What Should I Do With My Leftover or Discard Starter?

Anyone who bakes using their own home-made sourdough starter knows the drill. While we are feeding the never-ending appetite of our starter a.k.a the monster (kind of like the monster from little shop of horrors, Feed Me Seymour ), we are forced to get rid of the excess starter.

What can we do with the unnecessary leftover starter instead of throwing it away? Here are seven great uses that won’t leave a drop of starter to waste:

  1. Dry the starter and break it into pieces, keep in a locked jar to start a new starter quicker at a later time.
  2. Dry and grind the powder and use it to powder your proofing basket to enhance the sour flavor.
  3. Use for recipes that don’t require high rise dough.
  4. Make biscuits for your dog.
  5. Give as a gift to friends or neighbors.
  6. Use your discarded starter as a compost.

As you can see there is a whole world of possibilities where the starter residue can be beneficial (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure) Know this saying?
Now let’s dive into each of these options

Dehydrating Sourdough Starter and What To Do With It

This is a clever way to maintain a “time capsule” of your starter. This dried up starter can be used in multiple ways.

  • Use it to start a new starter if your current starter has collapsed due to neglect or other catastrophes. This is plan B.
  • If you want to start another sourdough starter with a different flour combination in order to get different flavors ( rye, whole wheat or other combinations of flours, I personally love rye and bread flour flavor )
  • Use it as a flavor enhancer in recipes
  • Use it as a yeast substitute in recipes
  • Give it as a gift to friends and family. Make sure they bake, otherwise they will give you a funny look.

How do Dry Out Your Sourdough Starter

In order to avoid starting your starter from fresh, use your discard starter, spread it on a cookie sheet and let dehydrate until its completely dry out. Try to spread is as thin as you can, the thinner you spread it the quicker it will dry out.

Once its completely dry break, it out to little pieces and store it in a jar in a cool dry space. It can last this way for years and if the opportunity comes and you need to use it, you can rehydrate it and bring it back to life in no time.

We have written an amazing article on how to dry out your sourdough quickly. It’s really good and has a great tip to really speed things up. Otherwise, you are looking at 3 days or so. It also fully covers how to revive and rehydrate your sourdough starter.

Use It To Dust Your Proofing Basket

This is yet another way to add flavor to your bread, even if you make white bread. It will add some fermented flavor to it.

Follow the method of drying your discard starter I mention in the previous paragraph and grind that dehydrated starter into a powder using your food processor, coffee grinder or whatever tool you have.

Now, whenever you need to dust your Benton or any proofing basket, the sourdough powder will be your “go-to” and enhance the flavor of your bread, adding a bit of sourness and depth to it.

Use It For Recipes That Don’t Require High Rise Dough

There are so many uses and recipes you can add sourdough starter to that do not require long fermentation or high rising doughs.

My number one go-to for use of my extra/leftover starter is a quickly pan-fried flatbread or savory pancake if you like.

I do not use a recipe but actually just do it by feel. I add some salt, a bit of flour and that’s pretty much it.

I heat up a frying pan, pour a bit of olive oil or butter and fry that sucker up. you can add any toppings to this as your heart desires. I usually go with some herbs but you can always add some green onions, chopped tomatoes, pretty much anything you like.

You can also make some quick and easy dips or spreads for these pancakes by combining some cream cheese, yogurts or sour cream with garlic, dill, herbs, cucumbers or anything you can think of pretty much.

Here is a list of some other baked goods you can easily add sourdough starter to.

  • crackers
  • pancakes and waffles
  • bread ( add it in for the flavor not as a leavening agent)
  • muffins
  • Pies
  • flatbread
  • pizza
  • dumplings
  • To thicken sauces and gravy
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Focaccia
  • Cookies.

Make Biscuits for your dog

Man’s best friend needs a treat once in a while just like us.
The leftover starter can be great for using it for biscuit recipes for your dog. It usually involves peanut butter, chicken broth, pumpkin and all sort of other great ideas.

There are many online sites where you can find great recipes for your dog from discard starter and also Facebook-related groups where you can find recipes.

Note: Don’t let your dog eat all the biscuits at once. We don’t want him or her to overdo it.

Give as a gift

There’s nothing like getting a handmade/homemade gift. It’s one of the most heartwarming things you can both give and receive.

A good starter is the dream of many who do not always have the energy or find it intimidating to go through the process of making a starter themselves. This will give them the confidence that they can do it.

Whether it’s the holiday season or just a good-will gesture, take your leftover starter, pack it in a nice jar, if you want to go the extra mile add a nice ribbon on it and you’ll be surprised how much the gift recipient appreciates your gesture.

As mentioned earlier you can also give a dehydrated starter as a gift.

Think of it this way: You both saved money and earned extra points for your awesomeness 🙂

Use as a compost – Be Green!

If all else fails you can use your leftover starter as an add on to your compost and proudly tell yourself you helped our planet just a tiny bit.

Self-composting of home compost contributes to reducing the emissions of carbon compounds into the air and reduces the amount of household garbage transported to landfills. This is an uncomplicated operation that anyone can easily carry out in their yard.

As it happens your starter can go a long way to invite the microbes into your compost.


Hi, my name is Amit. I started baking at a young age at my father's bakery. I hope I can answer some of your questions and hopefully you will find some hidden gems to help you out with your home baking skills.

Recent Posts