11 Tell Tale Signs: How To Tell If Sourdough Bread Is Bad

Want to know the 11 tell tale signs on how to tell if sourdough bread is bad? From visible mold to signs that you just cannot see, these are the top 11 signs you NEED to know about.

how to tell if sourdough bread is bad

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As a baker and breadlover myself, I am constantly looking out for these signs on how to tell if sourdough bread is bad. These signs are COMMON and everyone should be watching out for these signs.

If you have ever wondered about bad sourdough bread, does sourdough bread spoil easily, or when should you not eat sourdough bread, then this guide is for you. These are 11 signs that will guarantee you know when sourdough bread is bad. You will be a PRO after reading this complete guide.

This post is all about how to tell if sourdough bread is bad.

The 11 Signs How To Tell Sourdough Bread Is Bad

how long does sourdough bread last

1. Stale Bread

A sure way to know that your homemade sourdough loaf has gone bad is if it is stale. You will know that your bread is stale if it is rock-hard and/or dry. Bread that has become hard or dry is usually an indicator that it is old. Usually, this staling process happens if the bread is left out and air makes it hard. It also happens if the bread is a couple of days old and not fresh anymore.

GOOD NEWS! If your bread loaf has gone stale, it is still safe to eat. If it is stale and there is no off smell or mold, you can still eat the bread. There are many recipes that involve stale bread. Some recipe ideas for stale sourdough bread:

  • French Toast: Stale bread is the BEST bread for French toast. I make French toast multiple times a month. If my bread goes stale, I usually save it to make French toast.
  • Sourdough Croutons: Sourdough croutons are delicious! The BEST thing about this recipe is that no one will know the bread was stale.
  • Bread Crumbs: Add Italian seasoning and you will have Italian bread crumbs.

A way to prevent your homemade sourdough loaf from going stale is by storing it in a plastic bag. Make sure it is in an airtight container. A brown paper bag can lead to the bread going stale. A bread box can also encourage the staling process. 

2. The Bread Has Visible Mold

If your bread is growing mold, ew! Stay FAR away from moldy sourdough bread. Any type of mold growing on your bread, whether it is on the crust or inside the bread, should be taken seriously. 

Mold growth on bread can be many colors! The mold growth can be pink, orange, green, black, and even white. It can look fuzzy and can grow in splotches. Once you see any type of mold growth, it is best to throw the entire loaf away into the trash can. 

You should NOT simply discard moldy slices. If there are mold spores on one slice of bread or one area, that means there is mold on the entire loaf. 

moldy sourdough bread

3. Your Own Sourdough Starter Has Mold

Ah, the battle against mold. This sign on how to tell if sourdough bread is bad is a heartbreaking one. Once your own sourdough starter has mold, it’s time to throw it away into the trash. (Trust me, I am crying with you).

No, you simply cannot scoop out the visible mold and save the rest of your starter. As stated, once you see ANY type of mold growth, the entire starter is contaminated with mold and should not be used anymore. 

Usually, mold growth is seen on top of your starter. You might see pink or orange streaks on the surface of your starter. That is mold growth! 

Any type of starter can develop mold. Whether the starter is made with bread flour or all purpose flour, you need to be careful of mold. A mature starter can grow mold. However, a new starter is more likely to develop mold. So, if you have a new sourdough starter, it is best to feed it regularly and keep an eye out for it.

4. Does The Bread Have An Unpleasant Smell?

If the bread has an unpleasant smell, it is time to throw it out. Any bad smells can indicate that the bread is not safe to eat anymore. Bad bread usually has a sour smell to it. Sourdough bread does not typically have an unpleasant sour smell. 

5. There Are White Spots On The Bread

This is a tricky sign to detect. You might need to inspect your homemade sourdough bread closer. If there are white spots on the bread, then it could be mold! On the other hand, the white spots can also be white flour.

When baking sourdough, bakers cover the surface of the loaf with flour to help prevent the loaf from sticking. This flour remains on the outside of the loaf around the crust. This flour, no matter the type of flour, is safe to consume. However, white spots can also indicate mold.

Always look up close at the white spots on the bread. You will be able to tell whether it is mold or simply fresh flour used during the baking process. White mold on sourdough bread means you need to throw the entire loaf away.

white mold on sourdough bread

6. You can see a little or very much water in the sealed container of the bread

Did you put your fresh bread into a plastic bag or plastic wrap after you baked it? Can you see any water droplets on the plastic bag? If so, this is another sign that your sourdough bread could be bad!

If you place your fresh bread into a plastic bag while it is still warm out of the oven, your delicious bread can go bad. This action decreases the shelf life of sourdough bread. The water can lead to your loaf of sourdough bread to become soggy! Even though you can still eat soggy sourdough bread, it does not taste great. However, soggy bread is the least of your worries. The water can turn your fresh bread into moldy bread! 

