My World of Moisture

Reduce Food Waste and Save Money

Wasting food a “pet hate”

Fungus on sliced bread

Really mouldy bread

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.

If you would like to hear more about how moisture is linked to both humidity and condensation and their impact in everyday life, please sign up for email alerts of my blogs.

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  1. Rad

    For the first time today , I saw the store brought bread was wet when I opened the pack . It was unnerving . Is this safe to eat though ?


    Lucky guy having had a hiatus hernia,and getting it sorted in later life..I was diagnosed with one
    in mid 1970’s,and with it being so close to my heart was told by gp it was best not to risk an
    operation…but if I had known then how much trouble it was going to cause me in the future,
    and in present days,I would have risked it,as have had,and still get, a lot of pain associated
    with it everyday…
    I haven’t seen any article relating to damp bread sealed in freezer…is this safe to eat once
    defrosted or best thrown away…usually it’s only partly like that,but with me and ibs,hernia etc I
    always like to double check as anything like that could trigger it..

    • PeterMoir

      Hi Ray, sorry to hear of your troubles. The worst for me was food sticking and regurgitation of mucus. Damp bread from the freezer is safe. It’s growth of mold that’s the problem.


    Hi Peter,

    It seems to have affected us both in different ways,as my symptoms were not the same,even
    though my gut isn’t great,have never had the mucus problem,but do get a lot of stomach
    cramp pains etc,following day,after bending,lifting etc,and hernia along with ibs,diverticular
    disease all happening at same time,is unbearable sometimes.
    as for bread,I had some today,very wet,so had to toast it twice over,no after affects yet,but
    even after toasting it tasted a little wet,I had to throw a little out,as it wasn’t just damp,but really wet.
    it tasted okay though as you said it would..put half loaf back in freezer as that part wasn’t wet,just
    hope it’s still that way when I get it out later next week.,but anyway thanks for getting back to me
    about it,and good of you to reply.

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