Moldy bread is a curse to bakers and consumers — a waste of both food and money. Spanish scientists have developed new a approach to packaging bread with a paper containing cinnamon oil based on evidence that cinnamon fights mold. They report that baked goods stay fresher in the packaging by as much as ten days longer.Researchers have tried various strategies for stopping mold from growing in baked goods. They tried using preservatives, sterile packages and UV light but none have been cost-effective enough to implement. The researchers, from the University of Zaragoza, call the cinnamon oil paper ”active packaging” because it goes after mold with antimicrobials.
Besides its aromatic properties and wonderful flavour, cinnamon has long been known to stop food spoilage and mildew. Cinnamon and other spices were used as preservatives by Egyptian embalmers in ancient times. The Spanish scientists capitalized on that same capability to come up with their anti-mold packaging. They claim that by using a wax paper made with 6% cinnamon oil to wrap a bread already tainted with mold, growth was inhibited by 96 percent, prolonging freshness by to ten days. They compared results with tainted bread in plain wax paper where the mold grew at a normal rate.
Cinnamon packaging may also be good for keeping meats, vegetables and fruits fresher longer with the added benefit of being environmentally sound and not posing any health risks associated with chemical preservatives.
The packaging adds a slight cinnamon fragrance to whatever is product it wraps. Surprisingly, the addition of cinnamon to the bread itself was less effective in preserving the bread because the protective compounds were not uniformly released.
Other antimicrobial spices and herbs include cloves, mustard, garlic, allspice and oregano.