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Mold on Tea Bread Slices! Help!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello All

We make a line of tea breads: banana, carrot, zucchini, etc. We have sold whole loaves for a long time and started selling wrapped slices about 2 months ago. They sell very well and some local natural foods stores have started carrying them. They generally last 10 days. The problem: two recent batches have developed mold after about 2 days.

We bake in 16" pullman loaf pans. After the bread is turned out it goes into the freezer to cool completely. After a few hours or days we take out the loaves, slice and wrap them in cello squares that are taped shut. The slices are then delivered to a store or put back in the freezer or the cooler until needed.

I sell these slices at an outdoor farm market and have never had a problem. Even when I get back home after a show and leave them packed for a few days until I dispose of them, I have NEVER seen mold. One store that had mold in 2 days is air conditioned, the other one is not. I give the slices a shelf life of 5 days (loaves get 8), but with this mold issue we are not selling to stores at all until we can sort it out.

When it has been hot there is condensation inside the cello after the slices are wrapped. There is no A/C in our facility so the slices are always going from freezer to a very very warm environment, and then sometimes back into the cold. We are in upstate NY.

One of my Sultan books mentions calcium or sodium propionate as an additive to deter mold. Our products are all natural, so I don't think that would work. He also mentions a scorbic acid spray being used to keep english muffins fresh longer. This seems do-able. Does anyone use this? Is it just vitamin C?

One other baker suggested adding lemon juice because lowering the pH of the batter will help. Also increasing the salt. I think the scorbic acid might do the pH trick. Increasing the acidity of our batter would involve fiddling with the leavening (powder and/or soda), so an after-baking solution would be best.

" This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope."

Thanks All!

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post #2 of 13
Hi Tap Tapper,
Can the slices be getting to warm during transit, and sweating?

Are you using the same knife to cut from product to product, or are you changing the knife as you change flavors? (this can make a difference with cheese and luncheon meats)

I'll let others answer the ph question, as I agree, but can't address the technical issues.
post #3 of 13
So this problem is only happening at 2 of the stores?

It might be that they are not rotating the product correctly.

If so you should consider doing what the milk and other bread guys do, and have your delivery person stock and rotate the goods themselves.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Actually, I AM the delivery person! For both orders (different weeks) we baked the day before, wrapped that morning, I delivered and the stuff had green spots 48 hours later. The slices generally sell out before I return, or I take away the few that are left. One store was up to 8 dozen a week and the other was on their second order (3 dozen).

But thanks for the answer! I wish that it is a rotation problem.

I see online that powdered ginger is sometimes used?
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks Iamone.

If it's warm I turn on the A/C in the car while I'm delivering, but when it gets to the place with no A/C they probably do sweat.

We generally slice multiple loaves of the same type at once without cleaning between loaves. But we use clean knives before slicing a different type because of the different ingredients.
post #6 of 13
Are they being wrapped warm? Make sure they're completely cool before wrapping. Keep them in a cool place until they're ready for display.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
They are always freezing cold when we cut and wrap.

Anyone use UV light? I'm thinking about a 10 min UV bath after they're sliced.
post #8 of 13
That could be a problem. What is the temperature in your freezer throughout the day? Do you have a blast freezer?

How much mold was on the bad products? Was it on the cake only or the cello pack as well?
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
The freezer at the facility is a large walk-in. We use the regular freezer and also a quick-freeze one (maybe that's the blast?). There are a lot of companies sharing the space so the door is opened many times a day, but it's always very cold when I go in. The quick freeze is always painfully cold.

The mold was on the surface of the slices and not on the cello.
post #10 of 13
For an all natural product I would use vinegar; strong vinegar 200 grain. Vinegar from grocery stores etc, is typically around 50 grain. Calcium propinate I would not recommend for an all natural product. If you are using a bread slicer Oliver or something along those lines, changing the blades and keeping them clean, especially between product changes will help greatly.

Hope this helps!
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I have easy access to 100gr vinegar, but I assume we'll have to adjust the soda/powder to maintain our rise. We bake in 16" pullman loaf pans (strapped 3 together, from Do you have a rough idea of the amount of vinegar I should be testing (per pan or amt of flour)?
post #12 of 13
1% of flour weight is a good starting point. I would try it first with no adjustment to your soda/powder. I use .5% to 1.5% depending on the time of the year and the product.

Best of Luck
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Fantastic advice! Thanks a lot. We will test this and I'll post next week with results.
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