Sourdough discard is a byproduct of making your own starter culture, a colony of ‘friendly’ bacteria and yeasts that make sourdough bread rise and give it its distinctive, tangy flavour. As your starter grows, parts of it must either be discarded, or used in other baking projects.
A starter is typically made from flour and warm water, which gives the bacteria and yeast something to eat and a suitable environment in which to thrive. As these microbes begin to colonise the mixture, you will notice it start to grow and fill with air bubbles. These air bubbles are made by the microbes breathing, and can eventually be used to make your bread rise.
When feeding a starter, you should keep around a quarter of the mixture, feed that and discard the rest, to prevent your starter from growing too large. The idea is to encourage large colonies in a relatively small amount of mixture, so you can get lots of bubbles in your dough using just a spoonful.
The discarded three-quarters of the mixture is known as sourdough discard, and can be used to add tangy sourdough flavour to recipes. The microbes present in discard are less active than in a fully-fed starter, so it may not be capable of making dough rise unless you also feed the discard, or give it some help with a little baking soda.
If you’re thinking of making some sourdough, and don’t want to waste the discard, we’ve gathered together some of our favourite sourdough discard recipes from around the internet.
Sunday brunch casserole
Our third recipe from Taste of Home uses sourdough bread as part of a hearty sausage and cheese casserole, perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Sourdough soft pretzels
These wonderfully soft and chewy pretzels from Baking Sense make the perfect snack, and taste great dipped in jalapeño cheese sauce.
Sourdough pizza crust
Give your favourite pizza the gourmet treatment with this deliciously tangy pizza crust recipe from King Arthur Baking.
These quick and easy popovers from King Arthur Baking are made with just 5 ingredients for the perfect crispy crust and fluffy interior.
Sourdough pumpkin spice bread
A deliciously dense and chewy pumpkin bread from King Arthur Baking, made from sweet molasses and pumpkin purée and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
Party cheese bread
This irresistible cheesy garlic bread from Taste of Home is perfect for sharing at informal parties or a family movie night.
These sourdough tortillas from Pies and Tacos are so soft and delicious you’ll never want to make them any other way.
Savoury sourdough pancake
This simple sourdough discard recipe from Fine Cooking uses sourdough discard as a batter and seasons with sesame seeds, salt and scallions for a wonderfully flavourful pancake.
These deliciously tangy biscuits from The Spruce Eats taste are a great way to use up discard, and taste just like traditional buttermilk biscuits.
Sourdough banana bread
This twist on an old favourite from Heart’s Content Farmhouse makes a perfectly moist, sweet banana bread with a hint of sourdough tang.
This chocolate brownie recipe from Top With Cinnamon is made with sourdough discard for a moist, fudge brownie with a deliciously cracked top.
Sourdough cinnamon rolls
Soft and chewy, with a slight tang to counteract the sweetness of the glaze, these cinnamon rolls from The Clever Carrot are the ultimate tea time treat.
Lemon sourdough cake
This sourdough twist on a traditional lemon cake recipe from Fraiche Living makes a moist, sweet cake with a light, springy texture.
Overnight sourdough pancakes
This clever pancake recipe from Baking Sense makes deliciously tangy, soft pancakes. Make part of the batter the night before so you can have fresh pancakes ready to eat jujubes after you wake up.
Sourdough bundt cake
This sourdough bundt cake from Baking Sense uses extra-tangy discard, complemented by a buttermilk glaze.
Sourdough English muffins
With tangy sourdough and a touch of sweet honey, these English muffins from The Spruce Eats are the perfect breakfast bake.
At just 22 minutes prep and cook time, these tangy waffles from The Spruce Eats are always ready in time for breakfast.
Sourdough chocolate cake
This rich chocolate cake with coffee icing from King Arthur Baking can be made with either starter or discard for a moist, springy texture.
How to store sourdough starter
Regular sourdough starter can be stored on the counter if you bake every day, but otherwise it is best kept in the refrigerator and fed every 3-4 days. Discard, on the other hand, should be kept in the fridge only, otherwise it will ferment and develop an unpleasant, sour taste. Because it is not typically fed, it has a shorter shelf-life than regular starter, and should be kept for no longer than a week, even in the fridge.
When you first begin making your starter, it needs feeding every day, which means you will have a portion of discard every day. Storing the discard from different days in the same container is fine, and can be helpful if a recipe calls for large amounts. Just remember to throw it away a week after you added the first discard, if you haven’t had the chance to use it.
If you’re hungry for more sourdough discard recipes, why not try these 5 sourdough cracker recipes? The perfect vehicle for your favourite cheese.