Since sourdough isn’t based on commercial yeast but a “Starter,” you might think will it be right to freeze the sourdough dough?
Tell me, isn’t that the case when you are done with the starter, your mind boggles between hey, Mr. Chef, can you freeze sourdough dough or not? Let me straightaway kill your curiosity. Yes, you can freeze sourdough without any extraordinary steps needed.
However, apologies for bursting the bubble of your joy, sourdough is a sheer delicacy due to wild yeast and lactic acid; the life of your dough always depends on how you prepare it and your goal with it.
So, immerse yourself in the in-depth guide about sourdough, sourdough not rising issues, freezing the sourdough starter, etc.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Dough? Follow the Right Path:
Though you can’t take it as Pizza dough, it can be music to your ears that freezing sourdough dough is absolutely a fine way to store it for the long term. Yet bear in mind that the base of your dough, which is a STATER here, matters a lot, like how you prepare it, how long you let it proof, and can you proof sourdough starter or not?
Apart from these, freezing the sourdough dough isn’t like hanging a bell on a lion’s neck. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t take it lightly. This is how you do it;
How to Freeze Sourdough bread or dough:
I don’t want to sound like in a hurry, but before preparing your dough for freezing, you have to start preparations 3-4 days prior as the starter takes that much time to develop in a base for the dough. This is the only step that’ll test your patience. Else, there aren’t tons of steps you need to follow. Just follow these equations to find your answer;
- Make a dough starter (obviously)
- To charge the starter, mix flour and water to convert a piece of it into a dough.
- You may know yeast dough always demands two rises before being called a Pizza. Let the dough go through the first cycle of rising at room temperature.
- Make a big loaf or divide the dough into multiple small loaves (entirely depends on your goal) and place these dough shapes on a greased baking sheet.
- Some people also use a 2nd layer of packaging as aluminum foil, the choice is yours, but I don’t do it.
- Place dough loaves in the freezer until it hardens like a stone.
- Place the loaves in airtight containers or freezer bags, and let them rest for multiple weeks or as per your need.
- Remember, before you finally freeze the dough loaves, make a perfect vacuum to put a full stop to bacterial activity inside the scientific world.
As you comprehend, temperature plays a role of life-or-death in dough sustainability. So with the sourdough too. The lactic acid that is also known as lactobacillus bacteria, becomes lifeless in cold and dry environments. Once the temperature rises and these tiny and invisible creatures come in contact with moisture, they start to grow.
When is Sourdough Ready to Bake?
Now, you have frozen the loaf of bread, how to reuse it after freezing? This is also not the trickiest part; you should look for the same defrosting methods for sourdough as you used for pizza dough.
I don’t want to go into a long story here again; how to tell when your sourdough is ready to bake again? You need to pass through the thawing process, and it’ll be ready for your purposes.
Microwave/Toaster Method: The quicker and riskiest method to defrost dough is reheating the frozen sourdough bread. You must be flawless at temperature settings and reheating steps. This method brings sourdough back to life in just 10-15 minutes.
The Refrigerator Method: One of the safest methods is proofing the sourdough in the fridge. It’s because, to avoid the dough against unnecessary fermentation due to quick shifts in temperatures, let the sourdough proof in the fridge to maintain its texture and taste after you reuse it.
The Countertop Method: Let the frozen bread dough rest at room temperature to reuse it. This is the slowest method but less risky than the toaster or reheating in the microwave.
What to Do With Sourdough That Doesn’t Rise – SourDough Not Rising Issues:
It’s scary! When you have done immense pampering of your sourdough starter and dough, and it doesn’t rise after defrosting, it’s like a mini heart attack.
It’s perfectly alright if you are a larva at sourdough making, your 1st few attempts would not be the BEST. So, be prepared for that. However, if you want to overcome the failures with minimum effort, pick a pen, and note down the points to avoid in order to see a healthy rise in your sourdough.
I won’t go into many details, there are just points, and you have to keep tickling these in your memory.
Let the Starter age: Don’t be in a hurry. The starter needs your care for at least a few months. You probably won’t see your sourdough rising if you haven’t used a matured starter.
Stimulate the Gluten Structure: Ah, don’t forget it’s the oxygen for any kind of dough. You pump this oxygen through kneading and the right type of floor. So, be very knowledgeable about these departments.
Use the Right Temperatures: Warm temperature is a friend of microbial activity in the dough. If you haven’t defrosted the sourdough or starter correctly, don’t complain that your sourdough isn’t rising.
