When I say to “discard” starter, I don’t actually mean that you need to throw it away. You just need to remove it from the batch that will be fed moving forward. There are plenty of ways to use that saved sourdough starter. I usually store it in a tightly covered container in the fridge, adding more each day until I have enough to make a batch o’ something. Be aware that keeping it stored (rather than using it fresh) results in a much more sour batter. I personally love this, because it works for sweet or savory, but if you want something a bit more balanced, make smaller batches of the recipes below and don’t store it in the fridge for as long. Also, let it come back to room temp before you use it. It won’t be particularly active when it’s cold.
My 4 favorite ways to use extra sourdough starter
- Pancakes – Thin 2 cups of starter with 1 cup milk. Add a lightly beaten egg and a tablespoon or so of sugar and stir to fully combine. Melt a bit of butter or heat a bit of oil in a skillet and ladle a 1/4 cup of the batter in. Flip ’em and put ’em on the plate. You know the rest.
- Crêpes – As above, except use 3 eggs and 2 cups of milk.
- Waffles – These sourdough cardamom waffles are one of the first posts I ever put up once Phickle became a purely fermented blog 3 years ago. They are pretty much the best! Also consider trying a savory variation with no sugar or spices, but lots of shredded cheese and chopped veggies. We used to have these epic brunch parties that would last from noon to 2am. I always made a massive batch of this and split it in two; one for the am (sweet) and one for the evening (savory). I just set the additions out and let people mix them in.
- Sourdough Pizza Crust – I like this one from King Arthur Flour, but I don’t add yeast (unnecessary), I use lukewarm water rather than hot (to ensure the health of the microbes), and I skip the seasoning powder they recommend (the sourdough has loads of flavor all on its own).
If all else fails, throw it in the compost pile. It’s just flour, water and microbes, so your compost pile will thank you. Do not throw it down the drain (glue!), and don’t feel overwhelmed by it. You do not bear lifetime responsibility for every ounce of starter.
Now, guess what time it is? Time to feed your starter! If you’ll started at Step 1 of Sourdough Starter School, you’ll need to keep feeding, approximately every 24 hours, for 2 to 4 more days at this point before you’re ready to bake a loaf. As you’re feeding, Chad Robertson (in Tartine Bread) recommends taking stock of your starter. Smell it. Notice the mellow, perhaps milky fragrance in the first few hours after feeding. Pay attention to how that fragrance changes as your starter ferments. After 24 hours, you’ll smell stronger acidic notes (Robertson calls them “vinegar” notes, but I disagree with that characterization), and you’ll see that your starter has more evenly distributed bubbles that are less uniform in size.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about established starters, equipment needed for great loaves and the final details prep before baking!
In the meantime, tell me what your favorite use for saved starter is in the comments. I know you’ve got one!
Want to start from the first Sourdough Starter School lesson?
- Step 1 (Days 1-3) – Let’s Get This Starter Started
- What your starter will look like after 24 hours of fermentation
- Step 2 (Days 3-7) – Stabilizing Your Starter
- Why You Should Do a “Low-proportion” Sourdough Feeding
- 4 Things to Make with Excess Starter (You Are Here)
- Getting Ready to Actually Bake a Loaf! Equipment and Starter Health Check
- Preparing the Leaven
- Mixing the Dough and Bulk Fermentation
- Dividing, Shaping, Final Rise
- Baking and Cooling
- Tartine Bread Giveaway!