How To Store Sourdough Discard

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Wondering how to store sourdough discard? You’ve come to the right place! Learn how and where to store your discard for best results.

I was so excited when I made my first sourdough starter! I watched the jar like a hawk, observing every millimeter of growth. I was obsessed and couldn’t wait to get started baking.

But as my starter began to grow, I quickly became overwhelmed. I didn’t quite know how to keep up with the feeding and discarding and soon my starter was out of control. I was producing more starter and levain than I knew what to do with.

My husband complained about the lack of room in the fridge because I had no less than 6 quart-sized containers of sourdough starter at various stages made with various flours.

And then, like all sourdough bakers, I realized I needed to discard and that sourdough discard is a valuable resource for any sourdough baker. It can be used to make delicious bread, brownies, waffles, and more!

And just so you don’t repeat the mistakes I’ve made, I’ll teach you how to store your sourdough discard and give you mouth-watering inspiration to use it!

This how to store sourdough discard guide is dedicated to using our valuable resources.

Sourdough discard in a plastic container.

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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> If you’re not sure how to store your sourdough starter, I have a guide for that too! It’s full of information on how to store sourdough starter in 4 different ways, and how to build in a contingency plan for your rockstar-ter!

No. 2 –> I have an entire collection of sourdough recipes for your eating pleasure! You’re sure to find something to tickle your tastebuds!

No. 3 –> I also have a great collection of sourdough how to guides if you’re looking to increase your sourdough knowledge. Ranging from how to make a sourdough starter to how to bake sourdough without a dutch oven.

Starter Vs. Discard

I’ll let you in a little secret. Sourdough starter and sourdough discard are the same darn thing!

Discard is simply an unfed sourdough starter that goes unused after a feeding. Sourdough starter is used to leaven bread while sourdough discard is, well, discarded.

It’s important to “discard” some of your starter after each feed, or you’ll become overwhelmed by the starter, like I was, because of the starter’s exponential growth. For example, if you start with a 50g starter and give it 50g each of flour and water, the next feed will have 150g starter and it will require 150g each flour and water, and the next feed will require 450g each, and the next feed….. *shudders*

Sourdough discard is easily distinguishable from starter by its texture. Starter is somehow light for its volume, and airy, and sticky, and bubbly. Sourdough discard is flat and runny, and dense because the yeasty beasties have consumed all the food.

Sourdough discard dripping off a spoon.

Is Sourdough Discard Useful?

HECK YES!

You shouldn’t actually be discarding your sourdough discard! Discard is basically flour and water and flavor because it’s full of wild yeast and bacteria just like your starter, which means it can be used to make all sorts of delicious things!

While discard does not have the power to leaven bread it doesn’t mean it’s not useful to us, or that it can’t be used in baking recipes.

Discard can be used in bread recipes that call for yeast, it can be used in baked goods that rely on baking powder or baking soda for leavening, or it can be used in things that don’t require rising like cookies!

Check Out These Great Discard Recipes!

How To Store Sourdough Discard

Sourdough starter and discard should always be stored in a covered container that is NOT airtight, it is a fermentation after all and even if most of the food is consumed, a sealed container can cause pressure build up.

There are a couple of considerations to take into account when you’re trying to decide where to store your discard.

One thing to think about is when will you use the discard? Some methods are better suited for longer storage. Another consideration is the flavor. Different storage methods will affect the flavor!

Room Temperature:

The yeast and bacteria in sourdough discard work very quickly at room temperature, so I would only keep discard at room temperature IF you’re planning on using it within 1-2 days.

The cultures inside the discard will continue to consume remaining food and then start to die off and put out alcohols (hooch) and the flavor will quickly become overpowering.

There are no preparation steps to take when you’re using discard that’s been stored at room temperature, it’s ready to use when you are!

Fridge:

In my (un)professional opinion, storing sourdough discard in the fridge is the BEST way of keeping it.

I like to keep a quart-sized container in the fridge at all times for my discard, I just add to it every time I feed my starter, and it can be kept in there almost indefinitely. I mean, if something catastrophic happens, you could even use discard to revive your sourdough starter!

So while the fridge is cool and dark and it slows down yeast activity, we know from proofing sourdough in the fridge that it doesn’t completely stop fermentation or flavor development.

A discard kept in the fridge will have a slightly different flavor than a warmer discard. This is because the bacteria continue to break down available starches into lactic and acetic acid increasing the sour flavor.

I prefer to use my discard within 7 days of keeping it in the fridge, otherwise, you risk too much sour flavor!

To use sourdough discard that’s been stored in the fridge, place it on the counter to warm up for 2-3 hours before using.

Freezer:

If you’re baking a lot, or you get overtaken by sourdough starter cause you’re not discarding as much as you should, you can definitely toss some of that discard in the freezer.

