Wasting food a “pet hate”
Wasting food is a “pet hate” of mine. I’m not sure where this comes from exactly. A number of reasons probably. When I was young I had a hiatus hernia that made it difficult to swallow food so never really enjoyed meals until the hernia was repaired. Now I enjoy eating most foods so not wasting food might come from an appreciation of just being able to eat properly. Another reason may come from a social conscious of being in a position of having plenty of food if I want when others in the world are starving. A third and probably quite significant reason is being self-employed. There were times when months would go by with little or no income so only buying food in small amounts and having minimal waste became a financially beneficial habit.So what’s this got to do with moisture-matters? The picture might give a clue.
Condensation on bread
Within the chapter on Food in my book A Wet Look At Climate Change I show a graph of bread releasing moisture. My point is that fresh bread does this all the time and will easily loose nearly all of its moisture if left out to dry or of course if toasted. Here’s the problem. Moisture which is naturally given off by bread into the air becomes trapped and builds up in a sealed bag. Sometimes bread on the supermarket’s shelf is cool and, not surprisingly, condensation has appeared on the inside and this can clearly be seen when a polythene bag is used. This condensation could be due to deliberate refrigeration by the supermarket or through early morning delivery and storage when temperatures are cool. As the temperature drops the relative humidity inside the bag increases to a point where the air in the bag becomes saturated and the moisture in the air becomes liquid water which lands on the bread and on the inside surface of the packaging.
Bread in waxed paper bags
We do not eat a lot of bread at home and can have a loaf sitting around in its bag for a few days. Moisture building up around the bread can cause growth of fungi in just the same way as I talked about in my Autumn blog post for fungi appearing in my garden. Experience has taught me after dumping mouldy bread that polythene bags are the worst offenders compared to waxed paper packaging. Unless there is absolutely no other choice, I never buy a loaf packed in a polythene bag and always go for the waxed paper packaging. In Ireland, an ideal choice for us is Brennan’s bread that we know we can keep in its bag sometimes for over 5 days and then we freeze any left over.
Keeping a loaf in the fridge
Tuning into Today FM’s Breakfast Show last week I heard a discussion on the best way to keep bread. Interesting that some people keep their loaf in the fridge. A physical Law of Nature tells us that the cool temperature of a fridge will help maintain a high humidity inside the sealed bread bag. But the low temperature of the fridge will slow down the growth of fungi and so we have in this case a play off between high humidity promoting fungal growth and the cool fridge inhibiting growth. We never have enough room in our fridge for a loaf of bread so this is not an option for us.
Waxed paper packaging is the best buy
Personally I think waxed paper packaging for bread is just the best option and will stick to that. Bread is just one of many foods that are affected by moisture. Knowing how this happens and what can be done to slow down spoilage can cut down wastage and save you money.
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Welcome to my world of moisture