Understanding Calcium Propionate

by Masda Chemical on Jan 30 , 2024

What is Calcium Propionate?

Calcium propionate is a food preservative that forms an environment that prevents mould and aerobic bacteria growth. As such, it can prolong the lifespan of baked foods significantly. Calcium propionate is one of the longest-standing food preservatives of modern times. It was first discovered in 1906 and has been used on a mass scale since the 1930s. It's primarily marketed as a preservative for baked foods. However, it's suitable - but less so than some other alternatives - for use in different types of food, from cheeses to gelatins and puddings.

Characteristics and Uses of Calcium Propionate

Calcium propionate is produced when propionic acid is neutralised with calcium hydroxide. It functions by inhibiting the growth of aerobic microbe cells within the food. The effects of calcium propionate react differently around various pH levels. At pH ranges higher than 5.5 - its optimal pH level, it becomes less effective, requiring as much as a 500-fold increase to remain active enough to preserve food. As such, beyond its optimal pH level, it becomes a less preferred preservative than alternatives such as benzoic or sorbic acid salts. Also, calcium propionate is the preferred preservative for bread and rolls because it doesn't interact with yeast. But if used excessively in cake, it can disrupt its leavening process. Hence, it's mostly ideal for bread and rolls but not cakes. Calcium Propionate is often used to prevent mould growth in bread. The ingredient is added during the dough phase at optimal pH levels. The quantity needed to use depends on the duration required for the food's shelf-life. The recommended usage is 0.1-0.3% of the dry four weight. In some jurisdictions, this recommended rate is legally enforceable. In the right measures, calcium propionate is ideal for food besides baked goods, including cheeses, confections, fillings, jams, gelatins, and jellies.