While feeding a sourdough starter, people generally discard some of their sourdough starter. They do this right before they add the water and fresh flour to the sourdough starter to refresh the acidity levels in the starter. How long does this discard last?
At room temperature, the sourdough discard will only last one to two days, after which it will become more and more acidic. Kept in the fridge, sourdough discard will last longer, about one week. Frozen sourdough discard will last indefinitely if you freeze it correctly.
For some people discarding parts of their sourdough starter during feeding may seem wasteful. There is so much you can do with the sourdough discard rather than throwing it away. How can you make it last longer, so you have time to use it in the future?
How Long Does The Discard Last?
Sourdough discard can seem wasteful, but luckily you do not have to throw away the discard. If you keep your sourdough discard, you may be wondering how long the discard will actually last and how to tell if you should not use it and maybe throw it away.
Sourdough discard that is stored at room temperature will usually last about one to two days. After two days, the sourdough discard will not necessarily go off; it usually begins to get more acidic as the days pass.
Remember that sourdough discard is unfed and will not live as long as your fed sourdough starter, and the older your sourdough discard becomes, the worse the quality will be.
The longer you keep your sourdough discard unused, the more acidity will be built up.
This acidity breaks down the gluten in the sourdough discard, which can leave the discard soupy.
Discard that is in this condition can potentially still be used. However, the sourdough discard will be very acidic, and this can overwhelm certain flavors and be too strong in a large amount.
If your sourdough discard has been in this soupy condition for quite some time, then it is best not to use this discard as it will not taste nice, and you should probably throw it away.
You should use your own judgment though, if the sourdough discard does not look right or smell right, then maybe you should not use it.
You should try and use your sourdough discard when it still looks structurally intact, as you will know that it is not too acidic when it is like this.
So, sourdough discard does not last that long, but how can you make the discard last longer? Let us find out.
How To Make Sourdough Discard Last Longer
Most people try and use sourdough discard as soon as possible, but what if you cannot or do not have the time to do so? Can you make it last longer?
Thankfully, there are ways you can use to make your sourdough discard last longer.
One way you can make your sourdough discard last longer is to keep it in the fridge. You can put the discard in an airtight, sealed container or jar and place it on the top shelf of your fridge.
This method of storing your sourdough discard is perfect for people who generally bake multiple times a week but cannot use the discard as soon as it is made.
Keeping your sourdough discard in the fridge will allow the discard to last for about one week without the discard’s structure faltering. After this time, the discard will begin to break down and become soupy.
Another way to store your sourdough discard to make it last longer is to freeze the discard. If you have a large amount of discard, you may want to portion it out before you freeze it, as this will make it easier to handle and use.
Note: If you want to learn more about freezing your sourdough starter, check yout my article “Does Freezing Harm Sourdough Starter?“
Remember that once you have frozen and defrosted the sourdough discard, you should not freeze it again, so portioning it out is a good idea so as to not waste any sourdough discard later on.
To freeze your sourdough discard, once you have portioned it out, place the portions into zip-lock bags and freeze.
You may want to use multiple layers of zip-lock bags to ensure that the discard does not get freezer burn.
You can also use the ice tray freezing method. This is a lot easier for small amounts of sourdough discard. To do this, place the discard into an ice tray and use a spatula to smooth out the tops of the discard in the ice tray cubes.
Place the ice tray into the freezer. Once the discard is frozen, take the sourdough discard out of the ice tray, place the cubes into some zip-lock bags and place them in your freezer.
Storing the discard in the freezer is a great way to keep your discard viable for a long time as your sourdough discard will be able to last indefinitely in the freezer.
How To Make Less Sourdough Discard
If you have no interest in using the sourdough discard or just do not like having a lot of it, then there are ways to decrease the amount of discard you get from your sourdough starter.
If you do not often bake with your sourdough starter, you can keep a smaller sourdough starter. This will decrease the amount you need to feed your starter, which will reduce the amount of discard you take from your starter.
If you have a big sourdough starter and you would like to decrease its size, an easy way to do this is to split your starter and put one half in a jar and give it to a friend that is interested in looking after their own starter.
Another way to lessen the amount of discard you get from your sourdough starter is to feed your starter a smaller amount of flour and water. For this, you will need to experiment a bit to find the right ratio for you and your starter.
You will still get a small amount of discard from this, but it will be significantly less than what you are used to getting from your sourdough starter.
You can also keep your sourdough starter in the fridge when you are not using it. If you keep your sourdough discard in the refrigerator, you will only have to feed your sourdough starter about once a week. Which will decrease the amount of discard you get.
How To Use Sourdough Discard
Sourdough discard is perfectly fine to use in baking. In fact, you can use this discard in more ways than you think. Here are a few ways you can use your discard, so you do not have to throw it away.
A great and easy way to use your sourdough discard is to make sourdough crackers. You can add the discard to butter, flour, herbs, and salt to form a dough. These make great crackers, and these crackers can be frozen to enjoy on another day.
You can use sourdough discard in your pancakes too. Simply add the discard to your regular pancake recipe, you will get delicious pancakes for breakfast that the whole family will enjoy.
You can make banana bread using your sourdough discard. Just add the discard into your usual banana bread recipe for an enjoyable twist to your banana bread.
Use your sourdough discard to make some muffins. The discard gives the muffins a boost of tangy flavor that is pleasing to the palette.
Flatbread and pizza recipes also benefit from a bit of sourdough discard. This gives the flatbread or pizza a bit more rise and a nice crisp.
Make some crumbly sourdough discard scones. For this, substitute half of the buttermilk in the scone recipe with sourdough discard. This will give the scones a tart flavor and will make the scones crumble nicely, just like a good scone should.
Note: If you would like some more inspiration for what to do with your sourdough starter discard, read my article “16 Inventive Ways to Use up Sourdough Discard“
Although sourdough discard can be annoying to have lying around, there is so much you can do with the discard rather than throwing it away. You can add the discard to so many recipes to give the recipes a lovely twist, and in some cases adding some sourdough discard to a recipe may even make it better.
You can also easily store sourdough discard for quite a long time in the right conditions, so the discard can be used at a later stage to make these delicious recipes.