Easy sourdough: no feedings, no discards

Learn how I have been maintaining an easy sourdough starter without daily feedings or discards for decades and still bake delicious breads!

Are you tired of daily feedings or discards?

Are you intimidated by such a commitment of maintaining a sourdough starter?

You have come to the right place!

In this post, I am sharing how I have been maintaining my sourdough starter without feeding it or discarding any. I am still baking delicious breads, such as this hearty European-style whole grain bread or a classic artisan-style no-knead bread. I even make sourdough pasta with this starter.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Why you should listen to me

I basically grew up with sourdough. My mom would bake her bread about once a week (or more as we got older and ate more). She actually learned how to make a sourdough starter and bake sourdough bread from my grandmother who had learned it from her mother and so on. I don’t know how many generations this goes back but you get the drift.

My mom used the no feedings no discard method. It was only in the last few years that I became aware of the method that involves daily feedings and discards. Before then, I was using the no discard no feedings method for decades.

At this point, I have two sourdough starters: one for my white artisan-style bread and another one for my wholegrain bread. They get used at different intervals.

And just if you’re wondering, no, I have not named them.

active ripe sourdough starter

Why use the no discard no feeding method?

You might be perfectly happy with your current sourdough method.

If on the other hand, you only bake once or twice a week, this is perfect. Maybe you bake infrequently or just don’t want to commit to this daily maintenance.

Or you want to take a break, lets say because you’re going on vacation. That is probably why you have read this far.

Well, keep reading because this is for you!

How to keep a sourdough starter with no feedings and no discards

Since there is a cycle, I am just starting at the point where you have your ripe sourdough starter on the counter.

Use the starter for your recipe but be sure to keep about a golf-ball-size in the jar( about 1/8 to ¼ cup). However, this does not have to be very exact!

Now you add a lot of flour to it. Mix it all in so that your sourdough starter becomes very dry and almost not manageable. It’s also great to have extra flour underneath and on top of the starter. I like to press it down with my fork or spoon.

Put a lid on your mason jar or other non-reactive container and place it in the refrigerator. Done! It’s as simple as that.

sourdough starter packed down

When you want to bake

As you know, baking with sourdough requires a bit more forethought than baking with yeast or baking powder. With this no feed no discard method, you need to add just a little more time.

Lets say I would like to bake on Wednesday, I take my starter out of the fridge Tuesday evening before I head to bed. By this time, I have this whole routine down.

Simply add about ¼ -½ cup of water to your dry starter and stir it well. When it was sitting in the refrigerator it essentially became inactive. Now we are re-activating it.

In the morning, you should have a ripe, active sourdough starter that you can use as you would normally.

Sometimes, I like to create a hybrid method: that means I will activate my starter, let it sit for about 16 hours, then discard half of it and add flour and water to it. I will then bake the following day. This step is completely optional, though!

active ripe sourdough starter

What happens next?

When you are ready to bake or use your sourdough starter, simply remember to keep a bit left. Now, you can go back to the top and repeat the steps outlined there.

How long can I keep the sourdough starter in the refrigerator?

My short answer: I have kept it there for 6 weeks and still used it successfully.

Here’s my longer answer: Having had my sourdough starter sit in the fridge for 6 weeks was pushing it a little. It had a strong, almost pungent smell. At that point, I definitely recommend taking it out 2 to 3 days before you’d like to use it and do 2-3 feedings with discards. While I don’t recommend letting your starter sit in the fridge that long on a regular basis, I baked with it without any problems.

Usually, I keep my whole-grain sourdough starter in the refrigerator for about 10 days or so. Even keeping it for 2-3 weeks is no problem.

Which method is best for you?

Now that you know how easy it is to keep a no-maintenance sourdough starter, you can also decide which method works best for you. As I mentioned above, I sometimes add a feeding and a discard to my starters to give them a boost. I like to call this my “hybrid method”.

That might be a perfect option for you. But once again, if you’re baking and using your sourdough starter on a daily basis, you’ll want to stick with keeping it on your counter and taking care of it there.

I hope I have given you the knowledge to make sourdough work for you! I know it has for me!

Do you have any questions or comments for me? Let me know below!

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No Feedings, No Discards Sourdough Starter

54 thoughts on “Easy Sourdough Starter: No feedings, no discards”

    1. It really doesn’t matter so much. I just try to keep any critters out, so a loose-fitting lid or some cloth is fine. Hope this helps ~ Anja

        1. Hey there, I like my sourdough starter to have the consistency of pancake batter. You can add some more flour if you like, it won’t hurt it, it might just take another day to get all bubbly again. But it sounds like you created a perfectly ripe starter!!!

