking in our house, since our family (myself included) find baked goods highly addictive! Whenever we have baked goods on hand, we eat it up really quickly.
However, we like to indulge every now and then. Saving sourdough discard gives a convenient excuse to do just that!
Whenever I accumulate sourdough discard, I look up new sourdough discard recipes on what to do with it. Below, I will share my three favorite sourdough discard recipes so far.
What is Sourdough Discard?
You probably have sourdough discard from one of two sources: either you made it, or someone gave it to you.
“Sourdough discard” is the term used for sourdough starter that you “discard” from your main sourdough starter. If you haven’t made your own sourdough starter yet, here is our Proven, Easy Sourdough Starter Recipe. (Feel free to share it with anyone new to sourdough starters.)
Basically, sourdough starter requires regular feedings of commensurate flour and water. To minimize the volume and materials required for each feeding, most people only use a portion of their starter at every feeding to make a new batch. The unused portion is discarded.
If you’re like me, you may feel wasteful discarding part of your starter every time. I also remember the lengthy time and effort I put into making my first sourdough starter, so consider all discard a branch of that initial time and effort.
You could say I have a slight emotional attachment to my discard, along with guilt about the idea of tossing it. Thus, using sourdough discard recipes makes me feel much better.
What’s the Difference Between Sourdough Starter and Discard?
Since sourdough discard is gathered before a feeding, it’s been fed less recently than your primary sourdough starter. Thus, the amount of yeasts and bacteria in the discard is greater, where they haven’t been diluted with new flour and water yet.
When you use sourdough starter to bake bread, most recipes recommend feeding the starter a few hours before mixing it into bread dough. The more recent feeding serves to increase the leavening (i.e. rising) properties of the starter.
As a result, older, unfed starter (i.e. sourdough discard), will not leaven to the same degree on its own. Any sourdough discard recipe will probably require baking soda/powder for leavening, if for an airy baked good.
Another property of sourdough discard is that it’s usually sourer than recently fed sourdough starter. Depending on how old the discard, it will have more lactic acid accumulated, which gives the sour flavor in sourdough discard recipes.
How Sourdough Discard Acts in Recipes
Sourdough discard still has living yeasts and bacteria, but as discussed above, they’re not rapidly feeding anymore. Thus, you will not see the same rise (i.e. leavening) in sourdough discard recipes without adding a leavening agent like baking soda/powder.
The main benefit of using sourdough discard recipes is to avoid wasting your discard. The second benefit (if you welcome it) is the nice sour/fermented flavor it adds to your recipe.
If you’re not into sour/tangy flavors, don’t worry – unless your sourdough discard is months old, the flavor is unlikely to overwhelm you. At least my family has never thought so.
How Do You Store Sourdough Discard?
(Note: The following options are also available to store sourdough starter.)
I usually use my discard relatively soon (i.e. within a month), so just keep it in a 1-quart mason jar in the fridge. I continuously add new discard whenever I feed my sourdough starter.
The discard is usually still active, since it feeds on any available food from each new batch of discard you add. My discards often continue to rise (and even overflow) in the fridge.
If you don’t plan to use your sourdough discard in the near future, you could freeze it. The yeasts and bacteria in sourdough discard can survive freezing.
However, once you thaw sourdough discard for use, it may not survive another freeze-thaw cycle. So, you should either freeze it in smaller batches initially, or just plan to use the whole batch upon thawing.
My Top 3 Favorite Recipes for Sourdough Discard
#1: Sourdough Discard Crackers
Since the bulk of these crackers is made from sourdough discard, I consider this recipe the most efficient in using up discard. Plus, my family loves them! Depending on your discard, they can even have a cheesy flavor.
- 3 cups (681g) stirred sourdough discard
- 3 tbsp. (43g) melted unsalted butter
- 3/4 tsp. (3g) sea salt
- 1 tsp. (8g) baking soda
- (optional) 3 tbsp. your choice of dried herbs/spices (garlic powder, cayenne, sage, crushed rosemary, dried onion flakes, etc.)
- sea salt for sprinkling on top
(Note: if you have less discard, feel free to adjust the ingredients accordingly.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl (i.e. everything but the additional sea salt for sprinkling on top). The consistency should be pretty wet, like cake batter. (See Note below recipe.)
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (though you will have to cut the crackers on the mat, so be careful if using a silicone baking mat).
- Pour half of the batter onto each lined baking sheet and try to spread it out as thinly as possible with a large spoon or spatula. Sprinkle sea salt liberally over the top.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and use a pizza cutter or knife to slice the batter into square/rectangles. Cut them how you like, e.g. small like Cheez-Its or large like flatbread crackers. (Note: Don’t worry if you miss this step, since it’ll just result in two large crackers that you can break into smaller pieces at the end.)
- Bake the crackers for another 10 minutes and then check if golden brown. If not golden brown, then bake for additional 5-10 minute increments until golden brown, but not burnt. (Ovens will vary.)
- Allow the crackers to cool completely if you want them hard and crispy. The crackers in the middle of the pan can be soft when warm.
(Note: My stirred sourdough discard is normally the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If yours is thicker, that’s okay. If the batter is too thick to spread around with a spoon in step 4, feel free to use a rolling pin on a flour-dusted surface or with the batter between two dusted parchment sheets.)
#2: Sourdough Discard Pancakes
These pancakes are a lot fluffier and denser than the norm. The discard adds a more bready flavor and consistency, which may surprise you at first, but in a pleasant way!
(Yield: About 16 pancakes)
- 1 cup (120g) flour
- 1 tsp. (4g) baking powder
- ½ tsp. (3g) baking soda
- 1 tsp. (4g) kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. (12.5g) sugar
- 1 cup (227g) stirred sourdough discard
- 1 ½ cups (345g) milk
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (57g) melted unsalted butter
- Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar).
- In a large bowl, mix the sourdough discard and milk. A ball whisk or fork works best, depending on how thick your discard is. You basically want to dissolve as much discard as possible into the liquid. Add the eggs and melted butter. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
- Sift your dry ingredients (i.e. flour, salt, etc.) into the sourdough discard mixture. Mix together well, though it’s okay if you can’t get all of the lumps out.
- Heat your griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. (If using a griddle, heat to 375 degrees). Once heated, grease the griddle/skillet with butter.
- Pour the batter onto the heated surface to form your pancakes, about ¼ cup per pancake.
- Once bubbles appear at the top of the pancakes, flip and cook the pancakes for another 2 minutes. (Since batters and griddle heat may vary, test a pancake to see if it needs more time.)
- Remove from heat and enjoy with butter and syrup, or your favorite pancake topping.
#3: Sourdough Discard in Any Recipe
So, this is not a “recipe,” but a great tip! You can substitute sourdough discard into any recipe that calls for flour and milk/water (e.g. muffins, scones, cakes, cookies). I’m giving you this tip, because a lot more non-sourdough recipes exist than sourdough discard recipes specifically. Thus, you won’t be wed to “sourdough discard” recipes in your search.
All sourdough discard is equal parts flour and water, so just weigh your discard with a kitchen scale to figure out the exact weight of each (i.e. in grams or ounces).
You would use the discard and subtract the respective weights of flour and water from the amount called for in the recipe. Thus, using a recipe that provides metric measurements for flour and milk/water would facilitate the process. Substitute up to a cup of discard, or however much you want, depending on how much flour and liquid the recipes uses.
And voila! You can use your sourdough discard in any recipe!
Please let me know your favorite sourdough discard recipe by commenting below, or if you have an tasty modifications to the recipes above. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share!