The majority of consumers around the world still prefer fresh food to the frozen or packaged variety. But how do you define fresh? In agriculture, fresh means recently harvested or unprocessed. In a supermarket, it might mean a minimum of time between preparation and consumption. A bakery item is fresh if it recently came out of the oven, or has the same characteristics as a directly processed product: soft, not dry, with a crispy crust where appropriate, and with a good taste and aroma. People regard frozen food as further away from its original source. However, the main concern should not be the loss of freshness itself, but losing the characteristics of freshness like taste and texture. The question should be: does this food taste as good as it possibly could?
The right freezing technology can provide the same characteristics as a directly processed product, but bakers are often reluctant to use it. A clever baker can be proud to use the best technology available, making top-quality products without the need to add preservatives for convenience and availability. Improving the perception of freshness is not about hiding the fact that bread was baked from a parbaked or frozen dough. It’s about informing the consumer properly and showing that you can provide fresh-quality products all day.
Frozen: better than fresh? Consumers prefer parbaked. The majority of consumers say they prefer baked goods that are directly processed on the spot. However, during a test we got people to taste three different baguettes, without telling them how each had been made: one directly processed, one made from frozen dough, and one parbaked frozen intermediate. By far the most popular baguette was the parbaked one, which had been baked most recently.
Interestingly, when the participants were told how the baguettes had been prepared, and thus where faced to the fact they liked the freshness of the Parbaked the most, a large proportion of consumers made a positive mind shift towards the frozen bread method. This was because they realized that the baked-off baguette tasted fresh because it had come most recently from the oven and was available throughout the day. This shows that retailers, foodservice operators and artisans alike should focus primarily on fresh product-qualities, while being open about the use of freezing technologies.
In 1982 Puratos launched the first improver for frozen dough. We understand the challenges facing bakers, are always looking for innovations to support them, and believe that freezing is a great way to ensure fresh quality. Our solutions combine technology, recipe and process expertise to provide total convenience for our customers.