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I was told by a friend that, when making pizza dough, I should add the salt at a later stage than the yeast, because it might disturbe the yeast from doing its thing...

I apologize for not having anymore concrete information, I just wanted to check this...

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Thank you for this question! I've always wondered how salting dough doesn't kill the yeast – Rikon Aug 17 '11 at 1:58
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Salt in high concentrations can kill yeast yes. So can sugar, though salt is so much better at it. You see both are hygroscopic, meaning that they suck water out of stuff. This induces osmotic stress to the yeast cells leading eventually to cell breakdown (aka death).

On lower concentrations salt will throttle the yeast fermentation producing a richer and more uniform crumb.

Adding the salt early or later in the process will have a big effect on your dough, but that won't be because of the way it messes up with the yeast. Salt is supposed to coagulate gluten proteins, in a sense it "stiffens" the dough. On various situations this should happen late in the process (e.g. see the "Delayed salt method" used for sourdoughs).

For pizza dough I'd add the salt early.

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I simply thought salt will kill yeast but you have come out with a better explanation, didn't know that sugar can also kill yeast, I usually add salt while I knead the dough that too not too much – Kumar Aug 17 '11 at 9:01
I think I've seen the following experiment somewhere: take a cube of fresh yeast. Divide in half into separate containers. Add 1 Tbsp salt to one half and 1 Tbsp salt to the other. Observe how both mixes will progressively get watery eventually killing all yeast. Salt should be done with its yeast significantly faster. – charisis Aug 17 '11 at 11:25
something tells me you want to edit the above charisis - I'm thinking you mean 1Tbsp sugar in one of them? – Bruce Aug 17 '11 at 12:26
I've heard that if all your salt hits all your yeast (i. e. if one or the other isn't properly mixed during adding the food), it will reduce your yeast's activity significantly enough that it will hurt pizza dough. I learned this from a chef in a pizza making class. So when adding them to dough make sure you've mixed the first one in before adding the second. – justkt Aug 17 '11 at 20:42
Oops, that should read 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp sugar, no experiment otherwise. Thanks @Bruce – charisis Aug 18 '11 at 16:47

Salt doesn't kill yeast entirely, unless there is too much of it, but it does slow down its growth rate. So adding the salt later would allow the dough to rise more.

In the case of pizza dough it probably doesn't matter all that much, and if you find that it doesn't rise enough, you can also leave more time for it to rise.

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