And now for something completely different. Microwave sterilization of bread can extend mold-free freshness up to 60 days. A new patent-pending technology developed by MicroZap, a private company founded by professors at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, does just this.

The new method uses pulsed microwave frequencies from multiple sources to pasteurize foods. Length of time determines the degree of treatment. The process eliminates hot and cold spots and does not cook the food. Potential uses include bread and buns supplied to the military in meals-ready-to-eat (MREs).

German and Austrian bakers have employed microwave sterilization of vollkornbrot for several years. Spoilage had been a problem because the whole grains used for this style of bread must retain a high amount of moisture to ensure palatability. The long loaves are sliced and packaged, then conveyed through a continuous microwave system.