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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 12:07 GMT
Quest for fresher soda bread
Dr Gerry O'Brien and Alice Wang are seeking fresher farls
Dr Gerry O'Brien and Alice Wang are seeking fresher farls
Stale soda farls could soon be a thing of the past for hungry Northern Ireland ex-pats.

Researchers at the University of Ulster are examining ways to preserve the traditional foodstuff for export.

Normal preservatives and treatments do not have the same effect on soda farls as on ordinary bread.

Items such as soda farls, wheaten farls and potato bread are firm favourites with Northern Ireland people living abroad.

Now Dr Gerard O'Brien is hoping his formula will give the soda farl a longer shelf life and increase its export potential.

The food science lecturer said a project was under way to establish if a new ethanol vapour-based technology could successfully block processes causing staleness and mould.

It is the soda farl's alkaline nature which inhibits its long-term freshness, but the researchers at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the university's Coleraine campus are looking at a Japanese preservative method.

We are aiming to assist in the making of a product that would have a longer shelf-life
Dr Gerard O'Brien
"We are looking at an active packing technology," said Dr O'Brien.

"Active packaging for food-stuffs means, for example, the use of a sachet or device inside the packaging which may mop up anything undesirable in the food atmosphere, or may mop up oxygen.

"Ethanol seem to have the advantage that it slows down staling - and also slows down mould growth. What we are looking at is a non-contact technology in which the ethanol does not become part of the ingredients of the recipe.

"We are aiming to assist in the making of a product that would have a longer shelf-life, which would have fewer additives, and which would enable the export trade to do more business."




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