The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scaling ppm?

  • Pin It
Brotnik's picture

Scaling ppm?

I'm trying a recipe from The Taste of Bread which like most of the others, calls for ascorbic acid.             (Exhibit 11-9) 

In the ingredient columns is printed the percentages, for example:

Salt    200g      2%

Yeast  200g      2%

A. acid 30mgs  30ppm 

I've adjusted the other ingredients in the recipe, but how do I adjust the ppms of ascorbic acid?


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Brotnik. 

Welcome to TFL! Depending on the amount of dough you are making, you want to use between a smidgen and a pinch of ascorbic acid.  Certainly, much less than a dash.  

My package of ascorbic acid from King Arthur Flour says to use 1/8 tsp, but it doesn't give a ratio of ascorbic acid to flour. Anyway, you don't use very much. 


RFMonaco's picture

1 PPM is 1/1,000,000 = 0.000001 which would be 0.0001%

30 ppm = 30/1,000,000 = 0.003%

Henry's picture



Don’t blow your brains out with ascorbic acid.

It’s an oxidizer, commonly used at 75ppm although in the USA

there is no usage limit .

It’s been found that between one or two grams per 100kg of flour will cause tightening of the gluten.

For what you’re making, one or two loaves and feel that you must add it, crush one vitamin C tablet and use less than a quarter of the powder in your dough or as David is suggesting: between a smidgen and a pinch.

If you’ve seen the Calvel video, he’s got a fair sized dough going in the spiral mixer yet adds just a “dash” of ascorbic.

I wondered why he would add it to American flour but then, you can’t argue with Mr. R Calvel.


dougal's picture

PPM is parts per million.

A million is a thousand thousand.

So PPM is the same as to thousandths per thousand...

which is really helpful to those using metric quantities because a thousand grams is a kilogram and a thousandth of a gram is a milligram.

Therefore PPM is exactly the same as milligrams per kilo. (This is very useful when scaling recipes - either for baking or for curing meat!)

1000 ppm is 1g (1000mg) per kg.

25 being 1/40th of 1000

thus 25ppm is 1g per 40kg of flour. Or 1/40th of a gram per kilo of flour. Its not much!

However, more isn't necessarily harmful - either to the bread or the eater.

A single "high strength" Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) tabletmight contain 500 or 1000 mg of the stuff. And that much certainly shouldn't harm people.

But because the stuff is *much* more expensive than flour, commercially, the minimum would be the economic thing to add!


Just to be clear Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is an ANTI-oxidant... !! (But that's not the whole story of its use in bread...)


A fairly simple way of using/measuring Vitamin C is to dissolve it in water, making a dilute solution of known and convenient concentration.


Say your Vit C tablet contains 500mg.

So dissolve it in 500g of water.

If you are wanting, say 80mg of Vit C, then measure out 80g of the solution and then make this up to whatever quantity of water your recipe requires ... (Drink the rest of the Vitamin C solution - its good for you!)



Brotnik wrote:
In the ingredient columns is printed the percentages, for example:

Salt 200g 2%

Yeast 200g 2%

A. acid 30mgs 30ppm

I've adjusted the other ingredients in the recipe, but how do I adjust the ppms of ascorbic acid?

It looks like this quote must contain an error (whether from the original, the English translated edition or the copying...)

200g of salt (or yeast) being 2% implies that we are dealing with 10kg of flour. (Bakers Percent)

30 ppm is 30mg/kg and so for 10kg of flour, we should be dealing with 10 x 30 (ie 300) milligrams of Ascrorbic Acid (Vitamin C). So that'd be 300mg not 30mg in the recipe for 10kg flour...


tadmitchell's picture

I took a class with Jeffery Hamelman and asked about Calvel's use of ascorbic acid. He said you don't need it with North American flours since they are so strong. Calvel uses it because he's working with weaker European flours.

As the other mention above it's an oxidant. That means it will strengthen your dough (help the gluten bonds form), but at the cost of oxidizing (bleaching) some of the flavor out of your dough.

I also asked Jeffery about Calvel's use of malt. He said that North American flours are already malted (they contain malted barley flour). European flours don't. So, we don't need to add malt over here. However, he did point out that when grinding your own flour it's a good idea to add some (since it doesn't already contain it). Functionally, the malt helps the yeast perform better because of the enzymes it contains.

dougal's picture

As the other mention above it's an oxidant. That means it will strengthen your dough (help the gluten bonds form), but at the cost of oxidizing (bleaching) some of the flavor out of your dough.

Unfortunately, this really isn't true - its basis is an incorrect baker's simplification.

First, Ascorbic/Ascorbate/VitaminC DOES "strengthen gluten", and so do oxidising agents, and oxidising agents do 'bleach' (whiten) the flour.

BUT VitaminC is an ANTI-oxidant, chemically a "reducing agent" - the chemical opposite of an oxidising agent. Don't believe me? - then look it up!

(Maybe start here or here )

In dough, it works by a rather different mechanism to oxidisers, but it does also end up "strengthening" the gluten. And misleading some, even some of the best, baker-authors...

{summarise long explanation: VitaminC acts against Glutathione weakening the gluten}


Anyway, if you are using Wholemeal/Wholegrain/Bran-rich flour, with long fermentation or soaking times (like Reinhart's "epoxies"), then that is an example of an occasion when using some VitaminC will "strengthen" the gluten (actually, reduce the weakening of the gluten), and thereby help your loaf to hold gas better, giving a taller, lighter loaf - rather than a flat, heavy one....

tadmitchell's picture

If you're scaling recipes, give my Baker's Calculator a try. You can download it at:

I'd love any feedback that you may have.