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Scientists Develop Sixty Day Bread 440

Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that scientists have developed a technique that can make bread stay mold-free for 60 days that could also be used with a wide range of foods including fresh turkey and many fruits and vegetables. At its laboratory on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Don Stull of Microzap showed off the long, metallic microwave device that resembles an industrial production line. Originally designed to kill bacteria such as MRSA and salmonella, the researchers discovered it could kill the mold spores in bread in around 10 seconds. 'We treated a slice of bread in the device, we then checked the mold that was in that bread over time against a control,' says Stull. 'And at 60 days it had the same mold content as it had when it came out of the oven.' Food waste is a massive problem in most developed countries. In the US, figures released this year suggest that the average American family throws away 40% of the food they purchase — which adds up to $165 Billion annually. There is some concern that consumers might not take to bread that lasts for so long and Stull acknowledges it might be difficult to convince some people of the benefits. 'We'll have to get some consumer acceptance of that. Most people do it by feel and if you still have that quality feel they probably will accept it.'"
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Scientists Develop Sixty Day Bread

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  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @04:43AM (#42166747)
    Botulinum bacteria are obligate anaerobic, they can't survive in oxygen atmosphere. So you're safe with bread. And C. botulinum _spores_ are ubiquitous, so there's no sense in trying to prevent those.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @05:52AM (#42166987)

    What's the big deal here?

    McDonalds has figured out how to make an entire hamburger, including the bun, last for 20 years [] without molding.

  • by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @05:58AM (#42167011)

    Well, everything we put into our bodies is a chemical, even O2 and H2O.

    The question is, how harmful are these chemicals? The flour is actually probably the most harmful ingredient in the bread. Our digestive tract isn't really equipped to process any kind of wheat unlike most herbivores (which we are NOT, in spite of what vegetarians/vegans/peta tells you) and it does have a substance that is rather toxic to our intestines - gluten (which by the way, they almost always list as a separate ingredient, even though it is part of the flour.)

    Though probably worse than flour is bleached flour, which happens to have most of the nourishment removed from it, so you mostly just end up with the bad stuff.

    Soy is also bad for you, pretty much on par with flour if not worse, and bread often includes it. Yeah, I know, the Chinese lived off of it for some long assed time, and so did blah blah other culture. These guys lived off of it because they literally had nothing else to eat, so either eat soy or starve. The Irish lived off of eating grass for a while as well, but I don't see anybody eating that, primarily because it mostly just goes right through you. Unlike say cows, we only have a single chamber stomach, and it pretty much doesn't do shit to break down the grass into anything that our intestines can absorb. The hippies had it wrong, stay away from soy. []

    Your homemade bread might include soy as well, namely from the oil you put in the pan to keep the dough from sticking to it, and most vegetable oils include soy as an ingredient (especially the cheap ones.)

    To be honest, it's best to avoid bread entirely. Beef for protein and salad are generally the best things you can eat, dress it with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.

    Better than that, replace the beef with ostrich meat if it is available where you live, tastes much better, more nutritious, and is very lean. Plus if you're an eco geek, ostriches require less resources to raise than cows. If nobody sells it locally, you'll pay a lot for it unfortunately. []

  • by quenda ( 644621 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @06:05AM (#42167025)

    What could they be possibly putting in there that lets it last ten days, let alone sixty?

    Anti-staling agents used in bread are fatty acids as monoglyceride and diglyceride and wheat gluten and enzymes []

  • by ratbag ( 65209 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @06:08AM (#42167041)

    Okay, in the spirit of your comment:

    What the freak is Google for?

    Here's what you get when you lookup "hovis bread ingredients" (Hovis is the most popular brand in the UK and sadly plain white bread is still the most popular loaf): []

    On that page it lists the ingredients (the same as it does on the bag) as follows:

    Wheat Flour (milled from 100% British Wheat), Water, Yeast, Salt, Soya Flour, Fermented Wheat Flour, Vegetable Fat, Emulsifiers: E472e, E471 (made from Vegetable Oils); Flour Treatment Agent: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).

    Starting from the end, I think your "dough conditioner" is out "flour treatment agent". Even some home bakers use Vitamin C in their breadmaking.

    So I do some more Googling (try it, you'll like it) and discover that an 800g loaf typically has about 500g of flour and 7g of yeast and may be up to 45% water - we're running out of room for the "chemicals" now.


    Vegetable fat - fat extracted from vegetables. Ha. Binding agent, also controls the gluten development to avoid over-rising.

    Emulsifiers (binding agents, prevent the separation of ingredients, improve the texture). See [] for the specific ones used by Hovis.

    Now, was that so difficult? Use your loaf, as we might say in Britain. Don't be "suspicious" of a product, investigate. You might not like what you find, but at least you'll know and your mind can be put to rest.

