For starters (no pun intended), what exactly is a discard?
Each time you feed your starter, you double the amount by adding flour and water. The majority of bakers discard some of their sourdough starter first. This is done to manage the size/growth of the starter and to control the acidity levels.
The discard is the part of the starter that is removed from the original starter. Some people bake once or twice a week and they tend not to have a lot of excess starter (discard). Others who don't bake as often will find their starter is growing to an unmanageable amount and discarding some is necessary.
So, what do you do with sourdough discard? Some people throw it away but we don't like to do that because it feels wasteful when there are so many ways to use it.
There are many recipes that specifically call for sourdough discard that you can use (thank you internet). But did you know you can make adjustments to your own recipes to add some discard? Here are two ways how:
Method One - Math Mode
First of all, since your starter is (essentially) equal parts flour and water/alcohol, selecting a recipe that calls for a liquid (like water or milk) and flour is important. Then you do a little math.
If you have 10g of discard to use (i.e. 5g water, and 5g flour) you will add the 10g of sourdough discard to the recipe and decrease the amount of flour you use by 5g and the amount of liquid by 5g.
Another example, you have 20g of discard you want to add to the recipe. Simply reduce the flour by 10g and the liquid by 10g and add your starter.
Remember, this technique requires you to be working with a recipe that calls for enough flour and liquid to make these substitutions.
Method Two: The Marty Method (works best if the recipe does not contain water or other liquid - cookies and quick breads, etc).
After mixing all the ingredients in the recipe together, add 1/2 cup of starter.*
Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight if it contains eggs. If not, leave it on the counter.
When you want to bake, let the batter sit out on the counter for 30-60 minutes (if refrigerated). If not, it’s time to bake as the directions in your recipe call for.
*Think about the ingredients. If they are hard, like nuts, they can be added before the starter. If they are soft, such as oat flakes, add them just before baking, doing a final stir. The first time I tried this technique with my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies, I added all the ingredients. The next morning I took a little taste of the batter (I confess, I’m a taster). It was good but something was missing…..the oatmeal. This showed me that starter really is alive and hungry. The oatmeal was missing. The flavor was there, just not the flakes
All for now,