If you are a bread lover like my brothers (they loveeeeeeee bread), then I’m almost certain you can relate with the excitement I see on their faces when there is bread readily available. I won’t even deny the fact that the amazing smell of freshly baked bread makes me salivate. There is arguably nothing better than a fresh loaf of bread for sandwiches or to spread with butter and homemade jam to have with a cup of tea or coffee. Whether baked at home or bought off a store shelf, bread is a staple food that will almost always be found in every home.
What is bread and what is it made of?
Bread is a staple food made from baked dough. This dough is usually a mixture of flour, water and other ingredients like yeast, eggs, sugar and a fat, such as butter. There are numerous methods of combining different flours and differing proportions of ingredients resulting in the wide variety of types, shapes, sizes, and textures of bread available around the world today.
From leavened which involves aerating via a number of different processes ranging from the use of naturally occurring microbes to high-pressure artificial aeration during preparation and baking, or sometimes left unleavened based on personal preferences. Some persons may choose to add a wide variety of additives, ranging from fruits and nuts to various fats, to chemical additives designed to improve the flavour, texture, colour and shelf life of the bread.
Bread can be eaten as a snack and is even used as an ingredient in other culinary preparations. It can also be served in different forms at any meal of the day. With the ever increasing acceptance globally, bread has come to take on significance beyond mere nutrition, evolving into a fixture in religious rituals, secular cultural life and language and provides nutrition such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, energy, B vitamins, iron, calcium, etc.
What Causes the Growth of Bread Mold
Bread mold is the most common type of fungus that grows on any kind of bread. Despite the fact that, it is a great source for many industrial uses, bread mold can have severe effects on the human body when consumed. You may be wondering what industrial need bread mold can be used for? One answer to this question will be when Alexander Fleming, the great scientist discovered Penicillin which is the first antibiotic medication made from the fungus Penicillium chrysogenum.
Bread mold is characterized by some patches of dark-color and occurs when the bread has stayed exposed over a long period of time. When you leave the bread open for some more time, the mold spreads quickly and the entire bread turns into a green or black color and appears fuzzy. It is advisable to throw the bread away when you discover any of these signs.
Bread mold is simply a fungus that takes food and nutrients from the bread and damages the bread surface. Although the growth of this mold makes the bread land in the trash bin, bread mold can be of great industrial use as stated earlier. The mold that grows on bread can be a microscopic fungi belonging to different species like Penicillium, Rhizopus, Aspergillus, Monascus and Fusarium. They come in different shapes and colors depending on the species. Rhizopus stolonifer is the most common and fast growing bread mold. It is also known as black mold as it appears dark green or black in color. It causes rotting of some fruits and some infections in humans.
Studies have revealed that microscopic parts of the bread mold fungi, known as spores, can be found in the air all around us. They can be found on any surface and in any condition no matter how neat such surface seem to be. They land on the surface of bread that may be left open in normal conditions, say on the kitchen countertop. These spores then germinate to form hyphae that begin to grow on the bread surface absorbing all the moisture and nutrients from the bread. That is to say, the bread serves as a house/breeding ground.
With adequate nutrients from the bread, they develop into mature fungi that consists of rhizoids. These rhizoids penetrate into the bread surface and marry the fungus to the organic material. It then develops fruiting structures known as sporangium, where small spores grow and are released in the surrounding areas.
The growth rate of bread mold is dependent on several factors with temperature playing a very significant role. Studies show that the growth rate of mildew would be slowed down, especially if the bread is refrigerated. It has been observed that most molds thrive in temperatures above 70° F, and the low temperatures in the refrigerator are unfavorable for bread mold.
How Long Does Bread Last in the Fridge?
Bread kept at room temperature will have a shelf life ranging from 3–7 days but may vary depending on ingredients, type of bread, and storage method. Without preservatives, bread lasts 3–4 days at room temperature and some common bread preservatives include calcium propionate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and sorbic acid. Lactic acid bacteria is an alternative that naturally produces anti-mold acids.
It is important to note that Gluten-free bread is more susceptible to mold due to its higher moisture content and limited use of preservatives. This is why it’s usually sold frozen instead of room temperature.
Refrigeration can increase the shelf life of both commercial and homemade bread by 3–5 days. Kindly note that if you choose this route, you will have to ensure your bread is sealed well to prevent drying and that there’s no visible moisture in the packaging. Freezing your bread will stop the growth of mold completely as the temperatures in the freezer are way below the favorable temperature. For bread mold to grow in a living organism, it requires moisture and oxygen.
The moisture trapped in the bread bag is absorbed by the fungus and it grows at a faster rate when left at room temperature. However, as mold is a type of fungi and not a plant, bread mold does not require light for its growth.
How to keep bread from molding asides refrigerating?
Cloth bread bag: These bags keep your bread air-tight while still allowing just enough air flow, so the bread breathes. If you don’t have a cloth bread bag? Try wrapping bread up in a large clean tea towel and you will get same results as a bag you purchased. Studies show that using a cloth bag works well for white French bread, keeping it fresh for two days.
Brown paper bag: A simple brown paper bag will keep your bread from molding. Many bakeries sell their bread in brown paper for this very reason. This method works really well for hard-crusted, rustic breads and will keep bread fresh for up to two days. Just keep the bag tightly closed and store out of direct sunlight.
Avoid storing in plastic: Mold needs just the right conditions to grow and storing your bread in a sealed plastic bag is going to provide those conditions – moisture and warmth. If you can’t avoid plastic bags, then make sure to keep the bag open and place on your countertop out of the sun. Keeping the bag open will allow some air circulation in the bag, so mold won’t develop.
Use bread boxes: Bread boxes aren’t just for aesthetics (although some can definitely improve the look and feel of your kitchen). They’re also perfect for storing bread to keep it from molding. Just place the loaf directly into the box without putting into a paper or plastic bag first.
In conclusion, do not eat bread with mold as the fungi that grows on it can give it an off-flavor and may be harmful to your health. Some mold is safe to consume, such as the types purposely used to make blue cheese. However, it is impossible to know what kind of mold is growing on your bread just by looking at it, so it’s best to assume it’s harmful and not eat it to avoid health complications.
In addition, endeavor to avoid smelling moldy bread, as you may inhale spores from the fungus. If you have an allergy to mold, inhaling it could lead to breathing problems, including asthma and other issues.
Remember, refrigerating your bread is one of the ways to increase its shelf life by 3-5 days and prevent bread mold.
Did you find this write up helpful? Find out how to make 5 Yummy Homemade Snacks Recipes You’ll Love here.