How To Store & Keep Sourdough Starter Discard | aka Inactive Starter

Creating a sourdough starter, is an extremely easy process of mixing flour and water together over the course of 7-14 days. The process requires a “discard” phase from days 2-14. This is where a portion of the flour and water mixture is thrown away.

Once about day 7-10 has been reached, rather than actually throw away your discarded portion of the starter, store it in a glass jar with a lid and keep it in the refrigerator. This discard, also called inactive starter, can then be used in recipes or portioned out to create more sourdough starter.

Continue adding to your discard/inactive jar every time you feed your active starter going forward.

How To Make A Sourdough Starter from Scratch

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It’s always a great idea to keep a portion of sourdough discard in the refrigerator in the chances the unforeseen happens with your active sourdough starter and needs to be completely scrapped.

Pro Tip: When in days 1-7/10 of creating your sourdough starter, dispose of the discard in the garbage rather than pouring down your kitchen sink rain. The starter hardens and may not be great for your plumbing.

store sourdough discard in a glass container and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use for discard recipes | Gathered In The Kitchen

By storing the discard/inactive starter in the refrigerator, it slows the fermentation process and essentially puts the starter in a dormant state.

The discard can be kept in the refrigerator for months. However, I would highly suggest taking your inactive starter out of the refrigerator once weekly and feed it with equal parts flour and water. This will help ensure your discard/inactive starter does not become hungry and create a “hooch”, a liquid formed on the top of your discard.

Here is a photo of my sourdough starter that formed a “hooch” as I was working on getting it established. If this happens, just drain off the liquid and feed and water your starter! Read more about hooch in this post What Is The Liquid On Top of My Sourdough Starter? | Sourdough Hooch.

What sourdough hooch looks like: a liquid formed on the top of the sourdough starter in a jar | Gathered In The Kitchen

Note for the photo above: at this stage in the creation of my sourdough starter, this would not have been discard I would have saved during my discard process. The starter in general, was too premature and not stable enough to use for baking.

Below is a photo of my healthy sourdough discard (discard saved after day 10 of creating my sourdough starter) that has been kept in the refrigerator for weeks, being fed once weekly.

Healthy Sourdough Discard | Gathered In The Kitchen

How To Use Sourdough Discard/Inactive Starter

There are two instances of how to use your sourdough discard:

  1. straight discard – this is used in many baking recipes that use flour as an ingredient
  2. active starter – in this situation, you would remove 1/2 cup of sourdough discard and place in a glass jar. Feed with 1 cup flour and 1 cup filtered water. Mix and let ferment until active and bubbly. This is then used in baking in place of using baking yeast to achieve a rise/lift. (see this recipe: How To Make Sourdough Bread for the First Time | Video Tutorial)

Discard Recipes

Here are some delicious recipes to use your straight discard in:

Why Do You Want To Use Sourdough Discard For Baking?

I’ve seen this question pop up a lot in forums from new sourdough enthusiasts. The reasons are actually quite simple.

  1. Avoid waste – you already have the discard/inactive starter that you’ve spent money to create. Why throw it away. Using discard in discard recipes is a way to ensure you use up your products and avoid waste
  2. Discard is used for recipes that either don’t need a leavening agent or do have baking soda, or baking powder added to them.
  3. Flavor – some will argue that the tangy flavor of sourdough is more noticeable with discard than with active starter

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