When I was a child growing up, it was easy to tell if bread was fresh. If your mom made it, the bread was so fresh that it was probably warm from the oven. At the grocery store, all it took was one good squeeze to know if that spongy white bread was a fresh loaf. When the loaf had a bit of give to it, yet rebounded right back, it was fresh. You could buy it with confidence. Now, with all of the varieties of bread, including artisan breads, how is a sandwich lover going to know if it is a fresh loaf? The process is not as hard as you might think.
If you are buying the store’s bakery bread, look on the label for a date. Most labels have a “sell by” date or a date that shows when the product was made. On buns, if the tops are smooth, it is probably from that day’s bake. It is also easy to ask the baker. They are quite willing to discuss the delicious loaves that they are selling. Just ask.
What about mass-produced commercial breads? Not all of them are made to yield to a hearty squeeze. How do you know when they are fresh? Take a look at the twist tie or plastic end tag. The color of the closure can help you determine how fresh those loaves are.
Commercial bakeries deliver their breads to the stores five days a week. Nobody wants to buy a stale loaf of bread, and bakeries want to please their sandwich lovers. The drivers need a quick and easy way to rotate stock. So, they use color coding on the wrapper closures to make it easier for the drivers to pull the older loaves off of the shelves. The colors tell the drivers which days the loaves were delivered to the stores.
Here is the code:
You might think that would be hard to remember, but it isn’t. First, you could invent a mnemonic device for remembering—kind of like “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” in math class. Do your creative best! While I might say something like, “Bread’s great really warm yeasty,” does that work for you? Is the whole mnemonic device thing kind of a pain? Well, it must not have been worth the trouble to think up something like that for the drivers. Those clever bakers came up with something easier than a memory device. Just remember your ABCs. The colors are in alphabetical order! Take another look at the code. Does it make more sense now that you know the secret of the codes?
When you go to the store on Saturday and reach for a loaf, what color would you look for on a twist tie? Green or yellow might both be on the shelves. If you are looking for fresh bread for that special sandwich, go for the yellow! Use your color code ABCs instead of a squeeze!