So you have a sourdough starter, and all the joy (and woes) that it brings. You know how to care for it, both in the fridge and on your counter. You know how to (or at want to know how to) turn that starter into a crusty, bubbly, tangy loaf of sourdough bread.
What you don't know (if you're like me, at least) is what to do with all that starter you have to discard each time you feed your bubbling, blurping baby. Do you pour it down the drain? Throw it into the compost pile? Sure, sure—but after a while, even if you're just a casual sourdough baker, all that starter waste starts to add up. (Guilt might ensue.)
Thankfully, we've rounded up a few ideas (culled from our community and elsewhere) for how to use up those leftovers, from breakfast to snacks to desserts. Adding a sourdough starter to your baked goods lends a lovely, yeasty tang—and reduces waste in the process. So get your starter going (if you don't already have one), and prepare to kiss starter-waste guilt goodbye:
A general how-to
There's no one way to substitute sourdough starter into a recipe, but here's a general rule of thumb:
Before using your discarded starter, make sure it's well-fed and at room temperature. If you're adding or substituting sourdough starter into a recipe, be prepared to adjust the final product—adding a bit more liquid or flour—to reach ideal consistency. A thicker starter, that is, one with a lower hydration level, will require more liquid (such as milk or water) in the recipe. A thinner one, which has a higher hydration level, will require less liquid—or maybe even none at all. Basically, experimentation is the name of the game.
Now, get baking!
- Add your discarded starter to overnight waffles or pancakes for a tangy twist that pairs well with maple syrup.
Sourdough crackers are one of the easiest ways to use up your starter: Simply mix together one cup of starter with 1/4 cup of the fat of your choice (lard is recommended, but coconut oil or butter would work well, too). Add in one cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and then cover and leave the whole thing out at room temperature overnight to allow the starter to ferment. The next day, roll until very thin, top with more salt and all of your favorite cracker fixings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, za'atar, etc.), and bake at 350°F until crispy and golden.
Substitute sourdough starter for some of the liquid in your next batch of banana bread and bask in the glow of a super moist, rich loaf. Would starter work in blueberry muffins and buttermilk biscuits as well? Most definitely!
- Try using discarded starter in place of yeast in a recipe for honey cashew morning buns, vegan pecan rolls, or citrusy sticky buns. According to our hotline, all you have to do is "substitute 140g of starter for a packet of yeast and subtract 70g from both the water and flour components of the recipe."
- Speaking of yeast, you can also use your starter in other yeasted baked goods, such as English muffins and crumpets. It also works well in a no-knead bread, which our hotline recommends whipping up by combining one cup of liquid (such as water or milk) in a bowl with a pinch of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon yeast. Let it sit until foamy, then mix with one cup of the discarded sourdough starter until a thin slurry forms. Add in 2 cups of flour and 1/2 tablespoon salt and mix until a sticky, shaggy dough forms, adding more flour or water if needed. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, kneading once about halfway through. After that, the dough is ready to be used for pizzas, soft pretzels, or anything that makes use of delicious, yeasted, tangy dough.
How do you make use of your discarded sourdough starter? Give us some new ideas in the comments below!