For someone trained from a young age to “waste nothing,” dealing with sourdough discard has become quite the dilemma. From the time I first “birthed” my beloved starter, I have been in a regular habit of making homemade bread at least once a week, and that has kept me on a healthy schedule for feeding and refreshing the starter. But cutting off the edge of my finger on a mandoline slicer has messed up more than just my cooking goals—it has also suspended my favorite activity of baking, and that is tougher for me to accept.
I have my KitchenAid stand mixer, which is my trusty assistant for many of my bread recipes, but the mixer cannot replace my hands for stretching and folding, final kneading or shaping my loaves. I miss doing those things. And I imagine that my starter, Pete, is confused and lonely, sitting untouched in the dark, cold refrigerator with no attention. OK, probably not. It’s me that is wrecked inside, and I look forward to reuniting with bread dough, and I will probably go nuts and make so much extra that I’ll be dropping it off for all of the neighbors.
Until that time, I am finding other ways to use my discard starter—that is, the portion of starter that must either be used or thrown away at feeding time. When the natural yeast has consumed all the usable nutrients in the previous feeding, the starter becomes “flabby” and lifeless, and isn’t suitable for leavening anything. I don’t often waste starter, given that I am baking frequently, but these are desperate times. So this morning, I made my favorite sourdough waffles. The recipe begins the night before, when a generous lump of flabby sourdough discard is combined with flour, a dab of sugar and a cup of buttermilk. In the morning, egg, oil, salt and baking soda go into the mix and then—waffle magic!
This King Arthur recipe is the best I have found for making exceptionally light and flavorful waffles with a crispy exterior. Half the recipe is more than enough for the two of us, and we usually have at least an extra serving that we can toss into the freezer for a future “lazy” breakfast. We served up today’s sourdough waffles with real maple syrup (of course) and the best bacon we have had in a very long time. Simple, but delicious, and I am relieved of guilt because I have not wasted my starter. If you’re riding the sourdough train, but haven’t yet tried waffles, they are a fun way to enjoy the fermented goodness of spent sourdough. And please, share with me your favorite uses of sourdough discard, too. I will appreciate the ideas.
It’s Saturday, and we missed our chance this morning to visit the weekly farmers’ market for more of this amazing breakfast meat. I don’t know what has been going on in the world of bacon lately, but we have been repeatedly disappointed with our usual, favorite “no-nitrite” brands from the grocery store. And that’s a good thing, in the sense that it led us to the farmers’ market last week. We made a terrific haul of local, sustainable, home-grown foods. Something about the just-picked freshness makes me feel like I’m doing good in the world.
I’m always tempted to buy up everything that looks amazing, but we kept it reasonable this time, purchasing only what we knew we would finish in a week, and I took it to the limit with the collard greens, which I cooked as usual, but then I quick-pickled the stems with a couple of radishes and garlic cloves. You know, waste nothing. I will probably never be the wonder kid that my grandmother was—but I’m working on it!