Sourdough Discard: 5 easy and no oven recipes to give it a second life
I have been meaning to write about sourdough discard for a long time (don’t have sourdough? Learn how to make it here from scratch in just 7 days).
For me, making bread is a pleasurable ritual; I never feel the fatigue or the weight of the different steps that require concentration, dedication and a lot of love; but now, close to summer (where I live the temperatures are always close to 30 C degrees) reviewing the ways of using sourdough discard has become a must: it is already too hot, even without the infernal heat of the oven – for a truly exceptional bread, the oven must work on 250 degrees for at least 45 minutes, after which it will stay 25 minutes at 230 degrees and another 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
It is clear that during the 3 summer months I reduce my oven sessions considerably, alas giving up real healthy bread.
So what to do with the sourdough that lives, thrives and grows every time you feed it, when the opportunities to use it disappear?
Having sworn eternal war against food waste, discarding it is out of the question.
Freezing it or drying it are viable options to pause the yeast life cycle without killing the beloved colony.
Freezing would extend the life span by up to 6 months!
Drying (and storing in the fridge) would cover the entire 3 summer months*.
On the other hand, however, I cannot give up healthy and sustainable eating either; which translates into bringing something different to the table than packaged and/or artisan bread but baked with refined flours with an endless list of ingredients.
That’s why I have put together 5 ideas on how to use sourdough discard, which are easy to prepare, without wasting 1 gram of flour and without turning on the oven.
(*) Disadvantages of storing sourdough discard in the freezer or fridge for long periods
Freezing it for long periods risks losing most of the yeast, along with the bacteria that make up the colony; consequently, it is a ‘last resort’ or short term option, like 7-10 days.
Furthermore, after about 1 month of ‘induced coma’ (dried or frozen), at least 4-5 feedings are necessary, with the high risk of throwing away the excess, given its’ eventual sub-optimal quality; so something is always wasted in the end.
I therefore only recommend these methods in the case of short absences: think of a week-long trip for example.
In daily life, instead, it is better to use the leftover sourdough to prepare something useful and healthy: more reasonable and wise, without putting the poor sourdough to sleep
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What is sourdough discard?
We can call it excess sourdough, or leftover or even forgotten sourdough (yes, it happens very frequently).
In the same way this term can be used referring to baby starter, only a few days old; or a senior sourdough starter, several years of a glorious career.
All correct; however, most often the word ‘sourdough discard’ means the portion of sourdough removed before feeding the whole colony in your jar.
It is a recommended procedure for those who, not being bakers by profession, want to avoid wasting flour: with periodic feedings, if you don’t use sourdough for bread (or pizza), every time you feed it, you run the risk of having a huge amount of sourdough to refresh, always with the same increasing amount of flour.
To summarize, for me the sourdough discard, involves the following steps:
– I take the sourdough starter out of the fridge about 5-7 days after the last refresh;
– I divide it into two parts (if I don’t have to use it for bread, etc.);
– I only feed one part and then put it back in the bed (fridge);
– the other, unfed part becomes my sourdough discard.
5 easy recipes for using sourdough discard, without turning on the oven
Some leftover sourdough may be able to make a bread or pizza rise, if it is a powerful and frequently fed starter; but as a rule, leftover sourdough is a starter with little vitality, hence limited fermentation capacity. This does not mean that it is not capable of producing some deliciousness!
1) Homemade whole wheat fresh pasta
Use it together with flour, water or eggs; adjust the moisture by adding more flour or water. I normally use 110 g wholemeal flour + 50 g bread flour, 60 g sourdough discard and about 30 ml of water; I leave it to rest for about 1 h, covering it with a damp kitchen cloth, and then roll out the dough with the machine to make fettuccine or whatever you want. You can use them soon or wait for the next day keeping them in the refrigerator.
With stiffed sourdough starter use: 100 g of type 1 flour, 50 g of wholemeal flour, 60 g of stiffed sourdough discard and about 40 ml of water.
Use approx 120 g wholemeal flour, 100 g sourdough discard, 165 ml plant based milk, 1 egg, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of baking soda and a dash of apple cider vinegar.
Mix all the ingredients together until you get a thick, homogeneous batter. Turn on the stove and heat a well-oiled pan, then pour in half a ladle of batter and cook for about 2-3 minutes; when you see the classic bubbles, turn the pancake over to cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Garnish as desired.
With stiffed sourdough starter use: 100 g wholemeal flour, 100 g stiffed sourdough discard, 180 ml plant-based milk, 1 egg, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of baking soda and a dash of apple cider vinegar.
3) Italian Flat breads (Piadina)
Use 78 g whole-wheat flour, 60 g sourdough starter, 16 ml water, 16 ml milk, 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 g salt.
After mixing all the ingredients, divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Form into balls by rolling the dough onto itself, then leave to rest for about 1 hour. Roll out with a rolling pin and cook the piadinas in a hot pan with a lid 2-3 minutes per side. If there are some leftovers, they should be kept in an airtight container to maintain them deliciously soft; in the refrigerator you can conserve them for 7 days.
With stiffed sourdough starter use: 50 g stiffed sourdough discard, 20 ml water, 20 ml milk, 1/2 tbsp ev. olive oil, 1 g salt, 70 g whole-wheat flour.
4) Vegetable patties
Mix 60 g of sourdough discard with 80 g of wholemeal flour and in a food processor, or by hand, crumble; leave the lumps to dry at room temperature for 12-24 hours; then you can use them as breadcrumbs or flour for plant-based patties like these or these. The remaining part can be kept in the refrigerator inside a jar.
With stiffed sourdough starter use: 60 g stiffed sourdough discard, 60 g wholemeal flour.
5) Crispy chickpeas flat breads (Schiacciatine di ceci)
50 g chickpea flour, 30 g bread flour, 5 ml ev. olive oil, 35 ml milk + water, 25 g sourdough discard starter, salt to taste.
After 1-2 hours of rest, roll out onto baking paper, form into discs and bake in the pan with a lid about 2 min per side. You will get 9 small discs, just double the quantities if you are in 2.
With stiffed sourdough starter use: 50 g chickpea flour, 25 g type 1 flour, 5 ml olive oil, 40 ml milk + water, 25 g stiffed sourdough discard, salt to taste.
How to tell if sourdough discard (or sourdough starter itself) has gone bad
If the sourdough discard is always kept in the fridge, it can be used for up to 2 weeks, subject to a visual and olfactory check.
- Black spots indicate mold: throw away immediately!
- Pink or orange specks on the other hand are signs of the presence of other microorganisms: throw away immediately.
- A putrid or rotten fruit smell means…. well that’s obvious: throw away.
- A smell too strong of vinegar means that the sourdough will return a very sour taste to the food: you can still save it with 2 close refreshments by leaving it at room temperature (to make it sourdough discard, wait 8 hours on the counter or 2 days in the fridge).
- If you notice some liquid on the surface (even gray)? If not accompanied by the previous signs, relax: you can use it after removing the hooch.
And finally, two extra tips:
1) In case you don’t want to cook or even waste the sourdough discard, donate it to your friends or join the network of ‘sourdough dealers’ in your area;
2) If you don’t have enough discard to make one of these recipes, don’t despair: you can collect the leftover sourdough after several refreshments, in a container to keep in the fridge (checking its condition as described in the previous paragraph).
Have a good life and a good revolution