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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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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
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    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
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    Oops, that should read 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp sugar, no experiment otherwise. Thanks @Bruce – charisis Aug 18 '11 at 16:47
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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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Given the amount of salt used in bread, the answer is no according to The Bread Bakers Guild of America:

Most scientists believe that at 2% of the flour weight or less, salt alone does not significantly alter either the yeast’s gassing power or the bacteria’s acid production. A study measuring the gas production in a fermenting dough has shown that gas production is retarded by only about 9% in a dough containing 1.5% salt (based on the flour weight).

https://www.cargill.com/salt-in-perspective/salt-in-bread-dough

Greg Blonder, a Professor of Design and Product Engineering at Boston University, carried out experiments to see how salt affect yeast, with some nice pictures to show the results:

https://genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/saltyeast.html

Summary of the experiments: 1) salt at 3% by weight does not kill yeast and does not change the effectiveness of co2 production by the yeast. 2) Salt does strength the gluten so the dough will rise less (which is probably why many believe that salt retards yeast). 3) Dissolving salt in water prior to mixing helps strength the gluten more than a later dry mix (again, probably why some people though that early mixing damaged/killed/retarded the yeast)

I assume the experiments were carried out using commercial dry yeast, so the result may or may not apply to wild yeast in sourdough starters.

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9:15 am: I thought I would add my yeast to the liquid prior to mixing in the flour, etc. I added the olive oil, agave, and 2 t.SALT to the 3 cups warm water not knowing that the salt might prove to kill the yeast. I had a feeling though, so I checked. Sure enough I obviously goofed big time. Well my dough is hopefully rising now, so we'll see. 9:32 am ... well, it's rising, but maybe a little slower than usual. Hopefully another 15 minutes or so will tell the tale. 9:50 am: It has doubled and is now baking and looks beautiful! Guess I lucked out! Maybe the ratio of salt to water was mild enough so as not to kill the yeast.

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