Can a dough of only flour and water stay usable indefinitely (as in between a few days and a few weeks) when stored covered at room temperature?

I made a batch of dough last week and ended up with a good portion of it unused. Today, I finally managed to finish it off by turning it into flatbread. Having the dough on hand throughout the week was convenient, but is there anything that I should watch out for in terms of food safety or taste?

2 Answers 2


A mixture of flour and water at room temperature is a very hospitable growth medium for many bacteria, yeasts, and molds; and indefinitely is a long time.... Even if you are extremely vigilant when it comes to kitchen hygiene, the mixture will eventually start to grow some form of microbes. This process could take a week or more to become obvious.

If you use the batch up within a week or so it is unlikely to cause any problems. For longer storage you should refrigerate the dough and/or add salt (in the proportional amount you would use for bread). If it develops an off smell or visible mold you are better off throwing it away.

Keep in mind that hydrating flour, especially whole grain flours, activates amylase enzymes that break down starches into simple sugars. This process, called autolysis, improves browning and flavor, but if allowed to go on too long it leads to a gummy crumb or poor overall structure.


Sure you can keep it indefinitely, this is how bread was made before commercial prepackaged yeast became available in the 19th century.

Your dough will turn into sourdough. It can under some circumstances grow nontasty bacteria or mold, but as long as you don't see any mold and it doesn't stink after some time (if it stinks within the first 3 days it's probably still OK, the good bacteria need longer to establish and crowd out the stinky ones), then you can use it.

The taste will be different from normal dough, your bread will taste like sourdough bread, because you have made sourdough and not fresh dough.

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