The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How long to keep poolish?

foodoflife's picture

How long to keep poolish?

Hi all,

I am new to this forum, and was seeking some advice.

I have prepared a poolish using active yeast, brown sugar, water/flour to equal parts.

Kinda forgot about it sitting there on the side, this was 2 days ago. It is covered with cling film.

My question is, would the poolish still be ok to use, or should I just start again?

Any advice would be greatly received.



colinwhipple's picture

If it was not for the sugar I'd say sniff it, and if it smells OK then use it.  If the bread won't rise then it didn't work.

 But the brown sugar adds another dimension to the situation.  Sugar is not normally an ingredient of poolish.  Usually poolish is flour, water, and yeast.  I don't know......


Darkstar's picture

I agree with Colin. If it weren't for the addition of the brown sugar I'd say give it a try too.

Technically I don't think the yeast would be dead, just dormant.  The big unknown in my mind is what other compounds/bacteria/uni-cellular organisms found their way into your bowl and have grown up strong due to the sugar.

Additonally the yeast in the poolish typically isn't the main levaning agent in bread.  All of the recipes I've seen have you adding yeast to the main dough in addition to the poolish.  A poolish is more for flavor.

I'd be more inclined to start a poolish from scratch this morning and bake with it tonight to rule out the unknowns.


foodoflife's picture

Threw it away! ;)

Ok. New poolish up and running; water/flour dry active yeast (Allisons).

Been going a couple of hours now, covered with plastic bag, which seems to be going dome-like (co-2?), but the poolish doesn't seem to be expanding. I've tested the yeast using just warm water and sugar, and it's fine. Am I to assume that the yeast is working ok in the poolish?

Any help would be good.



ehanner's picture

Cain, Poolish takes 12 hours or there abouts to develop the flavor you want, depending on the temperature. Try to let it ferment at around 70-75F. It should start to bubble and rise a little. If it's colder than 70F, you won't get the development of acids that taste so good.


holds99's picture

Be patient.  EHanner's right, up to 12 hours depending on room temp.  Within 12 hours your poolish should develop and become a thick foam-like mass with slight indentation lines across the top when it's arrived at full fermentation, where it's starting to fall back on itself because it can't get any more lift.  I have refrigerated it overnight, after leaving it out four hours at room temp, for use the following morning.  Just take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temp. before proceeding with mixing or if you want to speed up the process set the container in warm water (emphasis on WARM) in the sink for ten or so minutes .  Stay away from adding anything to your poolish other than flour, water and yeast.  Rose Levy optonally adds a small amount of malt powder to her biga (Italian poolish) for her ciabatta.  I've tried it both ways, with and without malt powder, and prefer it without the malt powder.  I think the malt powder makes the interior a tiny bit tacky.  But maybe that's my imagination.