Many Japanese people enjoy eating fluffy, soft, and chewy white milk bread, known as 食パン shokupan, baked into square loaves.
Crusted bread lovers do exist but the prevailing perception is that crusts aren't as tasty as the bread inside. This could be a remnant from the days when bread crusts were harder, but this perception has remained and shops all over Japan continue to do this since it corresponds to an expectation that still exists among customers.
Although some companies, like Yamazaki Baking Co Ltd, who makes the above-mentioned Lunch Pack series, give crusts to farmers to use in animal feed and reuse them in other baked goods, not all companies do the same and the practice of removing crusts invariably results in food waste.
But what if the crusts were just as tasty as the bread inside and didn't need to be removed?
This was the concept behind a new type of shokupan bread developed by The Imperial Hotel Co Ltd.
The hotel used to cut off crusts when serving sandwiches, but from October 1, they will begin selling sandwiches made with this new bread, crusts intact. The sandwiches will be available at the Gargantua Delicatessen, a luxury bakery that has been serving hotel guests and the local community since 1971.
Tokyo Chef Sugimoto, who has been actively promoting the U.N.'s sustainable development goals through food, took the lead in developing a new concept: instead of thinking of a way to recycle the cut-off bread crusts, he decided to develop a bread that would not be discarded. After about six months of trial and error, the team came up with "white bread with a new texture" that eliminates the need for cutting off and discarding crusts.
The newly developed bread is baked slowly at a lower temperature than conventional shokupan bread, resulting in a more moist texture, and is soft and white all the way to the crusts.
In addition to the white bread, yellow bread made with carrot puree will also be available.
The company will gradually upgrade its production facilities to expand the use of this bread to sandwiches served in the Imperial Hotel's restaurants and at banquets, eliminating all crust-related food loss by the end of fiscal year 2023.
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