Home Project Ideas Project Guide Ask An Expert Blog Careers Teachers Parents Students

What's the Best Way to Guarantee Fresh Bread? *

Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Have you ever bitten into a slice of bread only to find that it no longer seems fresh? Instead, it has the firm, undesirable texture that comes about when the bread is going stale. Chemically, what happens during the staling process? Can it be reversed (at least temporarily)? Do some background research to answer these questions and then apply those answers to one (or more) of the following experiments to find the optimal state to keep your bread fresh.

Experiment 1: What Temperature Keeps Bread Fresh the Longest?
Take slices of bread from the center of a single loaf and package the slices in their own individual plastic baggies. Put some of the packaged slices in the freezer, some in the refrigerator, and some at room temperature. Design an experiment to determine at which storage temperature the bread goes stale first. Hint: You'll have to come up with a way to reliably evaluate when a slice of bread is stale.

Experiment 2: Do All Types of Bread Go Stale at the Same Time?
Under identical storage conditions, compare how long it takes different kinds of bread to go stale. You can choose among heavy breads, light breads, mass-produced, and local bakery breads. Warning: This can be tricky! Before you start, you need to design a way to measure whether two very different kinds of bread have the same degree of staleness. Be sure to store the different breads in identical conditions.

Experiment 3: How Effective is an Emulsifier at Keeping Bread Fresh?
Manufacturers of most "mass-produced" bread incorporate emulsifiers in their recipes to increase the shelf-life of bread before it goes stale. Buttermilk and egg yolks in a homemade bread recipe can have the same effect. Perform background research to learn how emulsifiers work and identify specific ones. Using your background research, read the ingredients label of different varieties of bread to determine whether or not they contain emulsifiers. Or even better, you can make bread from scratch, with and without emulsifiers, but otherwise the same. (Making your own enables a better experiment because store-bought breads might differ in more than just the emulsifiers.) Compare how long it takes bread with and without emulsifiers to go stale. Be sure to store the different breads in identical conditions.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.


Last edit date: 2012-12-07

Bibliography

  • McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004. pp. 541-542.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Scientists inspecting special corn oil

Food Scientist or Technologist

There is a fraction of the world's population that doesn't have enough to eat or doesn't have access to food that is nutritionally rich. Food scientists or technologists work to find new sources of food that have the right nutrition levels and that are safe for human consumption. In fact, our nation's food supply depends on food scientists and technologists that test and develop foods that meet and exceed government food safety standards. If you are interested in combining biology, chemistry, and the knowledge that you are helping people, then a career as a food scientist or technologist could be a great choice for you! Read more
Picture of chemist

Chemist

Everything in the environment, whether naturally occurring or of human design, is composed of chemicals. Chemists search for and use new knowledge about chemicals to develop new processes or products. Read more
food science technician checking an egg

Food Science Technician

Good taste, texture, quality, and safety are all very important in the food industry. Food science technicians test and catalog the physical and chemical properties of food to help ensure these aspects. Read more
female chemical technician monitoring experiment

Chemical Technician

The role that the chemical technician plays is the backbone of every chemical, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical manufacturing operation. Chemical technicians conduct experiments, record data, and help to implement new processes and procedures in the laboratory. If you enjoy hands-on work, then you might be interested in the career of a chemical technician. Read more