The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Confession is good for the soul

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Confession is good for the soul

Somewhere I heard that confession is good for character building and I'm sure I could use some of that. So here is a picture of what was a very nice loaf of NY Jewish Rye that was subjected to one of my harebrained ideas.

Rye cressants
Rye crescents

As the older members may know, I have a family member stationed in Afghanistan doing his 4th tour  with the Army. I send him care packages from time to time to improve his meal plan and it is this I am working on. I recently sent him a microwave oven and a big box of popcorn and a way to power the oven. This time my intention is to send a ham and cheese on rye sandwich for the outfit (10 men).I am confident the smoked ham will be safe during the 2 week trip to the middle East in the cry-o-vac packages the butcher uses. I have sent meat before and it's always good even in the heat of the desert after 2 long weeks. I thought that if I froze the bread it would stand up to the vacuum and not be crushed like a marshmallow as the air is pulled out of the bag. At first it looked good. When it started to thaw things started to get ugly. First the bottom caved in then it got shrunk up and raisin like. The crumb (boy that's a stretch) is solid.

So if you have ever wondered what the food saver would do to your bread, now we know what I should have guessed before hand. Back to the drawing board.

Eric

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Eric,

I feel for you. I've experimented with some vacuum packing equipment with a friend of mine. Some things work like a charm, others..., not so good. Darn, but at least you gave me a good laugh - sorry, but it's a funny one. If you figure out a good way, I'd be curious what ends up working.

Bill

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Or toast it?  Does it remain "compact?"  Does look like bark off a hollow log...   Try nuking a piece.   The heat might relax it, and maybe, just maybe, it has a memory....

Mini O

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mini, that sounds like an old B movie where the guy is dead at a young age and the Mother is shaking him saying "wake up you can't be dead".  My wife suggested shaving it thinly and baking "Rye Chips".

At the moment I'm busy trying to re-create 4 loaves of bread so I can get this box out of here. Sour Rey has a reputation for being able to sit on the counter for a week or longer. Around here good bread never lasts that long so I don't have any experience in this area. I have bought Rye from Otto's in Chicago in a store in Milwaukee that was at least a week old and it was pretty good.

I'm hoping the acidity of the sour component will protect the bread from mold for two weeks. This time of year it will be in cool or cold environment while it waits for the next plane in California, Kuwait and Afghanistan (I think that's the route they take). I'll pack them in a loose plastic bag and they will be fine I'm sure. A few seconds in the Nuke oven and they will be as good as new. Or--- they will have some nice smoked ham with cheese and pickles!

 These guys have been eating MRE's in the field for 4 years with only occasional breaks back to the world. The nature of his unit dictates that they are way out there on the edge. When I heard they had 220 power at the forward base I was overjoyed. Now they have a 220/110 power converter and a few things to help make the daily meals better.

Bill, thanks it is funny and I always enjoy having a good chuckle at myself. The machine we used is a serious commercial vac-u-pac unit. They ship meat all over the world for the Navy without any trouble. The process is approved for 4 weeks at room temp and 8 weeks refrigerated. My little food saver at home is a joke compared to what this thing does. As I said above, I selected Sour Rye because of it's reputation for long shelf life. Without adding preservatives in the dough I don't know what else to do. I know that after the holidays the mail delivery volume slows down and sometimes the shipments get there in a week. Any ideas from your end? I'd hate to have to use a cyber knife on the mold but hey, anythings possible right?

Eric

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks for your thoughts Mini. I'm afraid there isn't any saving that batch. You are right, there are lots of things that do have memory but sadly, bread dough isn't on that list.

BTW those spices are just outstanding. I haven't been able to find a US source yet but I'm looking. I'm going to take the open bottle to Penzies to see if I can interest them in a new spice for their product line.

Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

into new loaves....ashes to ashes, dust to dust, crumb to crumb. Chop some of it up into little pieces and soak it (soaker) and then add to a white loaf. If I crumble a one kilo loaf and mix it with more ingredients, I come out with 3 loaves. Something to think about... don't have to waste any spice that way. If that's too much bread at one time, freeze the wrinkle loaf and crumble later, freezing tends to help crumble loaves too.

