I am a producer of traditional biscuits made in my country, they consist of a soft dough with about 16% water and 4% fat, a mixture of 2% sunflower oil and 2% palm oil and a layer of fondant on top. All production is traditional and handmade. We do not use any technological systems. I wanted your help to solve the mold problem in the product as I currently do the production in a traditional way and do not use additives. The longevity of my product depends a lot on atmospheric conditions. During summer season the product endures from 4-6 weeks, while during the winter maximum 8 weeks after and if there is no mold it loses its taste and strengthens. I really need your help to make the product durable for at least 6 months to resist mold as well to preserve softness and taste.
I want to emphasize that I have a problem with mold both in the dough and in the fondant.
I would greatly appreciate your advice.
As you might be aware (or check the articles on this range: https://www.biscuitpeople.com/magazine/post/shelf-life-introduction) there can be numerous causes of this. In order to understand this better we would require to understand your formulation, your processing conditions, bakeloss, ingredient spec, etc.
However if you'r not using either humectants (such as sorbitol, glycerol) or preservatives(such as sorbates, propionates), this could be your quick fix. Otherwise some consulting/ consultant with whom you'd want to share the details mentioned, can help you out.
It would be highly recommended to measure the physicochemical properties of your product and more specifically Moisture Content, Water Activity and PH.
Based on the specific measurements, having an idea of your formulation extremely functional ingredients can be recommended, in combination with conventional preservatives which may be used in order to prevent mould growth.
In case relevant Consulting Services would be needed you may contact our firm selecting Sevastos Bakery & Food in the current website.
Bakery & Food Consultant
Sevastos Bakery & Food
Dear Xhuljano , you are saying that %16 water in a recipe ! That is almost impossible because of usaful media for the microorganisms . What actually molds require in a organic media is water and sugar and air and suitable pH ( alkaline base) . As per your recipe ratios it looks your water moisture is higher than %17-18 and water activity is higher than 0.78 . To prevent your problem
1- faster cooking to create thicker and cooked crust , as creating barrier (traditional )
2- to use preservative combinations
It may be impossible to assure mold-free contamination for your product, without knowing more detais on environment , pH, cooling time, water activity, etc. Many products get contaminated during cooling. But follow this steps:
Be sure to work with max 0.75% water activity, lower if possible. It is mandtory to measure water activity, not only moisture, because moisture is not related with water-binding and free water concepts. There are many ingredients that act as water binding agents, such as polyosl: glycerol, propylene glycol, sorbitol. Even glucose and inverted sugar can help (less than the polyols) on this aspect. Be warned that they may change your product texture
Try to lower your product pH below 7.0. This is easier with citric or fruit flavored skus. Difficult for chocolate or vanilla.
Be sure to limit dough mixing area from baking and cooling areas, trought physical barriers (walls, doors). I cannot empathize how this is important. You should assure that no flour or other powder ingredient particles from mixing area get in contact with the product after it exits the oven. The same is valid for cardboard box area, since dust or small particles from boxes will also serve as contamination vehicle.
If alcohol is a possibility for you as a conservative, an alcohol spray after cooling can mitigate mold growth during storage and transport (but will not eliminate contamination)
Low temperature and, if possible low RH in storage environment.
Following parameters are necessary to avoid mold growth and product shelf life.
1. Measuring water activity
2. Take suitable steps to bring water activity to 0.75
3. Cleanliness and hygiene of the production area
4. if possible keeping the area sterile with AHU with hepa filers
5. workers hygiene practices
6. Suitable packaging materials and sealing integrity.
7. Before packaging if possible give uvlight treatment.
8. Pack with nitrogen also you can explore.
If you look into the above listed problems.
Control water content in your product from baking, your water content in final product must be within 2% at this water % of 16% your product life would be same as you described.
Try using sodium propionate in your product it will retard fungal growth.
Check microbial load of ingredients specially water.
Pack your product immediately within 15-20 mints after proper cooling and ensure product is cool when packed i doubt may be moisture retain due to improper cooling and that deteriorate the product with mold growth. Thanks
Dear Mr. Xhuljano,
If you desire a 6 months shelf life product, you will need to avoid mold growth but also look at the texture of your product. The whole task requires a poll of solutions. We need to know if the product's profile allows the use of additives or not, and, which solutions are available at your place of production, in the adequate purchasing volume. If you would like to exchange some more information on it, please, just let me know. My regards.
You have received a lot of input on the process side.
I would like to give you some ideas what packaging can do for you.
As mentioned, molds need humidity and sugar to grow. There is a growth inhibitor besides additives, that is CO2. If you pack your product in a modified atmosphere you can reduce the mold growth, and thus increase the shelf life of your product. Important is not so much the absence of Oxygen. Please do not forget, that there is Oxygen in the product itself. The presence of CO2 is more important. CO2 is a poison and kills many life forms or stop their growth.
The package must be hermetically sealed and the packaging material must have sufficient barrier against O2 and CO2.
If your product allows for the additional cost of such packaging, you should discuss this with your supplier of packaging material and check what you can do on the packaging side.
If you want to investigate this road, I can help you, but I do need additional information
Jacob van Kogelenberg