45 days of freshness

by Jeff Gelski
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The baked foods industry has seen its share of innovations in preservation recently. Hostess Brands, L.L.C., Kansas City, for example, earlier this month said Twinkies now will have a shelf life of 45 days, compared to a previous 26 days. The company declined to provide proprietary information about how it has achieved the 45-day shelf life.

Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kas., this year introduced its Ultra Fresh Sweet system that the company said creates from one day to 45 days or more of eating quality in such products as yeast-raised donuts, sheet cakes, cupcakes, pastries and muffins. Ultra Fresh Sweet is a combination of enzymes blended to affect starches in a unique way, said Carrie Johnston, Caravan’s product category manager for mixes and bases. It differs from the original Ultra Fresh system, which was developed to address freshness issues in bread, buns and rolls.

“The factors that affect sweet goods are very different,” she said. “High sugar level, high fat content items must be addressed differently. Ultra Fresh Sweet offers technology specifically developed to address how cook temperatures, cook times and variability in formulas create issues with quality and performance over time.

“This is especially important when addressing sweet goods, which vary significantly in piece size and recipes. It optimizes enzyme activity with respect to temperature, pH, enzyme inhibitors, substrate availability and moisture, creating a moist, soft and resilient texture consumers associate with freshness.”

Shelf life levels in the industry vary by channel, Ms. Johnston said.

“Currently, a lot of commercial formulas get 30 days and more through use of starches, gums, sugars and sometimes enzymes,” she said.

According to Caravan, the extended freshness capability achieved through the use of Ultra Fresh Sweet allows for expanded retail distribution possibilities. A longer shelf life might make snack cakes more likely to succeed in such alternative retail channels as discount stores, dollar stores, drug stores and on-line retailers, according to a report “The return of the Twinkie; Naughty but nice?” released July 10 by Rabobank.

Caravan Ingredients also promotes Ultra Fresh Sweet as an all-natural solution. The company will sample products made with the system during the International Baking Industry Exposition Oct. 6-9 in Las Vegas.

The Ultra Fresh Sweet launch follows other products introduced in recent years that may assist in extending shelf life. DSM offers a CakeZyme line of ingredients while DuPont Nutrition & Health has PowerSoft cake enzymes.

Natural preservation was a focus of a presentation that Beth Jones, Ph.D., vice-president, business development, Pharma, Nutrition and Functional Ingredients at Kerry Ingredients & Flavours, made during the American Society of Baking’s Baking Tech 2013 in March in Chicago.

She said raisin juice concentrate, vinegar and cultured starch all may serve as alternative ingredients for calcium propionate for companies that may want to achieve a simpler label. When replacing calcium propionate, fermented–type products generally are more effective than non-fermented products, she said. In that area, Kerry offers cultured wheat starch and cultured wheat flour.

Kalsec, Kalamazoo, Mich., offers natural antioxidants for baked and extruded goods such as cookies and bars. Using the antioxidants may result in a reduction in hexanal values, a marker for oxidation and an indication of the formation of “off-flavor” and aromas.

ICL Food Specialties, St. Louis, offers Licresse, a licorice extract high in antioxidants to break the chain of oxidation in a variety of foods, not only baked foods but also meat, beverage and dairy applications. The ingredient may allow food manufacturers to keep the nutritional value, color and flavor of food while extending shelf life and palatability.

A more effective use of preservatives may be achieved through the use of InnovaFresh encapsulated fumaric acid from Clabber Girl Corp., Terre Haute, Ind. The ingredient may extend shelf life and improve the appearance of tortillas that are more resistant to tearing and peeling. Using the ingredient in bread may provide cost-saving benefits, such as reducing the amount of calcium propionate and yeast needed and reducing rise time.
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