    And yes, as I mention in another comment, I was being "funny" - I just have a hard time when people have the means to discover information, but instead choose to sit there and develop preconceptions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @07:29AM (#42167357)

    That is particularly funny, since the type of treatment -- ultra-high temperature processing (or "UHT") -- that makes milk last longer than a few days is virtually non-existent in America, yet quite common in a number of European nations, including the Netherlands. Sure you didn't get the anecdote backwards there, ace?

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @07:41AM (#42167413) Homepage

    You can do this already... make your bread with honey instead of sugar. Bread made with honey will outlast sugar based breads 3:1 in time before mold sets in.

    Problem is most bread companies dont want to do that, it reduces the CEO's pay by reducing profits.

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @07:46AM (#42167437) Journal

    Just defrost the slices you want to consume in the microwave and they will be just as fresh as newly baked bread.

    This raises the question: have you ever eaten freshly made bread?

    Or, it raises the question: have you ever eaten defrosted bread?

  • by FishTankX ( 1539069 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @07:57AM (#42167471)

    The hardening of bread is actually caused by moisture in the air crystallizing the starches in the bread. If you could build a breadbox that would keep humidity very low, you could probably keep your bread good for a long time.

    However, bread goes stale faster in the refrigerator because it speeds up the process of starch crystallization, so if you could store it outside of the refrigerator without mold spores developing, you have extended the life of your bread by quite a bit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2012 @08:15AM (#42167547)

    As an American, I'd like to clarify something here: while I won't defend the horrendous bread that gets sold in mass-market superstores, those same mass-market superstores almost exclusively sell milk that has been subjected to nothing more than regular pasteurization. UHT milk has not ever caught on in the US, and in fact it is quite rare for a store to carry it at all. If you ask for milk at a store in the US (whether it's a gigantic superstore, a regular chain grocery store, a local grocery store, or even a convenience store), you will almost certainly be directed to a refrigerated aisle for regular pasteurized milk.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @08:27AM (#42167593)

    C. botulinum _spores_ are ubiquitous, so there's no sense in trying to prevent those.

    Err, you missed the crucial "can food" component of his post. I also can food. Not so much because of cost (I think your time has to be worth less than 50 cents/hr to break even) but because I apparently have weird taste in food. For example I love canned brandied apples, peach -n- rum sauce, bourbon cherries... hmm I detect a pattern there. Interesting how tasty food canned with booze is, and how you absolutely cannot buy it retail in the USA. Also for awhile I was making my own mustard for the technical challenge (the exact timing of the reaction is important to the heat level, and balancing/working around the bitterness is also pretty interesting). I enjoy the chemistry of the whole canning activity. Acidity, sugar levels, salt levels, pressure canning is 10x cooler than water bath canning, etc. Aside from novelty and taste, canning also saves time when done right. For example the immense prep, measurement, tasting and fine tuning, and especially cleanup time for my homemade peach barbecue sauce is nearly the same for one piece of chicken or 24 canned halfpints so I'm far better off making 24 times what I currently need and canning the rest for near instant use. In CS notation the overall system of food making scales WAY less than linear with volume.

    Anyway the "ball book of canning" and/or the stuff from the USDA will save your life (literally) WRT canning. Granny recipes and stuff you read on the internet will just get you food poisoning or worse (yes, there is worse).

  • by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:27AM (#42167905)

    The sugars are generally used when proofing the yeast, and that is usually only one or two teaspoons. You basically are giving it glucose to start making CO2. The yeast can get that from the flour, however it takes longer for the dough to rise. If you're producing bread at a bakery then you have access to a proofing oven, sugar is less important in that case, however it still is used to give white bread a more golden colour. Yes, I once worked at a bakery.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:36AM (#42167959) Homepage Journal
    False. Bread gets hard because the starches move to a lower-energy state. Bread keeps well frozen; but in the refrigerator it goes stale faster because the starches change their physical structure. This change occurs more slowly at room temperature. It ceases at extremely low temperatures, and reverses at elevated temperatures.
  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:47AM (#42168033) Homepage Journal

    I'm not really sure why I'm explaining all this as this is naught but common sense.

    No, it's more like naught but bullshit. The proper way to store bread in the freezer is in a freezer bag that retains the moisture. Ice crystals form inside the back--that's moisture that's leaving the bread. You bring the bread out of the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature in the bag until the crystals have disappeared, re-absorbing the water. Then you place it in a 350F degree oven for about 15 minutes to re-distribute the water.

    Taken from an 80 year old man who has baked over six thousand different styles of bread and routinely freezes whole loaves, even if they're to be served in just a few days.

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:14AM (#42168257)
    Which is why you can throw a stale slice of bread in the microwave for 5-7 seconds and have a fresh out of the oven slice of bread experience. Just be sure to eat it before it cools.
  • by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:25AM (#42168359)
    For contrast, one of the most popular brand name white breads in the USA (Wonder Bread) has this list of ingredients.

    Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% of less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datem, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness).

    I don't know what half of that crap is.

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