Why are thousands of delicious crumpets thrown in the bin every day in the uk even before they hit supermarket shelves?
Crumpets are a quintessentially British teatime treat, but why are so many of them not making it as far as the supermarket shelves?
Distinguishable by its circular shape, light fluffy texture and cratered surface, the humble crumpet, it seems, is held to high aesthetic standards. And, it is not alone, around 24 million pieces of freshly baked bread are wasted in the UK every day, many of which for not quite being ‘perfect’ enough.
Enter a man who knows a thing or two about crumpets and who wants to put an end to food waste once and for all. Fourth-generation baker, James Eid, has made it his mission to fight food waste at the point of production, something no one else is doing at scale. Part of Signature Flatbreads, in early 2021 he founded the brand ‘Earth & Wheat’ – the UK’s first ‘wonky bread’ online subscription model. The mission: - to distribute over produced, ‘wonky’ crumpets and other freshy baked goods, which were due to be binned because of their ‘ugly’ or ‘odd’ appearance.
Since starting the business, James and his team of ‘wonky warriors’ have ‘rescued’ more than five tonnes of bread via the Earth & Wheat online delivery platform. James explains the top five reasons why so many perfectly tasty crumpets are thrown in the bin, and how we can all do our bit for the planet by helping to rescue food waste.
‘Elephant Feet Crumpets’: The imperfect shape and size of ‘elephant feet’ crumpets are caused when batter seeps out and under the crumpet ring mould and resembles an elephant foot when baked.
Destined for the bin? These are thrown away because they’re not appealing to the eye. They are also sometimes a little extra crispy on the thinner edges, however, although these may look wonky, they still taste just great.
‘Blind Crumpets’: The holes in crumpets form when bubbling steam comes through the batter, then sets and forms when baked. When the hot plate isn’t quite a hot enough temperature, the crumpet doesn’t get that instantaneous burst of heat when the batter goes in. Whilst fully cooked and safe to eat, the initial energy which forms the bubbles is lacking, leaving ‘partially blind’ or entirely ‘blind’ crumpets.
Destined for the bin? These are binned because they are deemed unattractive and perhaps denser. A ‘blind’ crumpet is a still delicious snack and should never be wasted.
‘Thin Crumpets’: These are created when there is not enough batter. This can sometimes happen at the beginning or at the end of production when the batter is filling the pipeline, or has just been shut off.
Destined for the bin? As you probably guessed, these slimmer snacks are deemed too thin for consumption, and are thrown away but with a good helping of butter, they still make a delicious afternoon tea treat.
Undercooked /Overcooked: The stages of baking are typically threefold. Rise, set, colour. With crumpets, the final stage is important, and this is where they are gently toasted before packing. Glowing browned bread sells better than pale bread. Occasionally crumpets are not quite toasted enough and appear under-coloured to the eye.
Destined for the bin? Crumpets which are under-toasted are shown the bin due to appearance even though they are perfectly cooked and tasty. Overtoasted crumpets, conversely, can appear overcooked, but are no less flavoursome.
For a Fresher Future
Around 24 million pieces of bread are wasted in the UK every day. Earth & Wheat boxes are 100 percent biodegradable and each box rescues 3,053 grams of CO2 which would otherwise have been wasted during production. The food energy saved from going to waste in a weekly subscription, for just one year, is enough to power electricity in your home for 47 days. Each box you rescue helps to save our planet, also rescuing around 3,240 litres of fresh water.
The Earth & Wheat bread box includes a random and mixed variety of crumpets, tortillas, pittas, focaccia and pancakes. Customers can subscribe at earthandwheat.com on a weekly or fortnightly basis for £6.99, including fresh delivery. Earth & Wheat has pledged that for every box ordered, one meal’s worth of bread will be donated to food charities across the UK to fight food poverty. Around 5,000 meals have been donated so far to food banks.
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