Too much salt: A suitable amount of salt is fine. However, if you cross the limit, it’ll disturb the dough’s pH, and you’ll probably face the sourdough not rising issue.
Over-Fermentation is a common Issue: Let it know rightly when your sourdough reaches the proper limit of fermentation. Kneading above the limit causes gluten structure to over-stimulate, that’ll also cause the dough to become hard.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter?
It’s named as a starter, but it acts like a lifejacket for sourdough. Even if I term it as a valuable Asset for your sourdough, it’ll not be wrong to say.
For a starter, it isn’t like pizza dough; you mix the ingredients, give some time for rest, and start baking it. In this case, you wait for your starter to mature enough to bear freezing temperatures. Until then, you have to keep feeding it.
A baby/fresh starter can take between 3 days to 3 weeks to get a balanced concentration of yeast and bacteria. You have to keep feeding the starter for that long. Sounds terrifying?
So, ask me again, can you freeze sourdough starter? And I’ll say absolutely yes, it’s the crucial need of the hour when you are baking sourdough the fewest times a month.
And this is where many chefs prefer freezing the sourdough starter rather than feeding it continuously. But with all these logics and submissions, you may hear somewhere that freezing the sourdough starter harms the yeast.
Well, Yes, it’s somewhat true. Depending on your strategy on how to freeze sourdough starter, it may kill some of the yeast. However, this becomes null and void when you feed the starter. Whether you are freezing the starter for a month or a quarter, you have to feed it once a month (at least).
So, the worry of killing the yeast should vanish with this answer. Let’s find out the key to achieving “sourdough starter freeze”?
How to Freeze Sourdough Starter?
- As you give pizza dough some time to rest before putting it in your freezer, the same goes for this starter too. The only difference here is unlike pizza dough; you should be emphatic with your patience as it’s not a 2-minute noodle-like thing.
- The original starter takes 4-5 days to get into a suitable condition. In some cases, this duration also prolongs to a couple of weeks. But, there would be 2 scenarios when you are finally at the freezing stage. The starter can be in a moderately dense elastic form like a dough or in semi or fully liquid.
- In the case of a thin starter, you can dry it and then let it freeze or freeze it in wet condition. Phewf!! There will be no difference in quality.
For a stiffer sourdough starter, Follow this.
- Remember! Always split the starter into portions according to your plans for baking.
- Put the starter portions in freezer bags and try to squeeze all the air from these bags.
- You can put (optional) sheet pan under the starter freezer bag.
- Once the starter gets frozen, remove the sheet pan and save it at a safe place in the freezer so you can pull it out without tearing the bag.
- You are done
For Semi or Fully liquid starters, follow two steps.
Firstly, you can put the liquid starter in an ice-cube tray. Ta-da!! Nice idea. Rest, you can follow the same steps as we do in every case of freezing dough, starter, or pizza.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to use this weird route of storing liquid starter, you can make it a thick starter before placing it in your freezer.
- Take the liquid starter in a bowl
- Add flour and water and mix it with the starter
- Remember, the ratio of flour and water should be 2:1, so you can dry it out easily.
- Let it rest for 30-40 minutes to stable at room temperatures
- Follow the same steps which we mentioned above.
How Long Can you Freeze Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread can be frozen for months to years even. However, it’s good to consume sourdough within 3 months of production for the best quality and texture. After that period, it starts deteriorating, and you won’t find the same quality at the time of freshly baked bread.
How to Defrost Sourdough Bread?
There are multiple ways to defrost sourdough bread. You can either put the whole loaf in the fridge or cut it into slices and freeze it. If you are one of those who love to take out some portions of the dough multiple times a week, then freeze the dough in sliced form. So when you want to defrost the sourdough bread, you defrost the slices, not the whole bread.
When is Sourdough Ready to Bake?
Sourdough gets ready to bake when the starter gets mature. In many cases, the starter gets into a fine structure from 3 days to 3 months. However, you can give the starter at least 14 days to utilize for sourdough baking. But, for rapid baking, 3-4 days will be a good time when sourdough will be ready to bake, but you’ll compromise on the quality.
The Bottom Line:
So, can you freeze sourdough bread? Definitely, yes! But there are a lot of efforts and precautions that need to be made to bring the frozen loaf bread out of your freezer with the same good quality and texture. So follow the right steps for storing the sourdough bread.