The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Effects of salt in preferment?

nicodvb's picture

Effects of salt in preferment?

after reading a very interesing article about the importante of salt and acidity for the structure of rye breads I verified that adding salt in the dough really seems to slow down the action of enzymes.

Since I was frustrated by the melt-down effect of my rye SD on wheat levained I made several tests: I prepared a biga with 10 gr of SD, 40 gr of water with 1 gr of salt dissolved in it, plus 100 gr of white flour. The biga raised perfectly in 12 hours, but what's most important the dough didn't have the slightest sign of deterioration: it was perfectly intact, even more firm than what I get with a white flour SD. I'm speaking of average-gluten flour, not high-gluten (that I use only when strictly necessary).

Test repeated with 2.5% of salt/flour with 75% hydratation: once again perfectly succeeded with no deterioration. I'm going to eat the pizza today ;)

I repeated the test on a poolish: 10 gr of rye SD in 100 gr of water with 1 gr of salt and 100 gr of flour. In 12 hours the poolish grew very little, maybe 20-30 percent, not more.

I wonder why there was such a dramatic difference in behaviour.

I thought that salt had a bad effect on yeasts in general and I always cared to add it at the very last moment as last element, but apparently rye SD doesn't seem to suffer from it. I still have to see what effect salt has on bigas made with my white flour SD.

Is there anything in rye SD that protects the yeasts from salt or it's only a matter of yeast concentration?
What effect does salt have on lactobacilli? especially compared to yeast, I mean: do yeasts suffer more or less than LAB the presence of salt?

Can I conclude that salt has a strengthening effect on the gluten? If it relents protease and amylase activity so much it should permit the dough to undergo a much longer fermentation time; is it correct?

I hope someone can enlighten me ;)


nicodvb's picture

I find very annying being unable to modify the original post... ;(

mrfrost's picture

Click  the "edit tab" at the top of the original post. ;) 

dstroy's picture

Click the Edit tab which is at the top of your post nicodvb.

nicodvb's picture

thanks ,)

ehanner's picture


It seems to me that the one test you did that didn't perform as well, the hydration was higher (100%). The gas produced in the Poolish bubbles up and dissipates. Most recipes call for aging a poolish for a set period of time and not for a rising volume percentage. It doesn't really matter that the preferment doesn't rise much. Once added to the dough, it will perform well.


nicodvb's picture

I see, but the poolish that I do with the same doses always triples in the same amount of time. It might not have lost its rising potential (I didn't test it), but for sure it behaved differently from usual.

charbono's picture


From what I've read, salt impacts bacteria more than yeast; and it impacts protease more than amylase.


nicodvb's picture

It's what I hoped to see confirmed ;)

yozzause's picture

Hi Nico
Good on you for conducting some tests.Your biga of course is very much like your ordinary dough and the salt used was about half the amount used in a final dough so no ill effects should have shown. I have found that my sour doughs when i first started were showing signs of gluten structure melt down and the rye especially.
But getting back to your question on SALT & its effects
I have just refered back to my hand written 43 year old technical school notes.
Glyadin and Glutin which are present in flour in about equall quantities make up the bulk of proteins of flour when mixed with water they form Gluten. Glyadin gives the body to the gluten while Glutenin provides the binding power.
Gluten is a Colloid, COLLOIDS are greatly influenced by even minute quantities of certain materials. Thus salt improves acids formed during fermentation etc,can readily alter gluten properties. We can liken gluten to our muscles, by work we can devlop our muscles and also the gluten. With the correct food we can use our muscles to our will and with the correct amount of salt and yeast foods we are able to make the gluten take its desired shape.
That passage was found in the section on flour. I will post the page on salt later before i loose what i have already done.
regards Yozza