5 Unique Ways To Use Sourdough Discard

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Sourdough baking enthusiasts understand the joy of nurturing a sourdough starter, but what about the often-overlooked byproduct, the sourdough discard? Rather than letting it go to waste, there are numerous unique and sustainable ways to use sourdough discard, extending its usefulness beyond the realm of the kitchen.

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sourdough starter discard recipes

Use Sourdough Discard in Recipes

One of the most widely used ways to use sourdough discard is by incorporating it into recipes, either specific “discard” recipes or any recipe needing flour and water!

Fermenting Foods with Sourdough Discard

One of the most intriguing aspects of sourdough discard is its potential to elevate the flavors of various dishes through fermentation. Before incorporating discard into your recipes, consider fermenting it with the other grains and water/milk of the recipe for added depth and tang. By allowing the ingredients to ferment, you unlock a myriad of complex flavors, thanks to the wild yeast and lactobacilli present in the discard.

Benefits of Fermenting

Fermenting recipes not only imparts a unique and intensified flavor profile, characterized by a delightful tanginess, but it also enhances the overall digestibility of the dish. The transformative fermentation process, facilitated by the presence of wild yeast and lactobacilli, contributes to the complexity of the recipe’s taste while partially breaking down gluten and phytic acid, potentially rendering it more digestible. This dual enhancement of flavor and digestibility adds a rich and nuanced dimension to dishes incorporating fermented sourdough discard.

How to Incorporate Discard Into Recipes

When you surfer the web looking for “discard” recipes, most of them will not tell you to ferment the ingredients. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. You can take any discard recipe and put it through a beneficial ferment before cooking. Simply prepare the recipe with the required amount of flour, liquid (milk or water) and discard, excluding eggs and any other leavening agents (baking powder/soda). Allow the recipe to sit for anywhere from an hour to 24 hours. The longer the ferment, the more health benefits and rich taste. After the fermentation time, incorporate the rest of the ingredients and bake as instructed.

You can find this extra fermentation method, and a great way to use sourdough discard, in our Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Finding Sourdough Discard Recipes

Discovering recipes that incorporate sourdough discard is an exciting journey into the world of culinary experimentation. Numerous online platforms, cookbooks, and food blogs cater specifically to sourdough enthusiasts.

Check out our extensive online archive of sourdough discard recipes for inspiration!

Incorporating Sourdough Discard into Any Recipe

Incorporating sourdough discard into your favorite recipes doesn’t have to be complicated. With a bit of know-how, you can seamlessly integrate discard into both sweet and savory dishes. Understanding the conversion rates is key to achieving the desired balance between flavor and texture.

  1. Find out how much discard, by weight, you want to add to the recipe. Typically, this is around 150-200g. Example: 200g
  2. Divide the amount of discard by 2. Example: 200/2=100g
  3. Subtract this amount from the recipe’s flour and water/milk. Example: Say the recipe calls for 500g flour and 300g water, you would only use 400g flour and 200g water.
  4. Add the sourdough discard in place of the subtracted flour and water. Example: In the above example, you would add 400g flour, 200g water, and 200g discard.
  5. Follow the recipes directions for everything else and bake as directed.

Depending on the hydration of your discard, you may need to adjust the overall hydration of the recipe. Consider reducing other liquid ingredients if your discard is particularly wet. Keeping your discard at 100% hydration (a 1:1 ratio of flour and water) will ensure a smooth swap in recipes.

Use Sourdough Discard as a Plant Fertilizer

Sourdough discard, often overlooked as a byproduct of baking, can be repurposed into a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants. Packed with beneficial microorganisms, vitamins, and organic matter, sourdough fertilizer not only provides essential nutrients but also supports soil health and structure. The live cultures present in the sourdough discard contribute to the proliferation of beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil, fostering a thriving ecosystem for plant growth.

Preparation of Sourdough Fertilizer

Creating sourdough fertilizer is a simple process that involves diluting the discard to ensure optimal nutrient absorption by plants.

  1. Collection: Gather your sourdough discard in a container, ensuring it doesn’t contain any additives harmful to plants.
  2. Dilution: Mix the sourdough discard with water at a ratio of approximately 1:5, maintaining a balance that provides nutrients without overwhelming the soil.
  3. Aeration: Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours to allow aeration, promoting the activation of beneficial microorganisms.

Application and Frequency

To maximize the benefits of sourdough fertilizer, consider the following guidelines for application:

  1. Application Method: Pour the diluted sourdough discard around the base of your plants, ensuring it reaches the root zone. Avoid direct contact with plant leaves to prevent potential leaf burn.
  2. Frequency: Apply sourdough fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season, adjusting the frequency based on the specific needs of your plants.
discard recipe

Use Sourdough Discard in Skin Care

Rich in lactic acid, a natural exfoliant, and containing a host of beneficial microorganisms, sourdough discard can bring several benefits to your skin. Lactic acid gently removes dead skin cells, promoting a smoother complexion, while the live cultures present in the discard contribute to a healthy skin microbiome, potentially supporting a balanced and resilient skin barrier.

Areas of Application

Sourdough discard can be applied to various areas of the skin, making it a versatile addition to your skincare regimen.

