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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.

See my online sourdough baking courses here: Online Sourdough Baking Classes

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


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  1. MaraMara
    July 7, 2017    

    When the thermostat on my kitchen oven broke, I bought an electric oven large enough to bake bread. It’s light to carry and can be put on the screened in front porch for baking bread or anything else even in the hottest weather without heating up the house. The old broken oven is great for pan storage and the burners still work fine for regular cooking.

  2. JeannineJeannine
    July 7, 2017    

    I pay attention to the weather, finding the coolest day of the week and bake up a triple batch of bread on that day. One or two days before I bake, I bulk up my starter so it’s active, I work the dough and get it ready for proofing in the refrigerator overnight, then open up the windows and perhaps the doors in the morning and bake one right after the other, allowing 1 hour on the counter to come up to temp, and 10 minutes after removing a loaf from the oven to allow the Dutch Oven to get back up to temperature. I cut my loaves in half, and bag up for the freezer after they have cooled. It only takes a little bit more time do the stretch and folds with enough flour, starter and water for 3 batches of dough, and a little more time to bake on the one day, but it’s a summertime win.

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