The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts long does it last???

flashfingers's picture
flashfingers long does it last???

I just received the Il Fornaio Baking Cookbook and made my first Biga and Italian breads the other day. I was impressed at how good they came out!!

Here's the question. The book says my biga is good up to 2 weeks in the fridge if its sealed up. I'm about a week in and there are several small black spots on top of the biga. It doesn't smell funny or anything. Is my biga still good? I don't want to waste it. Can I freeze it?


pmccool's picture

black spots (or grey, or greenish, or bluish, or fuzzy, etc.) usually indicate the presence of mold.  I pitch the affected item.  Well, except for some hard cheeses...

In your house?


subfuscpersona's picture

...because biga with mold on it is definitely bad.

Double wrap in plastic wrap. Wrap once and press it down, in the plastic wrap, into a flattish disk (because it will freeze completely more quickly that way). Put a label (with the date) on it and then wrap again.

I usually make a big batch of biga (about 3 - 4 pounds at a time). After kneading, I let it rise at room temperature for an hour or two (until it has risen about 40% - 50% of the original bulk), give it a stretch-and-fold, return to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. The next day I divide it into portions (by weight) that are suitable for the recipes I use, wrap, label and freeze.

The day before you intend to bake, let it defrost, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. If, for some reason, you don't bake with it that day, you could keep it, now defrosted, in the 'frig for an extra day, but no longer. Once defrosted, if held too long, I think it develops an off taste - a little yeasty or strong.

I typically use up all my packets from a batch of frozen biga in about 2 months and it always performs well.

I've been doing this for years and it works great. Bread dough made with biga only needs a bulk rise and then the rise after shaping. It really cuts down on time if you have frozen biga on hand.

best of luck in your baking  - SF


GeekyGuy's picture

I've never heard of biga lasting longer than three days in the refrigerator.  Perhaps the author(s) of Il Fornaio Baking Cookbook use refrigerators whose temps have been set close to the freezing point?  IDK.

In the freezer, however, it should last for 3 or 4 months, so long as you wrap it air-tight.

Personally, I have always made only what I need the night before, refrigerated it, and then used it the next day, but that's my own individual preference.

I'm sure freezing it would work well, but I enjoy the actual process of making the biga, and the resulting loaf, too much to try to save time by freezing a big batch of it.  Again, that's just my personal preference.

I'm sure SF's method would well for you, should you choose to try freezing it.  Especially the part about labelling the frozen biga with either the date that it was made or an expiration date...that's a great idea.

subfuscpersona's picture

Personally, I have always made only what I need the night before, refrigerated it, and then used it the next day, but that's my own individual preference.

A biga is simply a salt-free dough made with a small amount of commercial yeast that has it's own rise and is then used as an ingredient in subsequent breads.

I have found it very useful to settle on one formula  for a biga and then develop many bread recipes based on this. If you chose this method, you shoud have a thorough understanding of the baker's percentage, as this will allow you to adapt many recipes to this approach.

With this approach one can make many different breads that use the same biga, though the proportion of biga in the final dough is up to you

flashfingers's picture


Thanks for the replys...i figured the dots weren't a good sign. It didn't smell bad so I did use some in a pizza dough with no ill effects before pitching the rest.

Now I know for next time. Yuck!