Whether homemade or store-bought, pizza dough has a limited lifespan.
After all, the dough is a living thing!
But how do you tell if your pizza dough is off? This knowledge can make or break your family pizza party night, and we all know homemade pizza tastes SO much better than a delivery-guy pizza.
There are several easy-to-remember ways to tell if your homemade or store-bought pizza dough is bad:
- It’s look.
- It’s smell
- It’s feel
Let’s suss this out and help you know if your pizza dough has gone bad.
Ways to tell if your pizza dough has gone off.
Here are three easy ways to tell if your pizza dough is bad: It looks funny, smells funny, and feels funny.
Let’s go into more detail about these three ways:
1) It’s looks:
When the pizza dough is fresh, it has a light cream or beige color. It may have tiny air bubbles; otherwise, it is smooth.
If the dough has gray flecks or signs of noticeable mold, then it should be discarded.
2) It smells funny:
When pizza dough goes bad, it emits a very sour smell. This smell is due to the alcohol produced as a byproduct of the fermentation process in the dough.
A slight sour smell doesn’t necessarily mean the dough is bad; in fact, this slight sour smell is what you desire in your dough that can produce a delicious pizza.
However, suppose it smells rancid or very sour and instantly hits your nostril. In that case, the taste will be very acidic and off-putting.
By this time, your dough will be blown out and full of gas pockets, making it un-stretchable.
Then at this point, it’s best to discard it.
3) It feels funny:
Pizza dough should feel moist, smooth, and supple. It will also be sticky (use flour to help prevent your dough from sticking to everything). If the dough has gone bad, it may feel dry, flaky, and have a sort of orange-peel texture.
Dry, flaky dough may not have to discard, and it won’t make you sick. However, it probably won’t rise well and maybe tough and chewy.
You can try to rehydrate the dough by applying water. Then leave it on a countertop covered with a towel for about 30 minutes.
Is fermented pizza dough bad?
The fermentation process is vital for pizza dough. This process is because pizza dough contains yeast, a living microorganism.
Yeast is what causes dough of any kind to rise when baked. The fermentation process occurs when the yeast digests sugars in the dough and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as byproducts.
The carbon dioxide will create small air pockets in the dough (think of a fizzy, carbonated drink), which causes the dough to rise.
My bag of store-bought pizza dough is all puffy! Does that mean the dough is bad?
No, that means the yeast is happily chugging away!
As mentioned, yeast produces carbon dioxide gas as a byproduct. Therefore, when enclosed in a plastic bag, the bag will inflate due to the trapped gas. To minimize this, you can loosen the knot in the bag when you get home before putting it in the fridge.
Doing this will allow some of the trapped gas to escape.
How long will my pizza dough last?
Pizza dough will last a certain amount of time depending on two variables:
How it’s stored, and the amount of yeast in the dough. To preserve your dough and make it last longer.
1) How it’s stored:
Higher temperatures cause the fermentation process to speed up, and lower temperatures slow it down.
In other words, the dough kept in the fridge will last longer than dough kept at room temperature.
Pizza dough at room temperature will only last 4 to 24 hours, 36hrs at a push, whereas pizza dough kept in the freezer can last 2 to 3 months.
The dough kept in the refrigerator will last 2 to 5days.
Top Tip: Keep your dough in the fridge and wait for 2 to 3 days before using it. This process is called “cold fermentation” and helps make a great pizza crust.
Most pizza chefs use this method before baking their pizzas to enrich the flavor and texture of their pizza.
Ensure you take it out approx 4hrs before you bake your pizza!
2) The amount of yeast and sugar in the dough:
The more yeast and sugar in pizza dough, the quicker the fermentation process.
The quantity of yeast is critical. Keep your proofing parameters consistent; the temperature (refrigerated or room proofed), Dough amount, and fermentation time.
By doing this, you will, with practice, know exactly how much yeast to add for it to peak at the approx time you wish to make your pizza.
If you would like your dough to last longer, don’t add sugar. There are many recipes for homemade pizza dough that don’t require sugar (The flour in the dough contains sugars that will keep yeast happy).
My store-bought dough is past its expiration date. Can I still use it?
For the most part, expiration dates don’t mean the food is inedible past the stated date.
It just means the manufacturer considers the time before the date is when the food is at its best quality and texture.
By all means, you can use the pizza dough after the expiration date. Just use our three simple tips above to make sure it’s good to go!
Store your pizza dough in the fridge or at room temperature. Practice determining the yeast quantity needed.
When ready to go, give it a quick check using the three criteria: it looks good, smells good, and feels good?
If the answer is yes to all three questions, you are good to go for a delicious pizza!