can i eat my dough?
February 20, 2006 9:12 PM   Subscribe

what will happen to me if i make pizza from old dough?

if i buy pizza dough and then leave it in the fridge for 5 or so days before turning it into pizza, is it still safe to eat? what about if i freeze it, then move it to the fridge for a few days?
posted by purplefiber to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
I don't think freezing it will make it any better. I'm pretty sure it won't hurt you. Cooking it should kill anything bad living in it.
posted by JamesMessick at 9:17 PM on February 20, 2006

inspect it carefully for moldy spots, and be sure to smell it - if it's at all off, toss it out.
posted by heeeraldo at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2006

Response by poster: thanks! pizza's out of the oven, i've had a couple slices and i feel fine :-).
posted by purplefiber at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2006

It's safe. Some recipes call for aging a dough either overnight at room temperature or in a refrigerator. Depends on your yeast situation. If you let it sit too long with commercial dough, it'll expand all over the place and taste sour (we used to throw dough into gutters or vents and leave it, and it'll expand slowly until it takes over wherever it's at). If you use beer dough, it can end up really hard and not rise.
posted by klangklangston at 10:20 PM on February 20, 2006

If you leave it in the fridge, make sure to punch it down every day, at least once. Assuming that it is a yeast dough. repeated risings won't hurt it. If it is going to be that long though, you can freeze yeast doughs for up to several weeks and they will be just fine. You can move it to the fridge the night before you intend to use it. For pizza dough it is best to let it get back up to room temperature for shaping because it doesn't have the same kind of final shaped rise that a bread dough does.

One tip: Once you've shaped it into a flat, let it rest for about ten minutes, then re-stretch it a bit before you top it, because it will shrink back and can make a mess of your toppings otherwise.
posted by monopas at 10:44 PM on February 20, 2006

Also, dough will freeze nicely. Any excess dough can be saved for an other preparation. Just don't freeze things twice.

if it's at all off, toss it out.

Well, it's not that bad, you can still cook it, which will destroy just about anything that could be bothering you if eaten raw. Remember, most open air and non meat related molding/decomposition is not that dangerous and is even used in some food preparation (ever had blue cheese? nato? stinky tofu?)
posted by NewBornHippy at 10:45 PM on February 20, 2006

And just speaking from personal preference, don't freeze the dough after you've cooked it, hoping to make a pizza on a frozen, cooked pizza shell. If you cook fresh ingredients on a frozen, cooked crust, the ingredients don't all cook to 'done' at the same time. And if you cook a pizza on a thawed, cooked crust, the crust will be way overcooked by the time the toppings are cooked.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:42 PM on February 20, 2006

Just to throw this out there for all the people who suggest that "heat will kill all the bad stuff" when we have these threads, it is not necessarily true. Most likely something like bread will not be a problem, but other foods like soups or leftover stews can grow bacteria that produce toxins (like botulism). Heating the food kills the bacteria, but does nothing for the toxins that were already produced. You should be very careful of any food that has had an opportunity to grow a bunch of bad bacterial colonies. There is no way to make that kind of food "good".
posted by qwip at 1:00 AM on February 21, 2006

It'll just accumulate the byproducts of yeast metabolism, which may or may not taste good to you.

As other people have said, this will slow way down or stop if you freeze the dough.
posted by NYCnosh at 1:01 AM on February 21, 2006

Most likely something like bread will not be a problem, but other foods like soups or leftover stews can grow bacteria that produce toxins (like botulism).

Botulism occurs in anaerobic conditions. Unless you can your own goods, it most likely will never affect you. Watch out for canned food though.

but does nothing for the toxins that were already produced.

Not entirely true. Toxins are proteins. Proteins are very sensitive to heat -- for instance, morels can't be eaten raw because of the toxicity of a protein that is destroyed by the cooking heat.
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:17 AM on February 21, 2006

mold? botulism? huh? What about tough crust? You let that dough go too long and the yeast seems to lose its potency and then your crust will be tough.
posted by caddis at 4:52 AM on February 21, 2006

Nobody seems to have yet submitted an informed opinion.

Here goes: Letting dough sit at a cool temperature for some period of time before baking (known as "retarding") is common practice for many baked items, especially pizza. 3 or maybe 4 days in the fridge will only intensify the flavor, allowing yeast to grow nice and slowly.

However, I'd say 5 days might be a bit much. Around this point, you really start to run out of sugars and the yeast get angry. Alcoholic, unpleasantly tangy flavors will emerge. If it smells kinda gross, you probably won't get good crust out of it.

And please don't really "punch down" your dough. You want to preserve the structure of the bubbles that the yeast are developing. If you really want, you can do a "stretch and fold" where you carefully elongate the dough then fold it... but this is unnecessary when retarding at such low temperatures (i.e. in your fridge).
posted by rxrfrx at 4:53 AM on February 21, 2006

Rxrfrx: That was essentially the same thing I said, only I placed it in the context of having worked at pizza places that did large batch processing. I don't know what kind of dough he bought, and there are a lot of kinds of dough. At five days, the dough we made would have grown into a disgusting monster, but that's partly because most commercial doughs made at chain pizzarias have more sugar than those that you'd buy at, say, Whole Foods. It depends on the yeast and on the sugar content. Pizza made with beer as the yeasting agent has to be used within a few hours of mixing, otherwise it ends up really hard. I've bought pizza dough before from Trader Joes that was happy to spend over a week in the fridge. (We also don't know if the package was sealed). And when I make it from scratch, I leave it for a day or two in the fridge, but not more, because the flavor's best.
posted by klangklangston at 8:01 AM on February 21, 2006

I've noticed that it's easier to do a nice thin crust if the dough is cold, whether from a recent defrost or some time in the fridge. This is with my own from-scratch dough. Obviously too late for purplefiber, but I find it can be a nice change sometimes.
posted by lackutrol at 10:25 AM on February 21, 2006

klangklangston: sorry! missed your post. i was groggy.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:18 AM on February 21, 2006

Next time freeze it when you buy it, and thaw it out the day you're going to use it. I usually pop it in the microwave for a minute just out of the freezer to speed things along, then let it rise on the counter for two or three hours.
posted by ook at 10:51 PM on February 21, 2006

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