The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bake-At-Home Sourdough at Costco?? Stays good for months?

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Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

Bake-At-Home Sourdough at Costco?? Stays good for months?

Costco just recently started carrying a three-pack of bread made by "The Essential Baking Company" that intrigues me on so many levels.

 It is shelf-stable (non-refrigerated), organic bread that supposedly will keep for months in their special packaging without molding. Here is their statement: 

Our sourdough bread is made the tradition way, using a natural starter (mother dough) or “Mamacita” as we lovingly call it and only four organic/non-GMO ingredients; Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Organic Malt. That’s right, we don’t add commercial yeast and our bread is naturally fat free and sugar free! Unlike other imitation sourdough bread, our true sourdough ferments very slowly for over 12 hours at a cool temperature which creates a more complex, distinguished taste. Our unique Stay-Fresh Package keeps our bread Fresh For Months, Not Days.

I guess it just seems too-good-to-be-true. True sourdough, no commercial yeast, all organic, no fat, no sugar, and can be stored on the shelf for months? Did the world just become magical or is there a catch?

here is the link to their website: http://essentialbaking.com/tag/bake-at-home/

ananda's picture
ananda

I would imagine the packaging will be flushed with CO2 Mylissa20.   This prevents microbial activity as the organisms need oxygen to move around.   It is a common technique used in cake packaging.

Best wishes

Andy

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

Aren't most of the organisms in sourdough able to function aerobically and anaerobically? Maybe just the pathogenic bacteria are aerobic?

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Interesting concept - wonder if they irradiate the bread to extend the shelf life? Has anyone nerved up a buy and taste reveal? 

Wild-Yeast

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

Even though I make my own sourdough, I will probably buy a pack just to see if this is in fact the "real thing." My curiosity has been peaked...

ananda's picture
ananda

Is irradiated food allowed in the US?   Pretty much uniformly banned here in the EU; just the odd exception.

A

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

Of course our food is irradiated! Corporations can make more money that way, and we Americans are apparently content eating very dead food :) (bleh)

gerhard's picture
gerhard

What foods are irradiated?   I find it difficult to believe why are there so many e.coli occurrences in hamburger patties, irradiation would certainly prevent those.  I don't know if it is allowed or not but I don't believe irradiation is in common use in the food processing industry.

Gerhard

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

If it stays "fresh for months" it would seem they've done something to sterilize it. I would have trouble trusting that. But, it claims to be all organic. Perhaps the packaging really is magic! I wouldn't be above trying some of it, if someone else offered me a bite. I have my own sourdough at home, so no motivation to buy this myself.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Might not be gamma radiation. I did a quick search and came up with a company in Texas which has developed a microwave method for food preservation:

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/08/texas-company-claims-new-microwave-keeps-bread-mold-free-for-60-days/

A CO2 soak with a vacuum seal in mylar?..., 

Wild-Yeast

Gail_NK's picture
Gail_NK

I'd like to make a couple of comments on Essential Baking's move to offer "bake your own" sourdough in extended-life packaging.

1. Instead of CO2, a friend of mine packages organic goat milk chevre with a "nitrogen flush" before vacuum sealing to expel all the oxygen - it is a process that is approved for organic products. Perhaps Essential is doing that. Radiation is not an approved process for organic products.

2. At GoodFood World, we profiled Essential Bakery about 18 months ago (http://www.goodfoodworld.com/2012/07/essential-baking-seattles-biggest-small-bakery/), about the time they launched their gluten-free line, and they ventured down this "bake your own" path.

George Pasquale is an amazing baker and a wonderful teacher; at the time he was pondering "how big is big enough?" and I think we see the result here... Essential is continuing to grow and experiment with new products, and I feel it's to the detriment of the brand and the company's core principles.

We used to buy a huge loaf of Pain du George (it was a lovely organic whole grain loaf) every week, but the quality started to slide - mostly not fresh enough, and not quite as flavorful - and I started to bake. Since then, my husband and I have become extremely particular about the bread we buy.

Just about the only bread we'll buy (when I occasionally can't bake enough to keep up) is an amazing sourdough artisan loaf from Macrina Bakery here in Seattle. It's a wonderful flavorful, chewy loaf with a nice crust available at Macrina's bakeries and cafes and Whole Foods. A very close second are breads from Tall Grass Bakery (Seattle), also available at Whole Foods - they use spelt, rye, and whole wheat starters.

All three bakeries buy regional flours, which give the breads a special flavor too.

You might enjoy the pieces we've written about bread and bakeries here: http://www.goodfoodworld.com/bakers-and-baking/

Gail N-K, Co-Publisher
GoodFood World

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

@Gail

Nice coverage and thanks for posting the story. Sourdough must be carefully observed at every step of the process - automation can only go so far before the end product quality suffers. Any indication that they might self correct before they're caught in the "Costco is Us" production?   

Wild-Yeast

P.S. Merry Christmas