Slowing Down Fermentation

Most likely ambient temperatures are warmer now that it’s summer here in the northern hemisphere. Your starter and dough can over-ferment easily in hotter weather. Here are some ideas for slowing down your starter and dough:
Things that help slow down a starter are:

  • Keep it cooler
  • Feed it less whole grains and instead use more white flour
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • Use ice water when feeding
  • Try a lower inoculation (less starter to food ratio)
  • Lower the hydration (you would only want to use the last one if you are storing it or using a low hydration motherdough)
  • Use a tightly woven cloth over your starter (secure it with a rubber band) to allow it to breath and prevent heat build up in a closed container*

In warmer weather you should reserve less starter when feeding and feed it more often.


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.To slow down your final dough:

  • Do a shorter autolyse or skip the autolyse
  • Use a pinch of salt when mixing the dough
  • Try adding ice water when making your dough
  • Keep your flour in cold storage
  • Use formulas with a lower inoculation rate (use less starter in the dough)
  • Keep the dough cool (try putting the whole container in the fridge more often)
  • Chill the dough BEFORE shaping and retarding
  • Use your starter when it’s younger, after just a few hours of fermenting (not overly fermented and warm)
  • Try using a cold motherdough or lievito madre for inoculation instead
  • Put a pinch of sea salt in the motherdough or starter
  • Use more white flour and less whole grains
  • Mix and then chill the dough right away, letting it take a few days to ferment before using it


* A sourdough starter culture is anaerobic and doesn’t NEED oxygen to exist, although it likes oxygen just fine. The tightly woven cloth will just allow the heat to escape so it doesn’t build up as much in a closed container. However, it may also evaporate more quickly. 

.Any other ideas for slowing down fermentation? Post your suggestions below.

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Have fun baking everyone, even when it’s hot!



    Teresa L Greenway - Sourdough bread baker, author, teacher, entrepreneur. Join my baking classes at:

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