  1. Face: Apply sourdough discard as a facial mask to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin on your face.
  2. Body: Extend its use beyond the face by applying it to other areas of your body, such as elbows, knees, or any rough patches.

How to Apply Sourdough Discard for Skincare

Incorporating sourdough discard into your skincare routine is a simple and natural process. Follow these steps for optimal results:

  1. Cleanse: Start with a clean face or area of the body. Use a mild cleanser to remove any makeup, dirt, or excess oils.
  2. Application: Apply a small amount of sourdough discard evenly to the desired area. Avoid the eye area and open wounds.
  3. Waiting Period: Allow the sourdough discard to sit on your skin for 5-10 minutes. During this time, the lactic acid will work as a gentle exfoliant.
  4. Rinse: Rinse the discard off with lukewarm water. Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
  5. Moisturize: Follow up with your regular moisturizer to lock in hydration.

Tips for Optimal Use

  • Patch Test: Before applying sourdough discard to your entire face or body, perform a patch test to ensure your skin reacts positively.
  • Frequency: Incorporate sourdough discard into your skincare routine once a week initially. Adjust the frequency based on your skin’s response.
  • Sun Protection: After using sourdough discard, apply sunscreen, especially if you’re heading outdoors. The exfoliation process can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.
uses for sourdough discard

Use Sourdough Discard For Pet Treats

One unique way to use sourdough discard is by making pet treats! Rich in probiotics, minerals, and B-vitamins, sourdough discard offers potential health benefits for pets. Probiotics contribute to a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for digestion and overall well-being. Additionally, the discard contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that can complement a pet’s diet.

How to Make Sourdough Discard Pet Treats with Peanut Butter

Creating homemade pet treats to use sourdough discard is a simple and rewarding process, especially when combined with the irresistible flavor of peanut butter. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


  • 1 cup sourdough discard
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (ensure it doesn’t contain xylitol, which is toxic to pets)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (or a pet-friendly alternative)
  • Optional: a small amount of water if the dough is too dry


  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the sourdough discard, peanut butter, egg, and whole wheat flour. Mix until a dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of water.
  3. Roll and Cut: Roll out the dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes for the treats.
  4. Bake: Place the treats on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  5. Cool: Allow the treats to cool completely before serving them to your pets.

Tips for Making Sourdough Discard Pet Treats

  • Portion Control: Be mindful of the treat sizes, especially for smaller pets. Adjust the size accordingly to avoid overfeeding.
  • Storage: Store the treats in an airtight container to maintain freshness. They can be kept at room temperature for a short period or refrigerated for longer shelf life.
  • Allergies: If your pet has allergies or specific dietary requirements, consult with your veterinarian before introducing new treats into their diet.
use sourdough discard

Use Sourdough Discard as a Natural Pest Repellent

Consider using your sourdough discard to serve as a natural and eco-friendly solution for repelling pests in your garden. The sour, tangy aroma of the discard, coupled with its composition, creates an environment that is unappealing to certain insects. The acidity and live cultures in sourdough discard can act as deterrents, making it an effective alternative to chemical-laden pest repellents.

Insects Repelled by Sourdough Discard

Sourdough discard, when strategically placed in your garden, can deter various pests. While effectiveness may vary, common insects that are often repelled include:

  • Aphids: Small, sap-sucking insects that can harm plants.
  • Ants: Sourdough discard disrupts their scent trails, discouraging them from entering the garden.
  • Slugs and Snails: The acidity of sourdough discard can create an inhospitable environment for these garden nuisances.

How to Apply Sourdough Discard to the Garden

Using sourdough discard as a pest repellent is a simple and environmentally conscious approach. Follow these steps for effective application:

  1. Collection: Collect the sourdough discard in a container, ensuring it is free from any additional ingredients like salt.
  2. Dilution: Depending on the size of your garden, dilute the sourdough discard with water. Aim for a mixture with a 1:5 or 1:10 ratio of discard to water.
  3. Spraying: Use a spray bottle or a watering can to apply the diluted sourdough discard to the foliage and soil around your plants. Ensure even coverage.
  4. Targeted Areas: Concentrate on areas where pests are likely to congregate or where plants are most susceptible.
  5. Reapplication: Reapply the sourdough discard mixture regularly, especially after rain, to maintain its effectiveness.

Tips for Effective Pest Repellent

  • Consistency is Key: Regular application is crucial for sustained pest repellent effects. Aim for weekly or bi-weekly applications during the growing season.
  • Monitor Plant Reactions: While sourdough discard is generally safe for plants, observe your garden for any adverse reactions. If you notice any issues, dilute the mixture further.
  • Experiment with Placement: Consider strategically placing small containers with sourdough discard around the garden to create localized repellent zones.
  • Combine with Other Methods: Integrate sourdough discard into a holistic pest management approach, combining it with companion planting and other natural deterrents, such as a garlic pest spray.

There are so many different ways to use up excess sourdough discard, both in the kitchen and outside of it. This versatile “discard” should be anything and everything but trash! So considered one of these options next time you have an excess and are considering tossing it. Let us know in the comments if you use any of these methods!

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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