Freezing is a great way to store sourdough discard for long periods of time (months!) without affecting the quality or flavor too much.

To use frozen discard, just pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter until completely thawed before using.

Unstirred discard with a layer of hooch.
Notice the layer of hooch on this aged discard!

How To Use Sourdough Discard In Recipes

Now that you know how to store sourdough discard, let’s talk about how to use it in recipes! Using sourdough discard is a great way to add flavor and texture to all sorts of recipes, sweet or savory.

Here are some tips:

  • Feel free to substitute discard into forgiving recipes, like sweetbreads and muffins. When I say forgiving, I mean a recipe that can handle a slight imbalance of liquid to flour, like my brown sugar banana bread.
  • Avoid recipes that don’t have an obvious flour to liquid ratio, like cookies, unless they are written specifically to include sourdough discard, like my sourdough chocolate chip cookies.
  • If you’re using a recipe measured by weight, subtract one-half of the weight of the starter from both the flour and water measurements.
  • For recipes measured in cups and spoons, add in 120g of sourdough starter and subtract 1/2 cup of flour (60g) and 1/4 cup of water (60g).

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FAQ

How long can you store sourdough discard?

This depends on where you’re storing it!

Room temperature sourdough discard should be used, refrigerated, or thrown away after 36-48 hours.

Sourdough discard can be kept in the fridge for weeks, BUT it continues to get sourer as time passes.

Can you use old discard?

Certainly, as long as your discard has no mold on it and looks and smells healthy, it’s still good to use, however, older discard has a much sourer flavor than a fresher, newer discard.

I prefer to use aged discard in savory recipes like pasta or crackers, and newer, fresher discard in sweets recipes like brownies, cookies, and bread.

I consider 7 days and less to be a newer discard and 7+ days older to be an aged discard.

Can I mix discard in one jar?

Absolutely! I only keep one jar of discard in my fridge and I add to and take from as required. It’s like a give a penny / take a penny tray!

What is the best container to store sourdough discard in?

I am a HUGE fan of restaurant takeout-style containers. I purchase them in bulk at my local restaurant supply store, and they are inexpensive, stackable, clear, and dishwasher safe!

If you don’t want to use a deli-style container, any container that is NOT air-tight will work.

Avoid using anything airtight, because even though the yeast and bacteria are slowing down due to the lack of food supply and cold temperatures, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still fermenting! The fermentation process creates gases and gasses inside of an airtight container create a build-up of pressure which can cause the jar to burst or break. A labeled container of sourdough discard.

Notes From The Crave Kitchen

Now that you know how to store and use sourdough discard, how to use it in recipes, and got some great tips, go forth and bake (or cook) with abandon! The next time you feed your starter, save a little bit of the discard and try out one of these recipes. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments or on social media. I’m always happy to help! 🙂

Happy baking!

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8 Comments

  1. Hello,
    This is Peggy.
    You mentioned you have a container to keep discard in the fridge & you will just add to this container each time you have to discard.
    May I know do we need to mix the discard well with the old discard which was already in the container, or just add & leave it without mixing?
    Thank you.

      1. My discard is usually rolling, I add to and use some, then add some and use some. I like to start fresh every month or two during busier baking months – I get rid of whatever discard I have, feed it to my chickens and then start with a fresh clean jar. When it’s summer time and my schedule is too busy, I keep my starter in the fridge and without regular feedings, I don’t really have discard to deal with.

        Hope that helps!

  2. Hi Ally! Happy Fourth!
    I have about a half gallon of sourdough discard in my frig, which I’ve accumulated over months. It doesn’t smell or look bad; sometimes, it’s even bubbly on the top and/or sides, sometimes not. I am so confused as how to use the discard; that’s why I have so much! I’m assuming it’s not too old??? I was wanting to make deep dish pizza crusts in a 10” cast iron skillet (saw on a YT video). Can I use the discard when there are no bubbles?

    1. Hey Sue, sorry for the delay in getting back to you, absolutely you can use your discard if it has no bubbles, just make sure it has no signs of spoilage, they would be similar to the signs of a bad sourdough starter. If you’re looking to use up some discard, I have a list of my favorite discard recipes at the bottom of my what to do with sourdough discard post and each recipe has a short description telling you how much discard you’ll need!

  3. Hi. I keep my starter in a mason jar. Should I be using something different? Today when I went to feed it, it was very hard to open the jar.
    I prefer glass over plastic.
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Amanda, I keep my sourdough starter in a glass mason jar too, I do have an article on best sourdough starter containers, but I actually have 2, so the starter is always in one, and the other is in the dishwasher. I’ve found that transferring to a new jar for feeds keeps everything so clean and simple. I only keep a small amount of starter on hand, usually, unless I’m planning a big bake, so I use a wide mouth pint jar and my feeds are 50g starter, 50g water, 50g flour. Seems to be the perfect sized jar for me.