  1. Hello!
    First of all thank you for the article!
    It’s since 2015 that I use sourdough starter and I’ve never heard about this method of conservation.
    It works perfectly and helps to keep the starter always in perfect conditions.
    I’m very grateful to you.
    Best
    Rik

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  3. Hi Anja, I tried making the starter using homemade buttermilk(1 cup milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice). After 12 hours I saw bubbles in my starter and a layer of liquid at the bottom of the container. Is this meant to be like that and should I be stirring the liquid back into the starter?

    1. Hi Joyce, normally I recommend using cultured buttermilk (vs creating curdling with lemon juice) but it sounds like you might have a good starter on the way. I have never seen the liquid on the bottom but I would just stir it back in and keep watching it. Hope this helps ~ Anja

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  7. How do you make the initial starter. I must have missed that. I’m excited to try this. I have done this and feeding daily is not what want to do. Have you shared recipe for you bread.

  8. Hi Anja, first I really love your video and thank you for sharing! I tried to do the beginning sourdough starter this week with the buttermilk and rye flour. I placed the starter in my kitchen windowsill. On day 4 I went to check out how it was doing and there was a ring of mold around the mason jar above the starter. I dumped the starter in the garbage and noticed that my starter was bubbly. I was so sad to have dumped it… Has this ever happened to you and if so do you have any recommendations? Should I have just wiped off the mold? To disclose I live in Nevada and it has been about 32 – 50 degrees. I turn my heat down at night so that my home gets to a low of 63 degrees or so. I have placed the starter on a coffee cup warmer at night so that the starter stays closer to the 68 degrees. I have to wonder if this caused the mold? We are very dry here in Nevada so it was really weird that, that happened. Thank you! Laurie

    1. Hi Laurie, thank you for reaching out! Mold on a sourdough starter jar can happen for any number of reasons but most likely because the jar may not have been very clean and/or had soap residue on it. If there’s only a little bit, you can wipe it off. I don’t think 68 degrees is too warm for your starter. My best recommendation is to start over again and see what happens. Hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions 💛 ~ Anja

      1. Good morning! Thank you for writing me back about the mold! I did start a new one and I it seems to be successful!! I have one more question please… I want to make the no knead sourdough bread as you shared in your video. In your video you put all of your starter into the bread with no remaining for a next loaf. My question is, should I increase the starter so that I will have a 1/4 cup or so left over after using 1 cup for the bread? I am betting the answer is yes but I would like to clarify. When you dumped out half I don’t understand why? Thank you Anja!

        1. I am so glad you were able to use the butter mold correctly!! As for the no-knead bread, I may have had some extra starter somewhere for the video. Ideally, you want about 1 cup of sourdough starter for the bread and about ¼ c or so that goes back in the fridge. So, yes, make sure you have enough. However, since the recipe also calls for yeast and barley malt, it is not super critical that you have exactly 1 cup of starter. You can probably get away with ¾ c and let it rise a tad longer. I hope this helps ~ Anja

  9. Diane Cournoyer

    Hi. I’ve had my starter in the fridge for a little over a week. It’s thick but pourable with a lot of bubbles. I took out a cup to sit out overnight to use tomorrow. Should I add more flour to it?

    1. Hi Diane, I would thicken your sourdough starter even more when you keep it in the fridge. I always add so much flour that it’s very hard and dry and then I add some more. Hope this helps but let me know if you have more questions ~ Anja

  10. Hi Anja,
    I have enjoyed your YouTube clips about sour dough starters and bread making!
    My challenge is that I have started the sour dough starter twice. Each time about day 3or 4 mold starts grown around the top edge and I smell mold even after removing it. Now sure how to proceed with the starter now. Can you advise? Thank you, Shirley

    1. Hi Shirley, thank you so much for reaching out. I personally have not had any issues with mold but I hear it does happen. There could be contamination in the jar from soap residue, your tap water, or mold spores in the air. Here’s an article you might like to read: https://www.theclevercarrot.com/2018/03/troubleshooting-your-sourdough-starter/comment-page-1/ If this doesn’t help, I would suggest buying a starter and seeing if that makes a difference. Here’s one from a reputable company: https://amzn.to/39Wtaf7 Hope this helps and let me know if you’ve been having success ~ Anja

  11. Dear Anja,
    This time, I took out starter out Sunday evening and started stirring at 9 pm. Then I checked it at 7 am. It had lots of small bubbles on top and a few puffy places. I did the float test and it floated! So 10 hours after adding the water and stirring it up it was ready. I did not want to wait longer cause then it might go flat on me. It did work last time when flat and de-bubbled etc. but I liked the idea of using it when all ready to go. SO, I got the flours out and started baking. I love this system and thank you again for sharing it.

