Why does my baking bread smell like vinegar?

In this brief guide we will answer the question, “why does my baking bread smell like vinegar?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like what to do about the smell and how to tell if your bread has gone bad?

Why does my baking bread smell like vinegar?

Your baking bread smells like vinegar primarily because of one reason – over fermentation. Such bread smells like vinegar when final fermentation or proofing occurs at high temperatures or goes on for a long period of time. It is due to the acids produced by the yeast during the process. 

Bread is a fermented product, therefore baking it under controlled conditions is needed. The characteristic vinegar smell is when the temperature is high, and you leave the bread for a long period of time during the proofing process. High temperature promotes the fermentation process by the yeast, causing your dough to over ferment and give off a vinegar smell. 

Depending on the intensity of smell, you may or may not be able to eat a bread that smells like vinegar, simply because it will taste off. However, an over fermented bread is safe to eat before 15 hours in the pantry when freshly baked. 

This short time is because of the fermentation process. Normally, when the bread is given ideal proofing time, the fermentation process is restricted by providing it less temperature. In this case, we have already allowed too much microbial activity(or yeast activity) which, if allowed to act more, will only create problems for us when the product is ready to use.

Is it safe to eat bread that smells like Vinegar? 

If your bread is homemade and you’re sure about the ingredients, then it is perfectly safe to consume such a loaf. Like mentioned earlier, it is only a matter of yeast over fermentation. 

Many people refer to this smell like that of a nail polish remover, beer, vinegar, or alcohol. No matter what you might sense, it is mostly the yeast that is the main culprit. You should know that your bread is not undercooked, and it is safe to consume. However, the taste or the aroma may seem off owing to the fermentation process. 

How to get rid of the smell?

Well, you can try adding less yeast and reproofing the dough, but I’m not sure if it will work or not. Ideally, it should work when the quantity of yest is not too much. If you want to avoid the smell in the next load of bread that you bake, then it is pretty simple – increase proofing time and decrease the temperature. 

On the other hand, if you want to get rid of the smell in the load that you just baked, you literally need to reverse the fermentation process. A technique that I personally think will work is you increase other ingredients like flour, water, and sugar the moment you realize your bread has been overproofed. Because once you have baked it, it is pretty much impossible to get rid of the smell in my opinion. 

You can try other recipes with it, that might make the smell go away. 

Other FAQs about Bread which you may be interested in.

Why does my sourdough bread smell like alcohol?

How to tell if your bread has gone bad? 

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. 

No, you might not want to discard it when there is any smell that matches that of an alcohol or a similar substance, because this is just a result of fermentation. We are talking about a characteristic pungent or a stale smell. This type of smell indicates that mould growth has started to take place. This is just one step before you start to see visible mold growth on the bread.

  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 addressed the question, “Why does my baking bread smell like vinegar?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like what to do about the smell and how to tell if your bread has gone bad?





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