If the bread is left at room temperature, the water in the plastic bag can encourage mold growth, leading to molding sourdough bread.

The BEST way to store your fresh homemade sourdough bread is to let it cool down to room temperature before placing it into a plastic bag.

7. The homemade sourdough bread has an unpleasant taste

Does your bread taste bad? If so, that unpleasant taste could be an indicator that your sourdough bread loaf has gone bad. Sometimes, you might not be able to smell anything pungent. The off smell might be so minimal that your nose does not pick up on the scent. However, your taste buds will NEVER lie to you. 

If sourdough bread is bad, then eating it will not be a pleasant experience!!! It is better to throw it away than risk getting sick. No matter how much butter or jam you put on a slice of bad bread, bad-tasting bread is still bad bread. 

8. Your Sourdough Loaf is Older than Five Days

As a general rule, sourdough bread is only good for up to five days. After five days, the chance of mold or stale bread goes up. 

Sourdough bread is different from other types of bread that you buy at the grocery store. The breads you see in plastic bags in the aisle usually are packed with preservatives. Those preservatives help those breads have a longer shelf life. 

However, traditional homemade sourdough bread does NOT have the same preservatives. A loaf of sourdough bread consists of three main ingredients: a mixture of flour, water, and salt. Unlike regular bread, there are ZERO preservatives in an authentic loaf of sourdough bread.

Because there are no preservatives in sourdough bread, the shelf life is a couple of days. 

Have any delicious sourdough bread you want to save?

Read THIS POST on the complete guide on how to store sourdough bread.

does sourdough bread go bad

9. Freezer Time of Over Three Months

Did you freeze any sourdough bread? Whether it be a slice or a full loaf, bread can only be frozen for up to three months. 

Technically, you CAN eat bread that has been frozen for years. However, it probably will not taste the best. Extended freezer time can lead to freezer burn. When freezer burn forms, the taste of sourdough bread will not be yummy. The freezer-burned bread will be somewhat tasteless. The texture of the bread will also be off. 

I freeze my homemade sourdough bread all the time. If I plan on eating the bread within the next week, I usually slice the loaf and place it into a heavy-duty freezer bag. I use one-gallon Ziplock bags.

If I don’t plan on eating my homemade loaf for longer than one week, I use a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer Machine. I place my entire loaf into a plastic freezer wrap bag, then I use the machine to suck out all the air. This makes it so that my sourdough loaf can stay in the freezer for over a month. It also lowers the risk of freezer burn.

10. Bread Was Stored At Room Temperature

This tell tale sign might be CONFUSING!!! However, if your bread is stored at room temperature, you should definitely inspect it. This could be the main reason why sourdough bread goes bad. 

I store my sourdough bread at room temperature all the time. Whenever I bake fresh sourdough bread, I let it sit at room temperature for four to six hours. Afterward, I place my sourdough bread loaf in a plastic bag and let it sit at room temperature for a day or two. 

However, storing a loaf of sourdough bread at room temperature can definitely shorten the shelf life of sourdough bread. The longer a loaf is stored at room temperature, the higher the chance of developing mold. 

ONLY store your loaf at room temperature if you plan on eating it within three days. If you don’t plan on eating it within three days, store your loaf in the freezer. The freezer has the right temperature to store your bread.

11. The Bread is past its expiration date

Did you buy your sourdough bread from the grocery store? Did you buy your sourdough bread from a local bakery? If the bread is past its expiration date, it is best to throw it out.

Bakeries and grocery stores place an expiration date on the food packaging of every item. Check the outside of the plastic bag or brown paper bag for an expiration date. The expiration date is a good tell tale sign if your bread is old. Old bread is usually not good bread.

How Can You Tell If Sourdough Bread Is Good?

You can tell if sourdough bread is good by the look, smell, and taste of it. If the sourdough bread has ANY type of mold growth on the surface of the bread, it should be thrown away. Mold is usually orange, pink, green, black, or white. It cannot be salvaged.

If the bread has an unpleasant sour smell, it should be thrown away. 

Last but not least, if the sourdough bread tastes bad, it should be thrown away. It cannot be salvaged. 

How Long Does Sourdough Bread Last?

Sourdough bread lasts for up to 3-5 days. Traditional sourdough bread has no preservatives. Because there are no preservatives, the shelf life of sourdough bread is shorter than the type of bread you can buy at the grocery store.

What Does Bad Sourdough bread smell like?

Bad sourdough bread does not always have a bad smell to it. You can tell if sourdough bread is bad because it will be stale and will have visible mold growth to it. If it does smell bad, the sourdough bread will not smell like the normal bread smell. It can smell extra sour. The smell will repulse any one! If sourdough bread smells bad, then you should definitely toss it into the garbage can.

This post was all about how to tell if sourdough bread is bad.

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