    I’d love your wholegrain sourdough recipe if you can share it. I am using half white high protein and half spelt and oat in mine.
    Thanks! Susan

  12. Dear Anja,

    Another question: after you have added the water and stirred up your starter, how long does it take to be ready for baking? How do you decide that your starter is ready, and after about how many hours is that? I take out in evening and stir up etc. so I can bake in the morning.

    Thanks again!
    Susan

    1. Hi Susan, I usually take the starter out in the evening, add the water, stir it up, and let it sit overnight. Then I make the bread in the morning and bake in the evening. I have been doing this for decades. Usually, I gauge the bread once it’s in the loaf pan. Sometimes, it rises so fast, I bake it in the afternoon and sometimes, I need to let it sit longer in which case I bake in the evening. Hope this helps! Have fun, Anja

      1. Dear Anja,
        This time, I took out starter out Sunday evening and started stirring at 9 pm. Then I checked it at 7 am. It had lots of small bubbles on top and a few puffy places. I did the float test and it floated! So 10 hours after adding the water and stirring it up it was ready. I did not want to wait longer cause then it might go flat on me. It did work last time when flat and de-bubbled etc. but I liked the idea of using it when all ready to go. SO, I got the flours out and started baking. I love this system and thank you again for sharing it.

        I’d love your wholegrain sourdough recipe if you can share it. I am using half white high protein and half spelt and oat in mine.
        Thanks! Susan

  13. Hi, i wonder what the difference is between this method and the “scrape method” that i use is? I leave just the scrapes in the jar, put it in the fridge and prior to baking i feed it with the amount needed. Then i just put the scrapes back again. By feeding it with a lot of flour as you do, does this have any other effect?

    1. Thank you for your comment and question. Since I am not that familiar with the “scrape method”, I can’t say for sure. It sounds similar though. I add all this flour to slow down the starter as it waits in the fridge for me to do something with it. Hope this helps!

  14. Hello Anja, I was so happy to find this system of no feeding and no discards! I have one bread baked with it and a second one is rising now. I have some questions:
    1. After adding water and smushing and stirring with a fork, I find there are still small lumps left. Is OK?
    2. Do you keep a tight lid on your starter in the frig or loose?
    3. Do you keep a tight lid on your starter on the counter top or loose?
    4. How long does it normally take for the starter to be bubbly and active? I ask because both times now let starter do its thing for 11-12 hours on counter top in 68 degree house. At about 10-11 hours there were some patches of small bubbles and some swelling. So I let it go longer but there was not much change. I di the float test and it sank! I used it anyway and bread rose fine. I have white and rye in the starter. Any tips? It did not look all bubbly like yours.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH! and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
    Susan

    1. Hi Susan, I am so glad you like my sourdough method! Now for your questions:
      1. Lumps are ok. I like to break up bigger ones but don’t worry about the smaller ones.
      2. I do but I don’t think it’s necessary unless you keep it right next to your sauerkraut or totally different ferment.
      3. Same thing here as #2
      4. I often don’t get a very bubbly sourdough starter but my bread ALWAYS rises. If you wanted a more active starter you could do one discard/feed the day before you bake. Overall, your starter will get better over time and adapt to your specific conditions.
      Hope this helps and Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Anja 💛

      1. Thank you so much! The bread that was rising came out to be the highest bread yet. I had used 1/2 c. water plus 3/4 cup pourable starter for 2 1/4 cups flour. It was our best bread yet and proved that bubbles and floating were not important. That is all that matters besides not discarding! Thank you again for sharing this great time proven system~!

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  16. Hi Anja,

    I’ve tried the feed and discard method before and I totally failed, lol. I really want to be successful with a sourdough starter, so I will definitely have to give your method a try!

    Thanks for sharing this post with us on the Embracing Home and Family link-up party. Hope to have you link up again with us this Friday!!

    -Cherelle

    1. Hey Cherelle, I am so happy that you want to try my method! Do let me know how it’s working for you! And yes, I’d love to link up with you again!

  17. Wow! This makes starting a starter so much more approachable! All the feedings and discard stuff overwhelms me! This looks way easier!

  18. This is so great! Thanks for the recommendations. I think this simplifies sourdough so much for me I will definitely be trying this method!

  19. This was so interesting to learn about Anja! Thank you for sharing. I keep my starter in the fridge since I bake only once or twice a week with it. I’ve stored it there all summer long and not used/fed it until the first cool, fall day. So I know it lasts weeks and weeks using that method. I think I’d like to try this German way though!

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