The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A piece of old dough

jenniferw's picture

A piece of old dough

I have a piece of dough (about 6 oz or so?) that i kept from my previous loaf, intending to make it into something else later. Well I still have it weeks later, and its looking gray and has some brown liquid in it. I know this is very amateur but ive never done any sourdough... Can I knead this into a new loaf as a sourdough of sorts? If so, at what point in the making of the new dough should i start incorporating it? Thanks as always for your advice:)

sphealey's picture

Grey and brown are not generally colors that are associated with healthy dough (especially with liquid on top).  I have kept old dough in the refrigerator for up to two weeks sitting in a bed of flour in a juice glass tightly sealed with Stretch-Tite; it turned a little bit grey but perked up with I let it warm up.  Deep grey, brown, oozing liquid:  these to me are signs that that dough has passed "old" into, well, dead.


holds99's picture

I presume it has salt in it.  Only thing I could think of using it for would have been scrap dough (pate fermentee)...but that would have been a week or so ago.  With all due condolences re: your description: "looking gray and has some brown liquid in it.." I would strongly suggest saying: "sayonara"... and discarding it. 

EDIT: Check out Mike Avery's website:

Take a look at Fast Track to Sourdough.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

JIP's picture

I have a good saying I just made up for you "if it's gray throw it away".  You know I really make myself laugh. I use scrap dough from my last loaf when I make my baguettes with the Gleezer recipe from ABAA but if I am going to keep it over for more than a week I will refresh it by making a new batch nd cutting it in half like a starter.

gavinc's picture

The liquid is known as Hooch and should be stirred back in.  Freshen up the starter with a feed.  You may have to repeat this a few time to get it really active.

sphealey's picture

A clear, clean, hooch smelling of alcohol or acetic acid can be stirred back into a sourdough starter. But this not a starter; it is a piece of old dough that is also turning grey and brown. Not the same situation in my opinion.


gavinc's picture

OK, my mistake.  I have successfully re-activated starter with very dark hooch after twelve months of dormant in refrigerator by repeated dilution and feeding cycles.  Please disregard my earlier comment as I thought it may of been a stiffer starter and a similar approach was worth trying.



PaddyL's picture

I've found bits of old dough in the fridge that have gone off, and yours definitely has gone off.  Old dough can be frozen, and I've found old bits of frozen dough I'd forgot I had, but I just thawed them out and used them.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I hope you still have it. Be careful, we want the inside and not the outside parts. Let's try to see what has developed....

  1. Pour off as much hootch as you can and prepare to "operate"
  2. Then carefully cut through the surface and try to open it without getting any surface goo inside
  3. Change to a fork and remove some dough from the inside, hopefully it is still light colored.... get a good size lump on your fork does it smell?
  4. Put this sample into a small bowl and add about 2 fl oz of water and stir to dissolve
  5. (optional: pour thru a fine sieve)
  6. Combine with flour to form a soft dough like mass (what flour was in the dough btw? I would use some of that)
  7. Squish into a measuring cup, cover & mark the level
  8. Cross your fingers and watch it at room temperature and let's see what it does...

It just might have a sourdough brewing, and then again not.

Keep us informed...Mini O