COVID-19: Extending the Shelf-Life of Baked Goods
Uncertainty around how long the ‘lock down’ period will last, and with people being encouraged to self-isolate, has seen consumer demand for products with a longer shelf-life increase. As a staple food item that is versatile and easy to store, bread is proving more and more popular, regularly selling out in-store. The demand for fresh patisserie has declined with consumers opting for individual, long shelf-life options, that can be stored for several days to treat themselves during this period of isolation.
Matthew Bratt, Patisserie Chef at global bakery ingredients supplier Puratos UK, shares advice on easy to implement techniques to help extend the shelf-life of patisserie and bread items.
When preparing patisserie, there are a number of ingredient tweaks you can make to help goods stay fresher for longer. Margarines and oils have a longer life than butter, so opt to use these where possible. Sugar is also well known for its preservation properties, so where appropriate, add a 5% sugar syrup or honey to recipes to boost both shelf-life and sweetness.
Once baked, wrap goods tightly in two layers of clingfilm and store in an airtight container. Ensure the container is stored in an ambient environment away from direct sunlight or other heat sources.
Alternatively, many patisserie products have excellent freeze / thaw properties giving the option to freeze the goods and defrost when appropriate.
Bread is a store-cupboard item for consumers, that is used frequently, at different eating occasions throughout the day. It is important to ensure that bread stays fresh for as long as possible.
There are many products on the market that can help maintain freshness such as improvers and shelf-life enhancers but there are also some simple changes that can be made in the process.
To keep bread softer for longer, add more fat and water to the dough when preparing it. Baking bread for a shorter period (as far as the application allows) will also help keep bread fresher. If you are considering streamlining production and focusing on certain lines, consider using a Sourdough which will help bread stay fresher for longer naturally, delivering a great flavour that improves over time.
When storing outside of the freezer, be sure to double bag and keep product in a cool environment.
Advising consumers of options to help them store and maintain their bread is essential. Freezing bread is an excellent way to lengthen its life, supplying pre-sliced to the purchaser will help them to portion efficiently. If a loaf is beginning to stale, inform the consumer that they can refresh it in the oven for a few minutes and serve immediately.
Bread is also a product that is great for recycling and can be used in other ways by turning into breadcrumbs, melba toasts or croutons and even some desserts.Advise your customers to do the same.