Mini O

When would you like the next spice shipment?  It really can't be too hard to make...  you will have to crush the seeds, like in a mill or blender.  Come on, you can do it.  Maybe even start a new company on the side.  ??? 

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi Eric,

Let's look at the bright side - it's pretty cool/cold over on this side of the world too, so I think the bread will last no matter how you pack it.

If the vac - u - pac unit is commercial then I imagine you can adjust the amount of suction. If you lower it then you won't have quite the same keeping qualities but at least it will still look like bread and not have all the air sucked out. Unless the product is relatively solid, it can get really squished from those machines!

Most likely he'll be delighted to receive the bread no matter what condition it's in :-)

L_M

leemid's picture
leemid

I too got a good laugh, thanks. But I commend you for your extra effort to support the troops.

I suggest you go to the mall and search the container stores for hard plastic boxes like these here: http://www.tapplastics.com/shop/product.php?pid=222&PHPSESSID=200801110821221726364828 . Those are the wrong size but you get the drift. The idea is that putting soft items in hard boxes allows them to be sucked down without collapsing. What I can't predict is if they will expand... If it were me, I would round the edges and corners to keep the shrink wrap from puncturing. Just a few thoughts.

I have experience with really sour rye keeping for a long time. I often am the only one who eats my sour rye so it lasts longer than a week at room temp. Not only does it NEVER mold but it keeps it's taste and moisture. It is a great long lasting bread.

That's my story,

Lee 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Lee, I hope you are right about that. I am placing a spare loaf in a plastic bag on the counter to be my control so I know how it fares. I don't really expect it to mold but I am wondering if I should vent the bag slightly. What do you think? If I place them in a zip lock with most of the air pushed out, that would be the best environment? I know French bread is better in a paper bag for a few days and plastic helps soften the crust. With Rye bread you aren't trying to keep the crispy crust.

 I think the flavor improves with a few days age on my formula. Especially since I started using a blend of spices that a dear friend in Austria sent me. About the second day the anise and cardamon start to become evident in the aroma along with the caraway. This is really great tasting bread.

These guys will be grinning from ear to ear chowing down on a hot ham and cheese sitting in their fox hole dodging rockets.

Eric

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Just be sure your loaves have thoroughly cooled before going in the plastic bags.  They will mold if still warm.

Thanks for the great laughs!  Before I read the text, I was really wondering how you got that unique ruffled arc!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks KipperCat, that bears remembering. I'll take care to get them cool. I'm just about to turn on the oven at midnight so they should be ready by morning.
Thanks for that thought KC.

Eric

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

As for the shipping method of your awesome breads though. 

I have a couple square cardboard boxes that are lined with one inch styrafoam, with a pop in lid for shipping food items. Bacisally a shipping cooler.  What if you took one of these, placed your breads in there sealed in a bag, and placed a couple blocks of dry ice in there, sealed in plastic.  Do you think the dry ice would last?  I know it evaporates in air, but how long do you think it would hold out sealed in plastic inside of this shipping style cooler?  I dont know, but its a thought.

Its also great of you Eric to be doing this for these folks, mre's stink.  They are a little better now than they were years ago, but the only thing I liked in the newer ones was the baby bottle of tabasco sauce, and the freeze dried strawberries.

Good luck, and send your family member my wishes for his safety.

TT

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks TT, I figured you would appreciate the humor in this. I don't think dry ice would be much help. It only lasts for a couple days and this is usually a 2 week trip. I think the bread will be ok if it's bagged right and sour rye holds up better than most.

I have a bad memory of MRE's myself and I was only out based for short periods. My cuz is way out there on the Pakistan border in the mountains. It's a tough life out there.

Eric

T4tigger's picture
T4tigger

I've always been told that MRE stood for Meals Rarely Edible 

Sorry about your vacuum mishap!   If you do find a way to successfully send bread to Afghanistan, let us know.  I have a couple of friends in Baghdad and Kuwait that I'd love to send home made bread to.

A big thank you to your family member for being willing to go into harm's way for the rest of us!