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There are many types of bread preservatives, including chemical and natural varieties. Chemical preservatives are often put in manufactured bread to increase shelf life. Natural preservatives can be used in homemade bread to garner the same effect. Some varieties of manufactured bread might also use natural preservatives.
Packaged bread might include preservatives such as asorbic acid, calcium proprionate, lecithin, polysorbate 60 and sodium propionate. Other chemicals that are used in the milling process of the flour and that aid in preservation might be harmful. Potassium bromate, for example, is a carcinogen that is found in white flour. It has been banned in some countries.
Bread preservatives work in three main ways. Some inhibit bacteria or mold growth. Others stop the oxidation process or stop the natural enzymatic processes in the ingredients.
Ascorbic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin C. It works to both assist bread in the rising stage and as a preservative. Ascorbic acid lowers potenz hydrogen (pH) levels, stopping the enzymatic process that makes bread go bad.
Lecithin is an antioxidant that stops oxidation and prevents bread from going rancid. Calcium propionate and sodium propionate are compounds of calcium or sodium salts and propionic acid. Both compounds prohibit mold growth in bread and baked goods. Polysorbate 60 is an emulsifier and prevents bread from getting stale.
Sodium bisulfite and sulfur dioxide are sulfites that prevent bacterial growth. These preservatives are not as commonly used in bread but can be found. They might cause severe reactions in people who have certain sensitivities.
Ginger, garlic, honey, clove and cinnamon are natural bread preservatives. Any of these can be added by a cook to extend the life of bread. All of these ingredients prevent bacteria and mold growth. They also have the bonus of adding flavor to bread. Powdered ginger also can be used as a preservative without adding flavor.
Although bread preservatives are the best way to keep bread safe from spoiling, there are other precautions that can be used to keep bread fresh. Bread can be stored in an airtight container or in a cool, dry and dark place. Airtight containers will keep out airborne bacteria. Dark, cool and dry places are less hospitable to mold and bacteria.
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