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Jun 16, 2009 01:46 PM

Too frugal for Sourdough?

I am in the process of making a "seed" for rye bread as outlined in the Bread Baker's Apprentice. Day 3 and 4 include throwing out HALF of the starter and feeding the remaining dough. Yesterday, Day 3, instead of throwing out half, I found another beaker, placed half the starter and then fed both.

Day 4 is ending, and I am supposed to throw out half again? I am running out of beakers.

I can't stand to throw out anything that is edible. What is the logic here? And is there anyone in the Boston area that wants a New York Deli Rye starter? I seem to have quite a bit to give away if indeed, I don't need it.

Would love thoughts from sourdough experts.

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  1. When I've maintained sourdough starters, I've always had to use up about half of it every couple days, otherwise it starts to die off. You have to keep feeding it, obviously, or it will die. but then you end up with a gigantic amount of starter that's mostly dead. The longer your culture lives, the stronger and more pronounced the tang will be. You can use your "discarded" starter for something else, like biscuits or pancakes and continue culturing for your rye bread.

    5 Replies
    1. re: northside food

      I agree. I like to make a small batch of rolls for dinner, pancakes, waffles, etc. - but I haven't tried biscuits yet. My flat bread recipe calls for about 65 - 70% hydration so using excess starter for that works quite well by simply adding a bit of oil, salt and yeast (egg, if you like)

      1. re: todao

        Really dumb question here... this sourdough is really new to me. Do I just use the discarded starter alone to make dinner rolls [etc] or do I use it as a fermentee for another batch of bread?

        1. re: smtucker

          Well, I just went ahead and tried this. Used the same amount of discarded sourdough starter by weight as fermentée for a simple Pain de Campagne. Reduced the amount of yeast from 1/2 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon and shaped the loaf in a banneton-like device. Removal from the basket didn't go that well, but I threw it into a 550º degree oven using the hearth method.

          Almost no oven spring, the resulting loaf's shape reminds me of my cat when he stretches out across the length of a table. However, the texture and flavor are terrific; much like a ciabatta bread with a soft crumb. Will stop by the Italian market and buy some cold cuts to make some sandwiches for lunch. Cut lengthwise, this bread will be a nice addition to the lunch table.

          1. re: smtucker

            Sound like the dilemma I had with the starter for Amish Friendship bread - it can easily become a sorcerer's apprentice-type debacle. I only bake bread in cold weather but I live in Billerica - I'll shout out if I ever go Amish again and maybe we can engineer a swap!

            1. re: greygarious

              The starter now owns one whole shelf in the fridge. My primary eating partner is considering a dorm sized fridge just for the starters. So contact me anytime! [btw, makes great pizza dough.]

      2. You could always try using Dan Lepard's method which involves making a rather doughy starter, and then freezing large cookie scoop sized balls which you then use to create an overnight leaven.

        I've had really great results with this method, and though I perhaps to think a bit further ahead, it also makes baking bread much easier and much less wasteful.

        1. I have only been making sourdough for maybe three years now so maybe I am just ignorant on this, but I have never heard of having to throw out half of the starter. I keep mine in the fridge, dump it all into a mixing bowl with flour & warm water. In about 6 hours I divide it again-1 half goes back in the fridge & the other half goes to making a loaf.

          I have never had any problems & don't "feed" mine. I make bread at least once a week, but I have gone even up to a month without messing with it & it was fine when I got the starter back out. The only problem I encountered was moving & discovering there was no refrigerator in our new place so my poor original starter got thrown out. It sat out too long & I wasn't sure about using it. It was pretty easy to make new one though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MrsJTW

            Also, my starter is just made of bread flour, but when I divide it I sometimes make a rye loaf. Half rye. It doesn't go in the starter though. I got my recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Bittman...

          2. Well, since this thread was revived 4 years later, in fact, a barm does need to be fed regularly. Rye sourdough is its own kind of beast. The good news? A number of fellow chowhound-ers did want some rye starter. They arrived with vessels and left with starter. As is often the case, it all worked out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: smtucker

              I bought sourdough the other day for dinner and my daughter started telling me they used to have a starter at daycare (they do all kinds of projects). She found it quite a demanding beast, they kept feeding it, etc etc. She doesn't think they ever did any baking with it.
              I'm all, how did I not know this??

              1. re: smtucker

                Being fed is one thing, but I don't understand having to throw some of it out.

              2. I don't throw out my starter.

                First, you can start a starter with only a teaspoon of flour and water. More is not necessary.

                Second, the starter that you remove so you don't wind up with buckets and buckets of it can be used to make cake, brownies, pancakes, waffles, whatever. Just calculate the amount of flour and water in the starter you're using and reduce the flour and water in the recipe by the same amount.