Is over fermented dough safe to eat?

In this brief guide we will address the question, “is over fermented dough safe to eat?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like what to do with over fermented dough and how to tell if your bread has gone bad. 

Is over fermented dough safe to eat?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to eat over fermented dough. However, it may not be very pleasing for your tastebuds. Most of the bread dough contains flour, water, salt, and yeast. If your dough is only made up of these ingredients, it is safe to assume that an over fermented dough will not negatively impact your health. 

However, like mentioned earlier, it will be displeasing to your taste buds. This will either be due to a yeasty or alcoholic taste owing to the degree of over fermentation. When your dough is over fermented, it only means that there was excessive gas production during the proofing. There will be excess gas secretion which the dough won’t be able to hold. Consequently, deflating the dough. 

Note that over fermented dough is safe to eat when it comes to recipes involving simple water and sugar. For breads like Challah, where egg is used, there are possible chances of salmonella contamination. 

This is because when egg containing ingredients are left out in the open for too long, they have possible chances of contamination. This is mainly because of their nutrient rich profile and moisture that is best suited to most microorganisms. It is probably best to throw away an over fermented dough that contains such ingredients. 

What is fermented dough? 

Fermented dough is the one that is produced as a result of the action of yeast on a dough containing sugar. This dough along with yeast is left in a warm place to allow the fermentation to take place. Such a dough is called fermented dough.

How to tell if your dough is over fermented? 

When it comes to checking the proofing time, there are simple methods involving taste and smell that can be used. We will also discuss the poking test that you can use to identify whether your dough is over proofed or not. 

How does your dough smell?

Any off smell that your dough gives is probably a result of over fermentation. This is because when you give additional time to the yeast, it will convert the sugars into alcohol. Most people describe it as a beer-like smell. So right there is your main identification point if your dough smells a bit funny. This is a common problem with sweeter breads like brioche.

The finger poke test. 

This is a much simpler way to tell if your dough is over fermented. Simply poke a finger inside the dough and observe. 

If the dough does not come back to its original position, it means that your dough is over fermented. This is because when you over ferment, the dough loses its elasticity. This elasticity is only possible with a good proofing time when the gluten formation and gaseous production is adequate. 

Also keep in mind that this test should not be done immediately when you have set your dough to rise. This test should be done after you shape it.

What to do with over fermented dough? 

Well, over fermentation is not a sudden process. You probably already know if your dough is over fermented. But don’t worry! You don’t necessarily have to throw it away. You can still use that over fermented dough to make sourdough pancakes by following a simple recipe. 

There is also one other way which might prove effective, but it can vary from one dough to another. This method involves the reshaping of this over fermented dough by first eliminating all the extra air, and then by giving it some proofing time. However, I personally doubt that this will be of much use because once over fermented, the yeasty taste will still be there. 

You can utilize the over fermented dough in any of the ways. It is also safe to eat provided your taste buds stay by your side. However, you should be very careful about any of the signs of spoilage mentioned below. If you see any of these, it is best to throw the load away and bake a new one.

Other FAQs about Dough which you may be interested in.

How long does homemade cookie dough last in the fridge?

Can you get sick from eating expired dough?

How long can cookie dough last in the fridge?

How to tell if your dough has gone bad?

Like mentioned earlier, the best by date is just an estimate and your bread may still be fresh past this date. Therefore, as long as you are aware of the signs of spoilage, the bread will be safe to consume. Here are some classical indicators that help you identify that the bread is no longer fresh or safe to consume. 

  1. Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in different colours. It could be black, green, white, or pink. If you see such a growth or color formation on your bread, you should discard it immediately. 

  1. Unpleasant odor 

This is perhaps the most common technique while handling any food product. Simply discard the loaf when you notice the odour of the bread has changed. It indicates either the presence of a contaminant or the growth of microorganisms. 

  1. Strange taste or hard texture

Even if your bread passes the first two indicators, and then does not taste right, it is better to just throw it away and not take any risks. Health is wealth! 

Similarly, if you leave your bread out in the open for too long, the bread will go stale and turn dry. This is also an indicator that your bread has now gone bad and it is time to throw it away. 


In this brief guide we have answered the question, “is over fermented dough safe to eat?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like what to do with over fermented dough and how to tell if your bread has gone bad. 


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