The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Water Activity

Bread Valley's picture
Bread Valley

Water Activity

I currently have a home-based specialty bakery based off my grandmother's bread recipe. I use a liquid starter and the result is a soft sweet bread with a thin crust on the top but the bottom is fairly soft. I'm working on a business plan to start a wholesale bakery (not in my home).

I had my bread tested and it has a water activity level between .92 and .94.  I understand that bread with water activity above .85 has to be sold refrigerated or with preservatives. Everything I've read says the standard water activity level for bread is .95. If this is so, how do bakeries or anyone sell fresh preservative-free, non-refrigerated bread? I am going to try to bake my bread at a lower temp for longer time to see if this lowers the water activity level. I don't want to use preservatives or refrigerate it because refrigeration causes staling. Can anyone PLEASE help??? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

briefly here:

but I don't think you want to dry out bread with slow and longer bakes,  that would also make it stale.    

Water activity regulation?  Now I'm really curious....  What are the temperature restrictions on refrigeration?


bradydecagon's picture

Your correct that the water activity of bread is high enough to support bacterial growth and most products with water activities higher than 0.85 are considered potentially hazardous. However, the FDA has special designations for products that are baked to sterilization temperatures and then packaged. These types of products are considered shelf stable and include breads, as long as there are not other ingredients such as cheeses. For more information, go to

Brady Carter

Decagon Devices

Bread Valley's picture
Bread Valley

Thank you so much Brady! I've been looking for this information for a while. Thank you again!