Microwaves Can Prolong the Life of Bread


Aside from simply eating them really fast, how can you keep loaves of bread from getting moldy?

How much bread do you toss out? We’ve all had the experience of buying a beautiful loaf of fresh-baked bread at the farmers’ market or in one of the city’s excellent boutique bakeries, seduced by its golden crust and craving its artisanal qualities and fundamental goodness. Yet, there it sits on the kitchen counter for days. First, you make a sandwich, and a day or two later eat some toast. Then either it goes stale and becomes hard as a rock, or you wrap it up in plastic to retain the moisture, but then mold appears and inevitably half the loaf gets thrown out. But a solution on how to keep bread fresh has appeared.

Now, the BBC reports that a new process that utilizes technology found in microwave ovens can be used to kill the mold spores on bread, prolonging its life to as long as two months. An American company, known as Microzap, has developed the process (equipment is shown at left), which can be extended to other foods as well. The process was developed on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and originally intended to prevent bacteria-borne diseases like salmonella. It would replace radiation-based processes in this regard.

The process uses a system for delivering the microwaves that distributes them more evenly than a conventional household microwave oven, but is much more expensive to use, meaning that at this point only large-scale commercial bakeries will consider using it. And what if you don’t want your bread zapped? Well, this process can supplant the preservatives that manufacturers usually use to prolong the life of bread. And microwaves are probalby preferable to chemicals.

Does this mean you should try using a microwave at home to prolong the life of your Bien Cuit loaf? Why not? I’d try it myself – except I don’t own a microwave.

[Thanks to Scott Pellegrino for the link]