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Author Topic: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??  (Read 261 times)

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Offline pizzainthe6ix

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Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« on: May 15, 2019, 10:01:04 PM »
I have made quite a bit of dough in the last few weeks while I work on some RT proofing.  I have been putting them in my proofing box on a metal cooking sheet.  I was not happy with using cling wrap and the cooking sheet so I went back to my boxes and left them on the counter.

I put a thermometer with humidity meter in my proofing box and again tonite in the plastic boxes.  The humidity is almost 20% higher in the boxes??  How is this possible?  I used to get tons of condensation inside my boxes when putting them in the fridge....could this have been causing that as well?

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2019, 10:19:51 PM »
The increase in relative humidity (RH) that you are seeing is coming from your dough as it is giving up moisture to the warm air surrounding the dough balls. When you put the dough in the fridge you cooled the box as well as the air in the box but the dough balls were warmer than the air so the moisture given up by the dough condensed on the inside of the box. The air will ultimately stabilize when the RH reaches about 85 to 87%. Remember, anytime the surrounding air temperature is cooler than the dough temperature you are going to get some condensation to a greater or lessor extent.
This is why we always want to cross-stack/or leave the boxes open for a period of time when using dough boxes in the cooler/fridge as it reduces/eliminates the condensation problem.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline pizzainthe6ix

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2019, 10:23:54 PM »
The increase in relative humidity (RH) that you are seeing is coming from your dough as it is giving up moisture to the warm air surrounding the dough balls. When you put the dough in the fridge you cooled the box as well as the air in the box but the dough balls were warmer than the air so the moisture given up by the dough condensed on the inside of the box. The air will ultimately stabilize when the RH reaches about 85 to 87%. Remember, anytime the surrounding air temperature is cooler than the dough temperature you are going to get some condensation to a greater or lessor extent.
This is why we always want to cross-stack/or leave the boxes open for a period of time when using dough boxes in the cooler/fridge as it reduces/eliminates the condensation problem.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
Ok, thank you for the quick reply!  I am assuming because I put my thermometer inside the box but the dough was covered by cling wrap, the warm air from the dough did not escape into the box

Because this is a single box and not cross-stacked, should I have cross-stacked to let the dough cool down to RT before covering?  How will the humidity impact rise/overall dough?

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2019, 01:48:00 AM »
I'm sorry but I don't understand "the warm air from the dough did not escape into the box". Cling wrap will allow for transmission of moisture. Just wrap something in it and place it in the freezer for a couple of months.
I don't know what your finished dough temperature was so I cannot comment but it seems to me that it might be easier to just target your finished dough temperature to be the same as the room temperature, but do keep in mind that due to the heat of metabolism the dough is warming at the rate of approximately 1F per hour which can also lead to increased humidity (warm air holds more moisture than colder air). With a RH of about 75% the dough is usually pretty easy to handle but above that things begin to get a bit dicey.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline pizzainthe6ix

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2019, 08:28:51 AM »
I'm sorry but I don't understand "the warm air from the dough did not escape into the box". Cling wrap will allow for transmission of moisture. Just wrap something in it and place it in the freezer for a couple of months.
I don't know what your finished dough temperature was so I cannot comment but it seems to me that it might be easier to just target your finished dough temperature to be the same as the room temperature, but do keep in mind that due to the heat of metabolism the dough is warming at the rate of approximately 1F per hour which can also lead to increased humidity (warm air holds more moisture than colder air). With a RH of about 75% the dough is usually pretty easy to handle but above that things begin to get a bit dicey.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
Hi Tom,
let me clarify my earlier statement.  Finished dough temp was 77F today and previously it was 75-76F.

Tonite, with a rise in humidity almost 2x, I placed the dough balls in my plastic dough boxes and left them on the counter.  RT in all scenarios was 21C

Previously, the dough balls were on a cooking sheet covered by cling wrap and placed inside my proofing box.  The thermometer was inside the proofing box and read 21C and 35% Humidity.

Was the humidity in the proofing box considerably lower than when the dough balls were in the dough trays simply because the heat could not escape the cling wrap in my previous scenario and enter the proofing box compared to just having dough balls in a plastic container.

After your first reply last night, I cross-stacked my box for 10min to let the dough balls cool down to RT (70F).  I put the lid back on and this morning the dough balls were 70F but the humidity in my dough boxes was higher, at 85%.

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Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2019, 10:51:37 AM »
Heat can very easily pass through cling wrap as it is a very poor insulator as insulators go.
Like I said previously, the environment will pretty well stabilize at about 85% R.H. without ant apparent condensation, now, if you were to place that box into a cooler, as the walls of the box get colder the moisture in the box will begin to condense on the colder surface of the box walls and eventually drip onto the dough balls creating a wet, sticky mess at the time of opening them into skins.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline pizzainthe6ix

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2019, 11:31:04 AM »
Heat can very easily pass through cling wrap as it is a very poor insulator as insulators go.
Like I said previously, the environment will pretty well stabilize at about 85% R.H. without ant apparent condensation, now, if you were to place that box into a cooler, as the walls of the box get colder the moisture in the box will begin to condense on the colder surface of the box walls and eventually drip onto the dough balls creating a wet, sticky mess at the time of opening them into skins.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
So if the heat will pass through the cling wrap, and there was only a 2* difference in final dough temperature, the humidity in the house is the same, etc why is the humidity in the plastic boxes almost 2x higher than when on a cooking sheet with cling wrap inside my Proofing Box (which had the humidity water tray full)

Your note above about a sticky mess is exactly the struggle I faced all last summer....much happier I am now using RT ferments.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Why is thee humidity higher in plastic dough boxes??
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2019, 02:08:41 PM »
Because in the box the humidity cannot be dissipated as it is in the house. Additionally, the dough balls gain temperature and this too cannot be dissipated due to the insulating properties of the box.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

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