can you buy "preservatives" for home cooked pastry? how can we learn about them?

I have read that the reason why commercially sold bread and pastry lasts relatively long time is that it has “preservatives”. People who write about this seem just as unwilling to discuss the specifics as the ancient Jews to indicate the name of “baal” deities of nearby pagans. Thou shall not go a-whoring after the chemical preservatives, I guess…

Well, so can I just go to the grocery store and buy this stuff to use with home-cooked pastry so that it too would last longer? Which one should I buy? Where can I learn more about this?

Well, store-bought pastry has no preservatives. Just look at the label. Semolina flour and vitamins.

Edit: That’s pastry, not pasta.


Well, to start with, you want to know what to buy. Wikipedia can help you here:

You want to know where to buy them. That’s a little trickier, you may be able to get them at bakery supply stores or other restaurant supply stores, if you can find them locally.

You want to know what each one does, Wikipedia can help, but I’ve heard of a few, so I can give you the 2 cent description. BHA and BHT, for example, are antioxidants, that is they oxidize so easily, they protect fats from oxidizing, and ending up tasting rancid. Propionate inhibits some molds, benzoate inhibits some bacteria.

I’m guessing you want exact amounts of what to use and when. I don’t think you’re going to find that online. Maybe you can find some general info in a university level Food Science textbook, but the more specific the information you need, the more complicated it will be, and the more background information you’ll need.

Basically, if you needed it, you’d know everything there is to know already. These chemicals are used in vanishingly small traces. Maybe mixed in with the flour in mg preservative to 50 lb flour. You may not be able to use them properly on your own.

The only reason preservatives are needed is the time between manufacture and consumption which can be days or weeks.

The time gap for home-made would only be minutes. :smiley:

The best preservatives I use for bread and pastries is the freezer. We bake cookies and bread regularly in a bread machine. Freezes great and last for weeks.

Sourdough has a natural preservative.

This is correct. The amounts of BHA or BHT being added to an industrial sized batch of dough would be a little scoop like a quarter cup added to 2000 lbs.

These are some fairly nasty things in their pure form and you won’t be able to get the very small amount blended into your homemade pastry safely. And why would you want to? Like I said, they are nasty, you might end up poisoning yourself.

ok, so based on comments of Arkcon and Dallas Jones it sounds like a major factor preventing the use of preservatives by regular people in their own cooking is that at present nobody sells them in dosages/concentrations that would be appropriate to the typical amount of dough people deal with in the kitchen. So, conceivably, if “Preservatives to the People Ltd” were to sell them in “sufficient for one pound of white flour” doses, then the problem would go away, right?

Given the precise ratios needed, the best way they could do this would be to sell whole bags of flour with preservatives pre-mixed. That way, nobody is attempting to read a milligram scale for the first time in the process of mixing potentially toxic substances into something they intend to eat.

Yes, now you are on the right track. Premix blending is a big business. I am mostly familiar with the animal feed industry but the standards and process is much the same for human food.

A premix blending company takes the raw, concentrated ingredient and uses what is called a ‘carrier’ to blend the product down to a usable level. This is the way that vitamins are added to feed and food. In their pure form they are very expensive and sometimes dangerous to handle and getting a small ingredient blended evenly is a problem. Better to add a larger amount of a diluted premix.

A premix blender adds the preservatives or vitamins or whatever, to an inert carrier such as ordinary flour or bentonite, maybe rice hulls, something cheap. This gives you a dilute product that can be worked with on a practical level and allows for more consistant blending.

When you read the lable on a food item and see the various minor ingredients like folic acid, niacin, BHA, vitamin C, etc. these are all being delivered in a custom blended premix made for the manufacturer. The manufacturer is not trying to handle these micro ingredients one at a time. It is also cheaper to have the vitamin and antioxident package blended into a premix than to deal with them on an individual basis.

One could sell them in an inert carrier (like flour), at concentrations where 1 tsp equals a standard bread dose.
ETA: or what Dallas Jones said.

Baking is not the exact science people make it out to be. Hell you could make a 1000page cookbook just for chocolate chip cookies. With varying amounts of soda or powder or sugar. On And on. And most of them would male a great cookie.

For the most part. Adding more butter/shortening/fat will not harm most baked goods including breads. The fats seem to add a lot of stability and shelf life. When selling wholesale goods I often up the fat in my recipies to add shelf life.

yep, that’s exactly what I meant. Sell this stuff so diluted that for the end-user it’s a matter of “put in a table spoon of magic powder per pound of flour, add some water and thoroughly mix”.