Bread starter question

It looks like in order to make a bread starter, the directions are to keep adding flour/water and to keep discarding the majority of the starter a day or a couple of days later. I’m wondering if those discards can be used for anything? Rolls? Pancakes? I don’t like throwing things away that can be repurposed.

You do need to keep feeding a starter to keep the yeast alive and working. So they have you discard (usually 1/2) or you’d end up with a massive amount of starter after a few weeks - it can also get awefully sour and boozy tasting.

But yes you can use the portion you are discarding for anything that you’d use your starter for (bread, rolls, pancakes like you mentioned).

As your starter is getting established though, the flavor and leavening power may not be as strong, so just keep that in mind.

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I use Maggie Glezer’s firm starter, which also calls for a lot of discards. I put everything I discard in a big jar in the refrigerator. When it gets fairly full, I make a bread from it that I call “Detritus bread”.
500 g flour
330 g water
12 g salt
200 g discarded starter (or a little more).
I treat it like a no-knead bread: slow, overnight rise, fold, rest in a couche or towel, bake in a preheated casserole.


Yes, you can use it in just about any recipe that calls for flour and water - pancakes, waffles, bread, pizza dough, etc. Also, most instructions on getting a starter going call for WAY more raw ingredients than you actually need. I remember when I first started mine, the instructions I was using had me start with 100g water and flour, then discard half of it twice a day. You don’t need anywhere near that amount - 25g each water and flour is more than enough.


I appreciate the replies. I’ve been on the fence about starting a starter, but now I think I’ll do it!

King Arthur had a blog post about it. And there are many recipes on the Internet that use discarded starter. Also, before your starter has matured, you can still use the starter for flavor and use commercial yeast for rising. In fact, some recipes always do this:

Two fleeting days of cooler temperatures triggered some magical thinking. Also, I expect an autumn of quarantines and supermarket shortages. So I ordered some bread flour and bread mixes. Now I see that organic plums from Misfits Market have developed some nice must as they ripen. I’ve never made sourdough starter but would like to try. I’d only want a cup or two, that I can freeze till Autumn. The plums are egg-size. Should I submerge an entire plum, or flay one or more of them, using just skin? And how much flour and water for that amount of fruit matter? Thanks for any suggestions!
YEARS ago, I was gobsmacked by how well my Cooks Illustrated Dutch oven version of no-knead bread turned out, and I have often made Pepin’s easy no-knead bread in a pot but yeast still scares me and I consider myself woefully underinformed.

I have never used grapes or other fruit in a starter - they are not necessary as flour contains all of the wild yeast you will need. That said, many bakers believe fruit aids the process and/or adds flavor to a starter, so certainly worth a try if you are so inclined. I would look for instructions online - any method using grapes would probably work with your plums as well. The issue with most instructions is that they call for starting with a large amount of flour and water mixture (sometimes as much as 100g each), making for a ton of discard since each feeding of that amount requires an additional 50g of flour - if you don’t have a way to use it, it can become incredibly wasteful in a hurry. To control the amount of discard, I would recommend starting with no more than 25g of flour - even 10g is probably enough to get going.


Welcome, Chef. The beautiful loaf of bread you posted got my attention. Tips to share?

So its all about knowing the dough really. Playing around with hydration levels and not over or under proofing. So far removed from a standard loaf process, sourdough is its own entity. I actually have a tutorial video that i could show you but im too new here to link! Can i direct message you it? Is that possible/allowed?


Message recd! Much appreciated. Spent a decent amt of time this summer on diff yeasted breads practicing.

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Didn’t we all! No matter how much bread i bake, im so always excited to watch it rise in the oven.


…and developing a decent starter!

Yeah starter is important but easy to make and manage. From my experience, a starter is hard to get wrong. Everyone had their own process of feeding and discarding, to be honest, if you just keep a mix of flour and water for a week it will ferment. Throw in a couple of tablespoons of water and flour (whatever flour will work while making a starter but once it is established then switch to strong/bread flour) a couple of times through the week. Keep a loose fitting lid to prevent any crud getting in and turning it mouldy. Also a starter dying if you dont feed it every day is a myth. I keep about a teaspoon of starter in my fridge for a month sometimes without doing anything and it wakes up just fine every time. Just take it out a day before using, feed in morning, feed before bed, wake up and its ready to go. I feel like people are often put off by sourdough as they see it as a chore when it really doesnt have to be

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Too new to link? Not at all! Is it on YouTube?

Yeah it is

What’s the URL?

For the bread:

For the channel (with loads of other lessons):


Oh… so it does work! I dont know why i thought otherwise…

I had more starter than I could use at the time I over thought it. Now I’m pretty much following your recommendations. I took a break from baking loaves and started baking yeasted tortillas and waffles, then moved on to brioche and milk based breads.