High on bread

My oldest son who is schooling to become a chef insists that it is possible to get stoned on bread dough. I think I heard this once before, but forget where. Is this really possible?

I’m not quite sure what your son is refering to, exactly. I’m also a culinary student, and I don’t remember hearing about “getting stoned off of bread”. There are two explanations to his conclusion:

  1. The Egyptians figured out how to make beer by letting bread dough ferment in water; the yeasts fed off of the flour, and helped the fermentation process, creating one of the divine liquids ever to flow upon the earth.

But, I get a feeling that he was most likely refering to:

  1. Ergot. Ergot is a fungus that grows in rye stored in damp, cool conditions. When this infected rye is ground, baked into loaves, and eaten, it would cause Ergotism, also known as St. Anthony’s Fire. There are many accounts of Ergotism through out the Middle Ages, especially happening when the growing season was particularly wet. This condition would cause a dry gangrene in the extremities that often ended in the affected limbs to fall off; with this, bouts of madness and convulsions would occur.

You may ask why I mention this second point?

One of the by-products of the Ergot fungus is lysergic acid, more commonly known as LSD.

I think that’s what your son was thinking of.

Well, the waste product of the yeast is alcohol…

I thought that Cecil had done a column on the alcohol content of freshly-baked bread, but I can’t seem to find it.

The only thing is, once baked, the alcohol in the dough no longer exists, as it burns off in the baking process. Besides, the alcohol content is pretty minimal in a lump of dough… you’d be eating quite a bit to make a dent in your liver.

Fraid not Punoqllads - when the bread is baked the alcohol evaporates. Otherwise you would have to sell bread in an off licence.

Yeah, that’s what Cecil said. Or, that’s what my recollection of the column that I can’t find said. But there used to be a stigma attached to eating freshly-baked bread. Um, attached to the person doing the eating, not the bread. Not like a scarlet A or anything. Ack. 3am. Tired…must…sleep.

If we’re talking about eating raw bread dough (which is quite tasty, imho), then I think the answer is “yes” (sort of). You’d probably have to eat a lot of raw bread dough to get even a little tipsy, but it does contain alcohol. (I have never eaten enough raw dough to find out.) The burps I burp after eating raw bread dough taste almost exactly the same as the burps I burp after drinking beer (minus the hops). What did Terry Pratchett say? Something like “Bread is nothing but chewy beer.”

Hw says that if you have a very large container of bread dough rising, and you poke a hole in it and inhale, you can get intoxicated. He says the air in the rising dough is fermented. True?

I thought I knew of every way to get high, but…!

Oh, that sort of high.

What he’s doing in that case is inhaling air with a very high concentration of carbon dioxide in it. Which will quickly go into the bloodstream from the lungs, and should reach the brain after a few seconds. Excess carbon dioxide in the bloodstream will cause increased breathing and heart rate, as well as some dizziness–basically similar to oxygen deprivation.

You can get the same sort of high by opening a bottle of rubbing alcohol and inhaling deeply. Or a similar sort of high from breathing pure oxygen.

It’s also similar to the high you get on nitrous oxide at the dentist’s office.



IIRC, there is a very rare bacteria you can get that causes starches to ferment in your stomach. With this, uh, disease (more like a blessing) you can get drunk by eating bread.

IIRC, that is.


Ah, it makes sense now.

It’s the same kind of high you got when you sniffed fresh
mimeographed copies in junior high.

LazarusLong42 explained it well enough.

Here, I thought he was trying to explain how LSD came from ergotism… and he’s just sniffing dough.

Is this a good place to tell the story of one of my mother-in-law’s dachsies, which gorged itself on a Norwegian Christmas cake (yeast-raised) that MIL had left to rise, thus resulting in an expanding, burping, farting, drunken sausage dog?

No? Fair enough.

Almost on the money, Punq. What they meant is that there’s a stigmata attached to eating freshly-baked bread. Eaten too soon, it will turn your loaves into fishes :smiley:


The CO2 thing is right, but you also get ethanol vapour.