Cold Fermentation - how fast from 80 to 35

I’m wondering what the ideal time frame is to get your finished dough temp ( 75-80) down to cold fermentation temps of 35-36. I’m sizing up a walk in and refrigeration system and will be bulk loading up to 400 lbs of balls on sheet trays in racks during a loading cycle. The best I can do is get the temps from my finished 80 to 35 in 3 hours using a higher performance refrigeration system.

Ferment cycle is 48 hours at .375 IDY

I’m wondering what the ideal timeframe might be or what people normally shoot for?


Actually, there is no “ideal” time except to say that one should strive to accomplish stabilizing the dough reasonably fast but with great consistency. Due to the insulating properties of the dough you can only extract BTUs from the dough so fast using cold air. With that said, remember, the larger the dough ball the longer it will take to drop the temperature to 45F. (internal temperature). The heavier dough balls weighing in at around 22-ounces will typically require about 3-hours to accomplish this while dough balls in the 12 to 14-ounce range typically require around 2-hours. These numbers are based on using commercial stacking dough boxes but you mentioned using sheet pans and racks so your actual times will most likely be a bit less. A refrigeration engineer, given the individual dough ball weight, number of dough balls, dough density, rack weight, air temperature, airflow and pan weight should be able to provide you with an estimate of time needed. I think if it were me, I’d just size it for a 2.5-hour cool down period. Make sure you have plastic strip curtains over the doors and plan to bag the dough trays (sheet pans) while in the cooler. Your cooler temperature at 35F is lower than what most use, more typically it’s in the 36 to 38F range. In the end, you will need to determine the exact time needed to achieve the target internal temperature range of 43 to 45F. Once it reaches that point it’s time to go into the cooler and begin bagging the dough and your 48-hour clock begins ticking. This is all predated on the assumption that you will remove the dough balls from the cooler after at least 48-hours, allow them to temper AT room temperature until they reach an average internal temperature of 50F before you begin opening them into skins, if you are planning on using different dough management parameters the temperatures may need to be adjusted slightly to better accommodate your dough management procedure.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank you Tom appreciate the information. Is 43-45 the temp at which yeast production is slowing? Also, any harm in bagging after balling and inserting the tray plus balls plus bagged into the cooler - maybe a concern of condensation?


43 to 45F is the target temperature range that you want to achieve as it is the temperature at which yeast fermentation is vastly slowed, not stopped, just slowed down considerably allowing the dough to be held for several days without getting excessive fermentation.
If you are asking if it is ok to tray the dough balls, place a bag over the dough ball and then take it to the cooler, the answer is “this is not a good idea” The reason for this is because of all the dead air space in that bag surrounding the dough balls, this will not allow for rapid or consistent cooling of the dough balls and the condensation issue will result in wet, sticky dough balls when you go to use them, which can also result in excessive bubbling of the dough during baking. Much better to allow the dough balls to cool uncovered/un-bagged for a couple of hours and then bag the sheet pan with the dough balls. If you don’t want to hang around the shop waiting to bag the sheet pan(s) you will need to bag each dough ball individually, then you can go home as soon as the last of the dough balls go into the cooler.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank you Tom! Always the best advise…