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|