Keeping bakery products fresh

by Martina Mollenhauer and Christof Schricke Mühlenchemie
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Fresh loaf of sliced bread
U.S. consumers expect bread to have a long shelf life.
 

KANSAS CITY — In the United States, most consumers choose sliced, wrapped bread from the supermarket. The longer a loaf stays soft and succulent, the more likely it is to be bought, so anti-staling is increasingly becoming a topic in the production process, too. The latest generation of enzyme systems can keep bakery products fresh significantly longer — not only increasing their enjoyment value, but also improving their cost-effectiveness and reducing their environmental impact.

Most U.S. consumers have a clear idea of what their bread should be like: wrapped, sliced, with a high volume and a soft crumb. Bread is bought during the weekly shopping expedition to the supermarket; artisan bakeries play only a subordinate role in the United States.

Large retail chains stock a selection of more than 50 varieties. Besides the classic type made from light-colored wheat flour there are sliced loaves containing rye or wholemeal flour, with grains and seeds, with sour dough, with dietary fibers or oatmeal, in “farmhouse style,” as low-carb or fat-free variants, and many other varieties.

Bread consumption in the United States is currently declining slightly because of a change in eating habits, but bread is still an important staple food that is usually eaten toasted or as a filled sandwich.

Long shelf life urged

There is a great demand in the food trade for loaves with an extremely long shelf life. As a result of hygiene measures, customers can still buy a quality loaf with pleasant freshness and elasticity even days after its production. So the service interval for the shelves can be extended and the return of stale goods reduced. This helps to increase a company’s profitability and improve its sustainability balance.

In the consumers’ homes, it generally takes several days for an opened pack to be used up, so the microbiological and structural stability of the goods is an important quality attribute. However, as far as the fresh keeping is concerned, the right mouthfeel has now become an additional criterion, besides the elasticity and the structure of the crumb. Sensory deficits are no longer accepted. U.S. customers expect the enjoyment value of their favorite bread to remain unchanged for as long as possible.

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READER COMMENTS (1)

By Dean Kasper 8/22/2017 6:03:40 AM
I found several disturbing and inaccurate claims in this article. Commercial wholesale bread today has been designed for long shelf life not because of customer demand, but for cost savings in distribution for the baker. The consumer acceptance and infrequency of purchase because of poorer quality is why the long shelf life is required. They need the shelf life in order to sell the bread. It is a vicious cycle in order to keep the bakeries running. If the bakers produced bread based on the frequency of sale or purchase by the consumer they would have to shut down bakeries. Most wholesale bread today smells and taste bad due to high levels of preservatives and eats like fly paper due to the gummy crumb character as result of the enzymes that liquefy the starch of the flour. One only has to walk the bread isle of the supermarket to find the most unappetizing aromas in the store. It certainly doesn't smell like fresh baked bread and doesn't make you excited about purchasing these choice smells and take them home to burst open the package to consume the product inside. The baking industry continues to shoot themselves in the foot every time they look to extend shelf life. The sponge and dough system will actually reduce dough absorption versus a straight dough process. There is way too much inaccurate information regarding health and nutrition being published and broadcast by unqualified sources.