How To Detect Alum In Bread is being discussed.The use of alum in bread is expressly prohibited by Act of Parliament,but is still very common.There can be no doubt about the ill effects of it. It is my deliberate opinion, says Dr. Gibbon, that although alum is not a poison, yet that its use in the manufacture of bread is injurious to health, and concurs, indirectly, with other things, in increasing mortality, especially of young children,the staple article of whose dietary is bread.
The bakers use alum because it increases the whiteness of bread and enables them to use an inferior flour.
It also imparts to the loaf a neatness and lightness which, when made Of inferior material, it can never obtain
The chemical action of alum on moistened flour is analogous to tanning. It destroys in a considerable degree its nutritiousness. It converts the gluten of the flour into a kind of tough tenacious wash-leather, difficult
of digestion. This gives the dough a firmness, and enables it to retain the thousands of little air-bubbles given off
by the yeast, which constitute in it an apparent lightness.
Hence flour so bad that it will not rise may be made to rise by means of alum. Another object in the use of alum is, that it preserves the upright form of the loaves,and enables them, as the baker expresses it, to part clean when the batch comes out of the oven.
In the absence of chemical analysis, the unplumbed loaf may be distinguished from the alumed one by these characteristics.It is not so white ; it is not so bulky ;it is not so symmetrical; it bites shorter;and, above all, it is free from the sour taste which invariably attends the presence of alum. There is also another test which is very important: alumed bread a day or two old, crumbles with the greatest facility; whereas, alumed bread, however old, crumbles with difficulty.
Of course, nothing short of a scientific analysis can speak positively as to the presence of alum in bread, but the hint we have here given ought to be quite enough to make us suspect the use of it, and to reject loaves which are so characterized.