Sourdough Discard: Read This Before You Decide To Use It

Sourdough discard is the leftover starter from baking sourdough bread. This starter is made up of a combination of flour, water, and natural yeast that gives the bread its unique flavor and texture.

In addition to being a great way to reduce food waste, using sourdough discard can also add some delicious flavors to your cooking!

Let’s take a look at what sourdough discard is and how you can use it. 


What Is Sourdough Discard? 

Sourdough discard is the leftover starter from making sourdough bread. The starter contains a mixture of flour, water, and natural yeast that gives the bread its unique flavor and texture.

sourdough discard

It’s important to note that this starter must be “fed” regularly in order for it to remain active; otherwise, it will become inactive over time.

Once the starter becomes inactive, it must be discarded. 

How Can I Use Sourdough Discard? 

Sourdough discard can be used in a variety of ways!

Here are just a few ideas for how you can use this flavorful ingredient:

• Baking – You can use sourdough discard in place of active yeast when baking bread or other baked goods like pancakes or waffles.

When substituting active yeast with sourdough discard, reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by half since the flavor will already be slightly sweetened due to the natural yeasts found in the starter. 

• Add Flavor – You can also use your sourdough discard as an add-in to give dishes like soups or stews an extra boost of flavor. Simply stir in a spoonful or two into whatever you’re cooking for an extra hint of deliciousness!  

• Make Snacks – From crackers to pretzels, there are plenty of snacks you can make with your sourdough discard! All you need is some flour, salt, and oil (or butter) and you’re good to go!

The dough should be kneaded until it has reached a pliable consistency and then shaped into whatever snack shape you prefer before baking. 

What Is the Difference Between Sourdough Discard and Starter?

Here we will break down the differences between sourdough discard and starter so that you can make the best bread possible. 

1. Sourdough Discard

Sourdough discard is basically a by-product of creating a sourdough starter. To make a sourdough starter, you mix together equal parts flour and water in a jar, cover it with cheesecloth, and let it sit out for 12-24 hours.

After this period of time has passed, you need to “feed” your starter by adding more flour and water to the mixture. The excess liquid that is created when adding new ingredients to the mixture is considered ‘discard’ because it contains some of the original bacteria from the original mixture that was created at the beginning.

This discard can then be used for other recipes such as pancakes or waffles as well as added to soups or stews for flavor. 

2. Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is made by mixing equal parts flour and water in a jar and letting it sit out for 12-24 hours with cheesecloth covering it for protection.

During this time, wild yeast present in the air will settle into this mixture and feed off of the sugars found in both flour and water.

As these wild yeasts feed on these sugars they will create lactic acid which results in a sour taste as well as carbon dioxide which creates bubbles in your dough resulting in a light texture once baked.

This sourdough starter can then be used as your leavening agent when baking bread or other goodies like pancakes and muffins. 

When Should I Discard Sourdough?

Sourdough should be discarded when it becomes inactive, which can happen for a few reasons. If you haven’t “fed” your starter in a while (at least once every 7-10 days) the natural yeast will eventually die off and become inactive.

Additionally, if your starter has been sitting out at room temperature for too long, it can become contaminated with other bacteria from the air which will render your starter unusable.

If either of these scenarios occurs, discard your sourdough and start a fresh one.

Is Eating With Sourdough Discard Healthy?

Yes, eating with sourdough discard is considered healthy as long as you are consuming it in moderation! This is because the natural yeast present in the sourdough starter can provide beneficial probiotics which promote a healthy digestive system.

However, it should be noted that since sourdough discard already contains some naturally occurring sugars from the flour, it can be high in calories.

So make sure to practice moderation when consuming any foods made with sourdough discard it!

Can You Feed Sourdough Without Discarding?

Yes, you can feed sourdough without discarding it! This means that instead of discarding some of the starters to make room for new ingredients, you can just add more flour and water to your jar.

While this is a great way to save on waste and use up all of your sourdough starters, it is important to note that the longer you feed your starter without discarding it, the less active it becomes and the more likely it is to become contaminated with bacteria from the air.

What Happens if You Don’t Discard Sourdough?

If you don’t discard some of your sourdough starters, they will eventually become inactive and contaminated with bacteria from the air. This can result in bad-tasting bread or other recipes. 

In addition to becoming inactive, not discarding any of your sourdough starters can also cause them to become too dense and heavy.

This can result in a dense loaf of bread or muffins that lack the lightness that comes from using fresh sourdough starters.

Can I Limit the Amount of Sourdough Discard I Get?

Yes, you can limit the amount of sourdough discard that you get when feeding your starter.

To do this, use less flour and water when making your new mixture. This will result in less discard as it won’t be necessary to make room for the new ingredients.

However, if you limit the amount of discard you get too much, it can result in an inactive starter or one that is not leavened enough.

So make sure to find the right balance between discarded and new ingredients when feeding your sourdough starter.

Can You Feed Sourdough Discard to Worms?

Yes, you can feed sourdough discard to worms! Worms love all types of food scraps including vegetable and fruit peelings, coffee grinds, tea bags, and sourdough discard.

Simply mix the sourdough discard with other food scraps to create a balanced compost mixture for your worms.

This will help provide them with the nourishment they need to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden.

How Do I Know if I Can Still Use My Sourdough Discard?

The best way to tell if your sourdough discard is still usable is by giving it a smell test. If the discard has a strong sour or alcoholic smell, it’s likely still active and can be used for baking.

If the discard smells musty or off, this indicates that it’s no longer active and should be discarded.

Additionally, you can also check to see if the discard has developed any mold which will indicate that it is no longer safe to use.


Now that you know what the difference between sourdough discard and starter is, you can start experimenting!

Sourdough discard adds great flavor to soups or stews while also saving money on buying commercial yeast products since there are no additional costs associated with making your own discard from scratch!

Additionally, using your own homemade starter instead of store-bought yeast helps ensure that your final product will have an amazing flavor profile thanks to all those lovely wild yeasts! Happy baking!

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About the author

Natalie is a food enthusiast who spends all of her time trying out new recipes, testing out new appliances, and making her kitchen as awesome as possible. She is a professional writer and blogs here about her love of food & kitchen.

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