The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Keeping sourdough dough in the fridge

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neoncoyote's picture

Keeping sourdough dough in the fridge

I made my first batch of sourdough this evening; it's on its first rise as I type. It made a substantial batch.

The only bread recipes I've used thus far are the mix-and-refrigerate types in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Is there any reason I couldn't use a portion of this dough, and refrigerate the rest for later use? If this works for sourdough, does the same principle of the dough developing more flavor as it ages in the fridge apply? Would there be a time limit in the fridge before the dough becomes unuseable?


flournwater's picture

"refrigerate ... for later use" would depend upon how far down the line "later use" might be.  You might want to consider freezing what you don't use in the next day or so.


neoncoyote's picture
Yerffej's picture

You can refrigerate your dough for a few days and then use it.  Beyond about three days you are likely to experience changes in the dough that will make it difficult to work with.


wally's picture

I wouldn't go beyond about 24 hours.  I've corresponded with Jeffrey Hamelman about refrigerating focaccia dough made with a biga, and he told me he never refrigerates dough beyond 18 hours, but that after 24 hours you can expect significant changes in the dough's flavor.  That and the extended effects of protease activity are likely to give you a dough that's degraded.

I've never tried freezing sourdough but have heard from folks who claim to have done so successfully and had good bakes, so flournwater's advice may be the best.


CaperAsh's picture

That's interesting. I just got the 5-minutes book and made a batch of dough, partly with commercial yeast and half with some of my own starter. It is 4 days and counting and I intend to make a loaf a day until it is finished. He says it's good for up to 14 days, so I'll find out and report back, though it will probably run out by about Day 9-10. So far it has been fine, in fact better each day taste-wise.

bassopotamus's picture

Depends on the recipe, but should be doable. I mostly use Reinhart's recipe from Artisan bread every day, and hold it over night. I have done other recipes out of that book (yeast) and held them for 3-4 days and they still ork fine. Peak is probably  about the 3rd day.

CaperAsh's picture

I lost track of this thread, but the 5-min Artisan dough was fine for at least 10 days. I think the last loaf wasn't so hot around Day 14 but unfortunately it's been a while.


Meanwhile, in order to learn more, I have worked with some recipes from Lahey's My Bread and will try a few from Reinharts' mentioned above. Get nicer looking loaves by putting in a pot versus on pizza stone, but find the 5-minute method consistently produces good texture and taste, albeit I am now using natural starters versus their prolonged Biga approach.

I think what I like about the no-knead approaches is not so much the lack of kneading but the emphasis on cold fermentation. Well, Lahey doesn't do that. Reinhart and 5 minute do. Mainly because

a) no need to have steady temperatures in area where bread is fermenting/proofing

b) much easier to shape high fermentation dough when it is cold and thus get it into the oven in one piece.

So I am becoming a big fan of cold fermentation and may very well rely on it almost exclusively since it is so easy to work with in terms of both time and temperature control. Add in good ingredients and it is very hard to fail to produce delicious loaves.