What’s this? Keep your bread mold-free for 60 days?? As an avid bread baker (and eater), I had to click on this Associated Press story: Texas company claims new microwave keeps bread mold-free for 60 days
OK, so delving into the story it’s not quite that simple (surprise!). Still, it’s very exciting from a food waste standpoint and a why-are-there-so-many-ingredients-in-this standpoint. First, be sure to note that this has nothing to do with the furry green bread on your counter, this is all about shelf-life in stores.
The process could eliminate bakers’ need for preservatives and ingredients used to mask preservatives’ flavor, as well as reduce food waste and increase bread’s shelf life, he said.
I must admit, that as a home bread baker the thought of not being able to make stuff with half the ingredients as store bought means I could lose some edge 🙂 However, eliminate preservatives? No thanks, I’ll keep putting butter in my bread except when I need a doorstop.
Still, there were some pretty (unintentionally) funny moments in this story. Like this –
“The consumers saw no discernible quality difference in the breads,” Stull said of testers who found the treated bread’s taste and texture unchanged.
An Associated Press reporter found the same. Though slightly warm from the microwaves, a piece of whole-grain white bread was soft and tasted like one that hadn’t been zapped. Sixty-day-old bread was not available to taste.
How many things are wrong with this? How about some detailed test results? And I like how the gullible reporter just chomped on a freshly nuked slice of bread and, lo and behold! It was soft (and warm). How often do you nuke bread and, while warm, it’s not nice and soft? How about an hour later, let alone 60 days later? How about 15 minutes later? 5? Of course the taste wasn’t changed – has this reporter never eaten anything from a microwave before? It makes things hot, not taste different, the last time I checked. Now if you could market a microwave that made things taste better…
Estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council this year indicated that in 2008, in-store food losses in the U.S. totaled an estimated 43 billion pounds — 10 percent of all foods supplied to retail outlets — most of which are perishables, including bread.
Pretty sweet if you could reduce the amount of bread thrown out. Of course we should expect follow-up reporting on how this will hurt the freecycling garbage eaters that rely on this stuff for their daily…uh…not gonna say it.
This is my favorite part –
Not so fast, says Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University. There are thousands of airborne mold spores everywhere, she said, adding that though bread producers might like the technology for storage and transportation, those spores are problematic at home.
“Once you open (the bag of bread), all bets are off,” she said.
“Not so fast”? But they weren’t making any such claim, such “bets”. Just the opposite, they keep harping on how this is about unopened, on-the-shelf bread. Not at home. I’m over here enjoying my apple and then here comes this lady throwing oranges at me.
Still, it’s not all a picnic I guess –
But there are characteristics that the zapping won’t improve; it won’t keep bread from going stale. As for touch, firmness and flavor after 60 days, one scientist had his doubts.
“There would certainly be some questions that I would have around the texture of the bread holding for 60 days,” said Brian Strouts, head of experimental baking for the Manhattan, Kan.-based nonprofit American Institute of Baking. “It would not be the answer to all the problems with baked goods. There’s a lot of things that can start happening,” including bread becoming rancid.
Interesting. So my bread’s not moldy, but it’s stale and rancid. I guess we haven’t solved the Third World food shortage just yet. On the other hand, there’s a job called “head of experimental baking”?!
Wait, I actually have a new favorite part –
The technology — an effort funded by $1.5 million from Texas’ Emerging Technology Fund — was initially intended to kill bacteria such as MRSA, a contagious bacterial infection that’s resistant to many commonly used antibiotics, and salmonella. But researchers discovered it also killed mold spores in bread and sterilized fresh or processed foods without cooking or damaging them.
It doesn’t take much effort to read between the lines here, does it? Especially for watchers of The Big Bang Theory and Real Genius? You’ve got this $1.5 million project to come up with a device that was probably intended to be used in hospitals and someone decides to heat up their sandwich in it, forgets to eat it and goes on vacation, and comes back a month later to find, duh duh DUUUUUUHHHHH! No mold on the bread! Suddenly they’ve got a Wonder Bread zapper they’re trying to sell to bakeries.
Home bakers, for the moment, for the win.