When bakers consider the efficacy of their anti-staling ingredients, the first point they need to consider is choosing the right antioxidant for their specific bakery application. There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all anti-staling solution. 

“Different bakery products have different staling characteristics, which means that bakers need to find anti-staling solutions tailored to each product’s specific needs,” explained Darwin Ortiz, PhD, senior food protection scientist, North America, IFF. 

A baked good’s needs are influenced by many factors, including the baking process and the storage conditions of the finished product, but bakers should really key in on the ingredients in the formula that will contribute to oxidation when looking at anti-staling ingredients. 

“Because ingredients containing oils and fats have differing fatty acid profiles, they may need different natural antioxidant blends to inhibit oxidation,” said Min Hu, PhD, principal scientist and antioxidant team leader, Corbion. “Different oils and fats have varying oxidative stability and shelf life. Bakers could select different oils or fats for different applications.”

In the case of biscuits, crackers and cookies, for example, he pointed out that natural antioxidants, such as mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract or a blend of these, can protect monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, algae oil and fish oil from oxidation. This not only increases the shelf life of the finished product, but it also preserves the nutritional benefits of those fats. 

Dr. Hu also drew attention to another source of natural antioxidants that can provide added nutritional benefits: agro-industrial byproducts. Phenolic compounds from agro-industrial byproducts, or upcycled ingredients from other food waste streams, can inhibit lipid oxidation and improve the shelf life of wheat bread while also delivering added nutrition. 

“The functional or healthy ingredients from agro-industrial byproducts that contain bioactive compounds such as phenolic compounds and dietary fibers can be added to bakery products,” he said. “These ingredients include rice bran, onion skin, peanut skin, mango peel pomace, pomegranate seed powder, green coffee bean flour, buck wheat, apple skin powder, wine grape pomace and so on.”

For example, conventional wheat bread may not need traditional natural antioxidants because lipid oxidation isn’t as much of a challenge for that application. 

While refined flour may not face much in the way of lipid oxidation, whole grain flour battles it more. In this case, Kristen Robbins, assistant R&D manager, Kemin Food Technologies, suggested that creating a synergistic blend of antioxidants can result in an even more robust anti-staling impact. 

“When it comes to anti-staling solutions, bakers utilize a variety of different ingredients to delay the retrogradation process and keep their products fresher for longer,” she said. “Finding the right solution is dependent on many formulations and operational factors, so Kemin’s technical experts help manufacturers work through their formulation to discover which solution works best for their application.”

Choosing the right antioxidant not only comes down to understanding how the specific application or product stales, but also knowing what each antioxidant does. Without an understanding of the roles different antioxidants play, bakers cannot hope to match the ingredient to the product’s needs.

“There are many types of antioxidants used in baking including natural antioxidants like tocopherols, ascorbic acid and flavonoids, and traditional synthetic antioxidants like BHA, BHT and TBHQ,” Dr. Ortiz said. “Each type of antioxidant has unique properties and works differently in different formulations.” 

He also cautioned that once a baker has nailed down the right ingredient or even blend of ingredients, it’s important to hone in on the dosage. 

“Using too few antioxidants will not provide adequate protection while using too much may result in an off-flavor or color,” he said. “Bakers should follow recommended usage levels for each antioxidant and adjust as necessary based on the specific formulation and processing conditions.” 

This article is an excerpt from the June 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Antioxidants, click here.