When a finished product comes out of the oven, it’s time for antioxidants to go to work. Staling starts as ingredients begin to oxidize, so once the product is cooled these anti-staling ingredients must kick into gear. How the finished product is stored, whether ambient or frozen, will have an impact on which antioxidant would be best.

“Antioxidants quench free radicals and protect lipids to extend the shelf life of sensitive ingredients,” said Kristen Robbins, assistant R&D manager, Kemin Food Technologies. “If a product is frozen, oxidation will still occur, just at a slower rate, but the antioxidants will continue to work in this environment. Antioxidants also withstand the baking process, so they protect the product during its entire life cycle from frozen storage, thawing and baking.” 

In fully baked products stored at ambient temperature, the effectiveness of antioxidants is dependent on the ingredient’s stability and the finished product’s storage conditions, explained Darwin Ortiz, PhD, senior food protection scientist, North America, IFF. These baked goods require antioxidants that remain stable at high temperatures and in the presence of oxygen. The final step, however, often relies on the final customer or consumer.  

“Proper storage conditions, such as keeping the finished product in a cool, dry and dark place, can preserve the effectiveness of the antioxidants and maintain the quality of the product,” Dr. Ortiz said.

When it comes to par-baked products and frozen dough, oxidation may be happening slower, but these products are also enduring high temperatures for longer, which has an impact on effectiveness. In these applications, Dr. Ortiz recommended bakers use higher levels of antioxidants to make sure they have enough protection. 

“Additionally, the choice of antioxidants and their stability at different temperatures should be considered when formulating products for these applications,” he said.

In frozen dough, Min Hu, PhD, principal scientist and antioxidant team leader, Corbion, pointed out that lipid oxidation rates are much lower. He recommended rosemary extract or mixed tocopherols in frozen dough, which can decrease the lipid oxidation rate and extend shelf life. 

At the end of the day, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared for any storage conditions. Even if the product is intended for ambient storage, bakers can’t assume the final consumer won’t refrigerate or freeze the product, which will have an impact on texture and rate of staling. 

“Anti-staling solutions need to be effective in these conditions to ensure that the quality and shelf life of the product are maintained,” Dr. Ortiz said. 

By understanding how antioxidants interact with other ingredients and the forces at work in the bakery process, bakers can set their antioxidants for success. All it takes is the right ingredients added at the right time.

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