Pizza aficionados and novices agree: the crust is the most important part of the pie. A thin crust’s crunch or a deep dish’s satisfying chew is rewarding and memorable when pizza is prepared with fresh crusts and dough.
Not sure if the crusts and dough on your shelf or in your freezer are in peak, customer-pleasing season? Wondering how long pizza dough lasts? Here are some tips to keep guesswork low and quality high.
Are The Crusts and Dough Good to Go?
Pizza crusts and dough have physical “tells” which let you know they’re past their prime and could underperform:
- A sour smell
- Diminished texture
- An exceptionally dry feel and appearance
- A general gray color or flecks of gray that denote dead yeast activators, failed cell structure, and/or freezer burn
Numbers Don’t Lie
The easiest way to stay on top of crust and dough freshness is to keep an eye on the calendar. We recommend these guidelines for gauging maximum useful life:
- Live dough products are best within 120 days from the date of manufacture (180 days maximum)
- Par-baked products are at ideal freshness within 180 days from the date of manufacture (365 days maximum)
- Dough balls should be used within 90 days frozen (180 days maximum), and within 2 to 4 days if refrigerated
One final note about timing: Should you choose to store crusts and dough for their respective maximum useful lifespans, there is no food safety risk provided you use proper procedures to prepare pies. However, quality will likely suffer.
Proofing Impacts Quality
Carefully managing your inventory of pizza crusts and dough to ensure top quality pies can wind up being an effort in futility if you don't pay attention to proofing.
While par-baked and live dough crusts need no proofing, pre-made dough balls require fermentation — the process whereby yeast digests sugar and produces carbon dioxide gas in the dough — to increase volume and workability.
Like freshness, timing is everything when it comes to the perfect proof, and it's dictated by the dough ball lifecycle. Adhering to a 48-72 hour proofing "sweet spot" and following these best practices will ensure maximum proofing, delicious outcomes, and really happy customers.
Your customers deserve fresh, high-quality pizza crusts, and they want the signature taste that only your pizzeria can deliver. Check out our Pizza Dough and Crust Types Quick Reference Guide to see which dough balls are best for your operation.