bulk fermentation
Over-fermented, under-proofed?

Over-fermented, under-fermented, over-proofed, under-proofed? When is one done and when does the other start and ends? I have joined some Facebook groups on sourdough baking and am getting inundated with pics of open loaves and requests for comments on how good or bad a home baker’s bake was. Over-fermented, over-proofed, under-fermented, under-proofed? What do over- and under-yadi-yadi-ya actually mean?

I sent that question to Tom Cucuzza at The Sourdough Journey, and here is his succinct answer:

“This question comes up from time to time.  The terms are confusing.  

Over and underproofing” is an assessment of the total fermentation results of the loaf.  From the time the starter is added until it dies off in the oven.

I call that the “fermentation chain,” which includes 1) Fermentolyse (if you do it), 2) bulk fermentation, 3) fermentation during shaping, 4) final proofing (countertop or fridge), and the final fermentation that happens in the first 15 or so minutes in the oven before the yeast dies off. 

The accumulated effect of these steps results in “over or under-proofing.”  Which is better described as “over or under-fermented.” But “proofing” is the collective term referring to the result of all of those steps.” 

Thanks, Tom!  


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