The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can poolish go bad? What happens if it sits for days instead of hours?

Lord Jezo's picture
Lord Jezo

Can poolish go bad? What happens if it sits for days instead of hours?

What changes the longer you let poolish sit?  The basic reciepe I use calls for an over night poolish sit but I have recently been pulled away from baking for a couple days so instead of 8 to 10 hours of the poolish doing its thing I have had it sititng for 2 and a half days.  I have noticed a crust forming on the top but is it still good?  It doesn't grow mold or anything on it does it?  Or would the flavor just be enhanced for a longer sit time?  Normally I let it sit as long as called for but this time other circumstances have caused me to have aged poolish.

nicodvb's picture

and killed the yeasts. Yeasts can't live below a given PH.

Better drop it, or at least not rely on it as a levaining agent.

cranbo's picture

yeast will likely use up all the food in the doug and the poolish may be too sour.

I agree, don't use it for leavening, but as a flavoring agent it might still work for you. 

clazar123's picture

Add some additional flour,sugar,salt and a little baking soda and you have great pancake batter.



Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

An over-ripe poolish (and even 24 hours on the counter would be crazy over-ripe) has so much enzyme activity going on that it will destroy the gluten structure of your dough.  By 2 days the yeast have probably died as well.  You'll end up with a sticky mess that won't rise well, and won't brown well in the oven.  Run, don't walk and pour it down the drain.

(Though clazar123 is probably right that it could still make nice pancakes--you don't want gluten there anyway!)

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

pour it down the drain.

I don't think this is the best idea, I certainly wouldn't want that in my drain!


mrfrost's picture

I usually always follow the advice of up to about 16 hrs at room temp and up to 3 days refrigerated for yeasted preferments.

Although I've never tried the 2 day old stuff here, this recipe makes a couple of great sandwich loaves:

KAF Sharing Bread

"1) To make the starter: Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, ascorbic acid, sugar, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Mix to combine, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours, or up to about 2 days."

As with many of there recipes, this one links to their accompanying blog, with step by step pictorials, and lots of other helpful discussion and information. Blog link:

Next time, suggest consider refrigerating your poolish/biga if, after about 10-12 hour point, you are not pretty sure you will use it as planned.

2 day poolish:

bpezzell's picture

I beg to differ, but a 24 + hour poolish, particularly with whole grain in it, will almost always perform adequately in raising bread, and suffer no ill effects in as far as browning is concerned. I don't think it boosts flavor significantly but it doesn't ruin it either. Your ambient temperature is going to play a huge factor here in the quality of the sponge.

That said, 2 & a half days is pushing it.

sarafina's picture

How would it be different from a sourdough starter? I've used bigas that were 2 days old with no problem. I don't rely on the biga for all the leavening so if it's died off that's ok. The loaf still benefits from the digested glutens left by the yeasties.

bpezzell's picture

I agree with you sarafina. I'm thinking about my stiff-dough starter, so digested it is deadly in it's stickiness. That's when it seems to do it's best job refreshing a sponge for a new dough.