Friday, January 30, 2009

Exsqueeze me, but you're ruining the bread.

Dear Tricia, Why does my husband molest the bread when we go to the store? Can he really tell freshness just by squeezing it? Does Mrs Baird's know about this?

You know what I call a man who likes to molest young loaves of bread? A breadophile. Get it? Ha ha ha! Like a pedophile but with bread? Ha ha ha... ha ha. Ha. OK, I'm fully aware that I'm the only one laughing, but I don't care. It happens all the time.
I'm sorry to inform you, but squeezing the bread will not be an indicator of the freshness. When you look at the ingredient labels on most loaves of bread in your regular grocery store (not so much in a health food store where breads aren't packed with additives), you'll notice that 2 of the first 5 ingredients are usually high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Along with making your bread taste better, sugar and corn syrup are natural preservatives to keep the bread fresher longer. After that, the other "less than 2% of the following ingredients" that are always listed are also preservatives to keep it fresh. If there are ways to tell one loaf of bread is fresher than another, squeezing it isn't the most reliable way, especially when different brands use different recipes and ingredients. If someone tries to tell you that their bread is fresher because its softer, you can tell them to suck it. You could go to Wal-Mart, buy a loaf of Iron Kids bread and sure, its soft. But it also has milk, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup in it and could have been on the shelf for 5 days. Then I could bake you a loaf of bread at home that just has flour, yeast, salt, and water in it. I could give it to you an hour after its baked, but it won't be as soft. They're different recipes, with different ingredients. But which one is fresher? (I'll give you a hint. My bread is so fresh and so clean clean.)
The bakeries that sell bread in your average grocery store make massive amounts of bread. There's a whole aisle dedicated to it, so those guys have mass production, product consistency, and freshness down pat. It's pretty hard for you to find a stale loaf. If there are randomly stale loaves of bread that snuck into the freshies, its most likely not their fault. A grocery stocker probably just didn't rotate the bread correctly. If you're familiar with my other posts, you understand when I tell you that he's probably the same guy who drops the kiwis and pears in the produce department.
So squeezing the bread won't tell you its fresh. It just tells you that your husband likes squeezing loaves of bread. And that's alright. I happen to like slapping raw bread dough like its a butt cheek.
To find the freshest of the loaves on the shelf, just reach for the loaves on the back of the shelf. They always stock the new bread towards the back so that they can sell the older stuff first. Now you can tell your husband that his squeezing the bread is for pleasure, not business. And that's okay too. I could think of much worse things to squeeze.


The Social Utilitarian said...

Great post Tricia! Do you ever wonder how different the rest of our lives will be having worked at health food stores? You start talking about grocery stockers improperly rotating product and I think of Whole Foods "job dialogs" and guys like our old buddy Brian Gibbons.

Tricia Reisch said...

Ugh... "job dialog" is like the worst corporate vocabulary word ever. I hate that I know the lingo.