The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Myth about salt and yeast true or false ?

MariosNoKnead's picture
MariosNoKnead

Myth about salt and yeast true or false ?

Hello there i am new in forum and i have to ask if is it true than mix yeast with salt inside the flour will reduce or change the effectiveness of the yeast ? 

 

eddieruko's picture
eddieruko

this is not a myth. salt physically changes (and facilitates) the dynamics of fermentation. at the chemical level, the salt allows for moisture to move around the dough, transporting yeast, nutrients, etc., and allows gluten to develop.

too much salt, and fermentation will slow down. but there are bread recipes baked with no salt. so it's not imperative. but the bread may have dense crumb and be softer texture, and obviously taste pretty bland. 

some sourdough bakers/recipes will hold off a bit on adding salt during bulk fermentation to allow things to get started. 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Someone mentioned that KA's Jeffrey Hamelman tested this and found it had no effect. Likewise, an instructor of mine at SFBI also seemed to think this a non-issue.

I no longer worry about adding salt with the yeast.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

show that yeast is not affected as much by salt as LAB are.  At 4% LAB are killed off and at 8% yeast is killed off.  Since yeast is 2% or less for bread recipes, the effect of salt is that LAB reproduction is slowed down more then yeast reproduction.  But ,there is marked effect of salt in bread dough non the less - it slows fermentation and reproduction of both LAB and yeast.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Dab, would salt be another tool to not only slow down the rate of growth of a starter but also a way to sweeten an acidic starter?

If I understand you correctly, salt (=< 2% of starter flour) will decrease the growth of LAB more than the growth of yeast.

I’ve only used salt in a starter to slow the rise time. 

Dan

A life time of learning will only scratch the surface of information available to those connected to the Internet.

MariosNoKnead's picture
MariosNoKnead

What do you mean by LAB? 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

LAB = Lactic Acid Bacteria 

plevee's picture
plevee

I think much of the warnings are about salt killing yeast if they 'touch' when the ingredients are put in the bowl before mixing. This is definitely a myth. The other replies about the modifying action of salt on yeast during fermentation are accurate

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’m not sure about salt and yeast. I wouldn’t mix salt, water, and yeast together without the flour. But the affects of salt on bread dough and also Levain or starter’s are absolutely drastic.

For those that are not aware of this, here are 2 easy and convincing experiments.

1. Affects of salt on dough - Mix your flour and water together using your preferred method; by hand, mixer, etc. Once the dough is thoroughly mixed, add your salt and notice what happens immediately to the consistency of the dough. Note: you can use the ingredients mixed in this test for making a bread, but you will have to continue to mix until the doughs comes back together. And it will. It will be usable will no ill affects.

2. The affects of salt on Levain or starters - Mix your water and Levain together thoroughly. A wire whip is a good tool for this. After the 2 ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add your salt and continue with the whip to incorporate. The results will be drastic. Note: the ingredients for this test will be ruined and you will have to discard all of it.

If you are not aware of the affects of salt in the cases above, it will be a vivid lesson learned. I encourage you to try it.

I have a very precise nature and although my routine may not be necessary, this is what I do. In 1 bowl I mix the flour and salt by whisking together. In another separate bowl I mix the water and Levain. After both bowls are mixed they are combined and then the gluten is developed. I bake with sourdough.

If I were to bake with yeast, I’d whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast (IDY). After that I’d incorporate the water and then develop the gluten. Optionally, I mix the water and salt in 1 bowl and the flour and yeast in another. Then combine both bowls together.

Salt and starters do not mix.

Dan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

They can do as long as the salt is in low enough concentrations to not harm the wee beasties but enough to slow them down.  Salt is also used in  levains all the time too especially when the temperatures are warm and the levain  a liquid one.  Salt doesn't make something sweet it makes it salty but it keeps the LAB, that can be 10 to 100 times more than yeast in a SD bread from working in over drive to make acid which makes the bread sour and less sweet. But everything in relative.  We have learned that 2% salt in the mix makes for a bread that takes a long time to ferment and proof so that the LAB, that are restricted more by salt ,do not make a bread too sour to eat - it comes out just right or nearly so for people who like to eat SD bread.  IF 1 or 3 % salt as tested and proven over thousands of years by bakers was a better amount of salt to make a better tasting bread ......then we would be using that percent instead of 2%.  Tuscan bread has no salt and it tastes flat - it just doesn't taste right it is missing an entire flavor enhancing profile.  If you use 3% salt the bread tastes too salty and it is really bad for you health wise, according to most doctors, as well

It is too bad already at 2% health wise.  Doctors say Americans eat 3 times too much salt and when they looked to see where all of this salt in our diet was coming from they determined that 80% of it came from......bread!  Jeeze!  It made me cut my salt in bread to 1.5% or 25% which cut my overall salt intake by 20%.  I don't miss it in the bread at all and every little bit helps.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’ll have to give 1.5% salt a try.

Sad to say, but I like to sprinkle minuscule  amounts of truffle salt on my buttered sourdough bread. The flavor is crazy good!

I appreciate the lesson and the tip.

