Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Rummaging through our basement refrigerator (inherited from my late in-laws and mostly used for retarding my doughs), I rediscovered a bag with whole grain pita dough.

After bulk fermentation I had pre-shaped the dough (made with instant yeast) into balls, placed those, individually wrapped, in a ZipLock bag, and then in the freezer.

The date on the bag was 9 months ago!

My first impulse was, of course, to throw those snow-encrusted (and suspiciously dark looking) packages into the trash. But then my curiosity and scientific instinct won, and I decided to give the Ötzi-Pitas a chance, and find out whether there was any life left in them - after all this time.

Whole grain pitas made with fresh dough
I placed them in a warm spot in the kitchen, and, while baking my usual breads for sale, checked now and then on them.

After 3 hours nothing had changed. Again I was tempted to end their misery, but decided to wait a little longer.

Fife hours passed - it appeared as if the dough balls had grown a tiny bit.

Six hours, seven, eight - very slooowly more growth.

After 10 hours the rolls were about the size they normally are, when I shaped and proofed them for 60 minutes (after their overnight stay in the fridge.)

Gescheckte Ötzi-Pitas: geschmacklich einwandfrei
I started rolling them out, the dough now reacted as elastic as a fresh one, but the surface of the pitas was darker, and somewhat mottled.

In the oven the defrosted pitas did not swell with a few large bubbles that merge before puffing like a balloon.

Instead, they showed many smaller bubbles that didn't quite manage to join into one large gas pocket.

The Ötzi-Pitas didn't look as nice as fresh ones, but otherwise performed amazingly well. And their taste was not different than fresh ones!

Facit: if you don't give up, and are patient enough to wait, the surviving, more frost resistant yeast cells are still able to do their job, albeit very slooooowly.

Discovery site basement freezer


  1. Your freezer looks so nice and empty. Envious ;) Mine is always cramped ...

  2. Ralph, you should see the regular one in the kitchen, it's crammed!
    Here I keep only things like frozen cooked rice (for multigrain breads), some frozen baking ingredients and some dinner leftovers.

  3. I once read at Pit's forum that freezing sourdough is not the ideal method because the bacteria would not survive easily in the freezer and the structure of them would crystallize and many would die. But reading from your experience, not all hope is gone. Now the last question that remains is: If we leave Oetzi in a warm place of the lab he is in right now, would he awake to a new live, too?

    1. I bet some life could come out of him - you would know it when you smell it :)

  4. Before the discovery of my "ever-lasting" pizza dough I always made a batch out of 1,25 kg flour and froze 2/3, that worked out very well.
    But as my freezer is always overflowing these days... and I have my friend Kenwood in the kitchen I do it fresh.

    1. I usually freeze one half of the loaves I bake, because we are only two, and the freezer in the kitchen is always overflowing. When it gets too much, and breads tumble out, soon as you open the freezer dough, I have to stop trying new breads for a while and eat the frozen ones down. I have your pizza dough in my recipe, and will try it soon (with the smiling tomato sauce!)