Updated: Sep 17
If you're yet to use your lockdown to perfect the art of sourdough I can highly recommend you follow The Boy Who Bakes for an easy tutorial. Trust me when I say to follow all the steps to a T. I've made many a batch where I skipped a step, forgot about the dough and went to bed but still popped it in the oven the next day. Please learn from my mistakes, I can vouch for the fact that the best results come from following Edd's advice.
I get a lot of satisfaction out of making sourdough and not just from being able to enjoy a fresh loaf. My only gripe is that when you start out, there is a lot of discard and I hate waste. Discard for those not on the sourdough bandwagon is the left over starter that is no longer active so not used in your final bake. So naturally, I googled and got advice on what to do with the excess to avoid waste and here is what I've tried and can recommend.
Dehydrate seemed like the perfect solution. It's easy to dehydrate sourdough, simply spread it thinly on a lined baking tray and leave in a cool dry place until completely dried out. Break into shards and store in an airtight container.
The problem I found with this method is to bring it back to life and active I had to feed the starter for 3 days which left me with more discard than I started with. So I wouldn't recommend this method unless you're taking a big break from baking. In other words, this is a great way to store starter for a long period of time. It could also be a nice way to gift your starter if you have to send it by post though.
For those who are curious, I used this method from King Arthur Baking Company.
This would have to be the tastiest way to use up your discard. And so very simple with only 5 ingredients you can whip up a batch for brekkie. They are so tasty and are sure to impress the family. I love this recipe too as it uses up a whole 200g of discard for 4 crumpets, making it a quick way to use up your discard when you've got a lot to get through. I followed the Essential Ingredient recipe and found it worked really well.
This is another tasty way to use up discard and could be nice to do if you've got friends coming over (or perhaps to send to friends to enjoy while you zoom with a glass of wine and cheese together). There are so many recipes out there you can try and it's worth experimenting a few recipes until you find the one you like. I trialled The Clever Carrots Puffed Sourdough Crackers with Gruyere and Thyme. My only tip would be to cut your crackers bigger than you want the final result as they shrink during baking.
While it was a nice treat to have fresh homemade crackers, you only use 60g of discard for a whole lot of crackers that you need to eat in three days. So only make this if you're ready to eat the crackers.
I also tried King Arthur Bakings recipe and loved it. It's so simple and you don't need to waste time using a cookie cutter. You can also use what herbs you have lying around, I used up the last of a mixed Italian herb I had that was nearing it's best before date. I also added a some finely grated parmesan to top off the crackers. I added the cheese while the crackers were still hot so the cheese slightly melted and stuck to the crackers. The best part about this recipe is it uses a whole cup of discard. This makes it the perfect recipe if you have a lot of discard to use.
This is by far the easiest way to keep your discard. I've had success putting the leftover starter in a container in 35g lots (the amount I need for 1 loaf) and freezing. When I'm ready I take out of the freezer, allow to thaw and then feed as normal. It's usually ready the next day. The Spruce Eats has more advice on freezing that I found helpful.
Tweak Your Starter Method
I feel like my mind was blown when I was told to just tweak my feeding schedule to only use the amount of starter that I would need and not have any leftovers. Or use just enough to have a little left over that you can chill or freeze until your next batch. Using The Boy Who Bakes equations I use 35g starter, 35g flour and 35g water to feed a starter when I don't want any left overs. If I want left overs to use for my next batch, ie I've run out of all my starter then I go back to his full recommendations.
If you've tried another option, I'd love to hear it.