Dan

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Dab, I agree with you about using salt to slow down a starter. I’ve used that method before. My statement (Salt and Starter don’t mix) in that respect is wrong.

But have you seen the affect of thoroughly mixing the Levain with water and then adding the salt called for in the formula? If that works for you, please let me know how. I like to completely and evenly incorporate the ingredients. I’m thinking that mixing things like Levain into water is a great way to assure even distribution within the dough. If salt could be added to that mix, it seems to me it would be better integrated.

- - - Update - The levain is only 2% of the total flour fermented when I attempt to mix the water, Levain, and salt together. Is the small amount of Levain the problem? Mixing as described will instantly cause the Levain to turn into leathery (gluten?) strands that can’t be broken down. It is completely unusable. - - -

I use Trevor’s method of kneading, folding, and mixing starter straight into the dough, but it is not my preferred method. 

Thanks for taking the time to help.

Dan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

2% pre-fermented flour levain you are asking for dead levain.  Say you have 500 g if flour in your bread.  2% would be 10 g of salt and 10 g of flour.  You just mixed in 100% salt into the the flour and 10 g of water if it is a 100% hydration levain the most salt you want to put into a 2% pre-fermented flour levain would be .02 times 10 g of flour or .2 g of salt -....not 10 grams.  That would kill bothe the LAB and the Yeast in the levain = dead levain

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

It just dawned on me that you are asking whether mixing just salt + yeast (CY, I presume) + flour will have a detrimental effect on yeast viability.  You are not including any liquid (i.e., water) in this thought experiment, correct?

Then the answer must be "no effect".  Salt will have an osmotic (and detrimental) effect only when it can draw water out of living cells.  But the yeast that you add from a packet or bulk granulated instant is already industrially desiccated.  It has no water to be drawn out.  It's already dried down and dormant and added salt can do it no harm. 

Now, if water is introduced into its environment, then the salt would prevent water from hydrating and activating the yeast (in effect, it would compete with the yeast for precious available water).  Then yes, the salt would have a detrimental effect.  Salt also has non-biological effects on enzyme activities (in solution, in doughs). 

So if you're talking about salt + yeast + flour in a hydrated environment, then absolutely yes, the salt has a detrimental effect on yeast activity.  Indeed, Jeff Hamelmann himself (in BREAD) suggests adding salt to your levain under hot summer conditions to slow things down.

Tom

pmccool's picture
pmccool

but I suspect that the "yeast will kill the salt" mantra has its roots in the use of fresh / cake / compressed yeast.  Salt combined with fresh yeast would not be a good thing for the yeast. 

Even in that scenario, there's a "but..." that we have to consider.  At some point in the dough mixing, some of the yeast will come in contact with some of the salt.  Some of the yeast cells will die as a result but not a significant quantity of them; certainly not enough to keep the bread from rising.  If it were a genuine problem, we'd all be eating saltless bread because that would be the only way to keep the two from coming into contact in the same dough. 

Paul

hanseata's picture
hanseata

From my unscientific, just practice (micro-bakery) based perspective, I never noticed a difference. I bake several of Peter Reinhart‘s breads - he always adds the salt together with the other dough ingredients. Sometimes I forgot it, and added it later: no difference. I, also, often bake Tartine breads. Sometimes I forgot, and added the salt in the beginning - same diff.

And since we are at it: I never noticed a difference in adding nuts and seeds (that supposedly cut gluten strands) in the beginning or later, either. Except that it’s more difficult to work them in when the gluten has developed.

Karin

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Karin, I talked with Debra about whole grains cutting gluten. She says that is not the case. The large bits do hinder the gluten because they create a void of gluten within the matrix. She confirms your findings.

I marvel when I think about how gluten is developed using a food processor. How can it cut the strands and still fully develop gluten? There is so much to learn, and so little time.

Dan

Annabelle Chappell's picture
Annabelle Chappell

Dan, I used to make sandwich bread in my food processor.  I only stopped because the speed bored me and I like to see what's happening with the dough.  Higher hydration doughs interest me now, so I hand mix and s & f.  I still make the sandwich bread, especially for friends, but I use a standing mixer.

Annabelle

hanseata's picture
hanseata

America‘s Test Kitchen‘s cookbook “Food Processor Perfection” has a chapter on dough and breads.

This is what they say: “...the fastest, easiest way to knead almost any dough is in the food processor. The rapid action of the...blade can turn dough elastic in just minutes....”

But there are a few tricks:

1. Use the metal blade, not the dull plastic “dough” blade that drags the dough and leaves it stuck on the sides of the bowl.

2. Use only chilled or iced liquids to counteract the heat caused by the rapid action, so that yeasts cells are not killed and rise and flavor not stunted.

3. Don’t overknead, especially enriched dough, so that the butter doesn’t warm up and soften too much.

4. Add liquids to dry ingredients while processor is running to make sure they get mixed in quickly and evenly.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes, yet, but from the photos the breads (enriched and lean) turn out just fine.

No mention of knives cutting gluten strands - it’s the possible overheating that could cause harm and must be avoided.