How Long Does Sourdough Starter Discard Last?

Sourdough bread is an increasingly popular type of bread due to its unique flavor, deliciously crusty texture, and potential health benefits. Sourdough bread is one the rise and has become something that many people want to learn to bake at home.

However, one of the more difficult things about learning to make sourdough bread is that you’ll need to begin with a starter.

This is a combination of water and flour that has been fermented with wild yeast and bacteria.

As you feed your sourdough starter, you may end up with a surplus, which people often call “sourdough starter discard.” But how long does sourdough discard last? Can you keep it and use it in later baking projects?

This article will teach you everything you’ll need to know about this topic!

What Is Sourdough Discard?

Before we get into the specifics of storing sourdough discard, let’s first understand what sourdough starter is.

This is the portion of your sourdough stater that you remove and discard before feeding it. This is a common bioproduct of creating bread dough.

When you feed your sourdough starter, you will add fresh flour and water to the mixture, which in turn gives gives the wild yeast and bacteria more food to consume and grow.

However, you should know that if you don’t discard a portion of your sourdough starter before feeding it, you will end up with an overly large and active starter, which can be difficult to manage and end up turning out badly. 

Unfed sourdough discard is one of the ways you can ruin sourdough recipes.

Sourdough starter discard is still alive with wild yeast and bacteria, which is why it can be used to make other baked goods like pancakes, waffles, and cakes.

However, the longer you store your sourdough starter discard, the less active it becomes, which can affect the rise and flavor of anything you’re looking to bake.

How Long Will Sourdough Discard Last?

The shelf life of sourdough starter discard can depend wildly on how it is stored and the temperature of its environment.

Generally, you can keep sourdough starter for up to a week in the refrigerator, and up to a month in the freezer – though it may lose some elements of quality in the latter.

If you’re planning on using your sourdough starter discard within a week, then storing it in the refrigerator is a great choice.

If you want to do this, transfer your starter discard into a clean container with a lid, then store it in the refrigerator.

You can use a glass jar, or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid to contain it. Make sure you label the container and/or keep track of the date in order to track how long it has been stored for.

If you plan on storing your sourdough starter for longer, then you’re going to need to freeze it.

You can do this in the same way as you would in the fridge, only make sure you used a plastic container or resealable freezer bag. Make sure to label the container with the date as we mentioned before.

What Happens If You Use Expired Sourdough Starter?

How Long Does Sourdough Starter Discard Last

Sourdough starter, like anything, has a lifespan. When it reaches the end of its life, it is no longer active and cannot be used to make sourdough break or other baked goods.

Using expired sourdough starter can cause you to bake bread that will be flat, dense, or bad-tasting.

Expired sourdough starter is likely to affect the overall texture and/or flavor of anything you’re looking to bake.

As the starter ages, it can lose its ability to ferment properly, resulting in less rise and a less distinctly tangy flavor.

So then, it’s important for you to keep in mind that it can go bad even if it has not technically expired in terms of date.

Other factors like temperature, feeding schedule and humidity can all affect the health and activity of your sourdough starter.

To make sure that you get the best results, we would always recommend that you use sourdough starter when it is healthy, active and within its recommended lifespan. Sourdough starter should smell tangy, and be carefully monitored.

If you’re unsure as to whether or not your starter is still good to use, then the best choice is to discard it and start fresh! You should do this especially if it has spent a considerable amount of time above room temp.

Other Tips To Store Sourdough Discard

Next up, we have some extra baking tips to help you properly store your sourdough starter discard.

  1. Use a container with a tight fitting lid. This will ensure that little to no air will get in, which can in turn dry our your sourdough discard. You can purchase an airtight container in many stores.
  2. Make sure to track the lifespan of your starter discard with labels. Store fresh sourdough discard immediately and take note of the date.
  3. Avoid storing your sourdough starter or discard in direct sunlight, or in a warm environment. You want to aim for room temperature.
  4. When thawing your sourdough starter from the freezer, make sure you allow it to come back up to room temperature before you feed it. Room temperature is the perfect environment for the starter to thrive.
  5. Some people have a designated discard jar that they use to store any leftover sourdough starters.

Final Thoughts

So that is how you can store sourdough discard. This is an essential part of baking sourdough bread, so you’re going to need to make sure you use an active sourdough starter and that you ensure it is at room temperature.

In short, sourdough bread is a fantastic baking recipe to make, even if it can take some time to get right! If you still have some questions, make sure you read our FAQ section below. Good luck and happy baking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Sourdough Starter Have Baking Soda?

Sourdough starter does not have baking soda in it! It contains wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria. Baking powder, however, is a common ingredient in all kinds of bread, which allows the bread dough to rise.

How Do I Know If I Have A Healthy Starter?

Some of the main things that can indicate a healthy starter include color, smell, activity and consistency. The same goes for sourdough starter.

What Can I Do With Leftover Sourdough Starter?

You can make many smaller baking goods with leftover sourdough starter including breadcrumbs, waffles, or pancakes. There are lots of different sourdough discard recipes you can find online or in baking guides.

Can I Make Sourdough Banana Bread?

You can make sourdough banana bread, so check out a recipe that uses the fermentation process!

How Much Starter Should I Use?

You should make sure to use an ample amount of fed sourdough starter. Using unfed sourdough starter can be problematic, and an active sourdough starter will always be better.

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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