Review of Ener-g Foods Gluten-Free Bread Sampler


Who says restrictive diets have to be boring?
They do… and it starts with the mindset that the gluten-free diet is about restriction.

The experiment: After a friend recently mentioned that she liked one of Ener-g foods breads (and I responded negatively), I decided it was not fair of me to criticize a product I had not systematically evaluated recently and set out to design an extremely subjective experiment in order to remedy this situation.

How I selected these products: I ordered the gluten-free bread sampler from the company when making my last gluten-free flour order with Ener-g foods. I do occasionally order flour from them because they offer Bette Hagman’s gluten-free classic flour blend in bulk. *Note that those that are sensitive to coarse grinds of rice flour may prefer to order from other companies like Authentic Foods with a superfine grind. The bread sampler is quite nice in that you get a wide variety of breads to try in individually wrapped packages of two, and it doesn’t break the bank, especially when you consider the threat of wasted money if you order entire loaves that you are unable to finish. If you have tried Ener-g foods breads in the past and think you may like them, I would encourage you to try the sampler in order to establish a favorite.

How I evaluated the Products: I photographed the package, the untoasted bread (when I remembered) and the bread toasted often with butter. I tried every slice with butter and then tried the second slice occasionally with a more flavorful topping when I was inspired to do so. Evaluations are generally made based on how the bread tasted toasted, with butter. I tried them over a period of several weeks, and only tried one type in a given day.

The Winners: Of all the breads I tasted, I liked the Tapioca Loaf and (surprisingly) Corn Loaf best.

The Losers:
I objected to the overpowering taste of preservatives in many of the loafs, as well as their unpalatable texture and flavor. Surprisingly, many of the rice breads fared poorly, and I did not enjoy the raisin bread.

This review is entirely subjective, and you may disagree with my rating system or opinion of various products. I welcome your reviews of individual products and would love to hear about your favorite (or least favorite) Ener-g products.

*At the end of the review I have a philosophical rant/evaluation of Ener-g Foods and the future of gluten-free products.

Product: White Rice Bread *improved*
Initial impression: Looks dense and very stiff. Well preserved.
Toasted: To me smells like the fruit concentrate they use for sweetening, not good. DH says it smells like bread. Crunchy exterior but DH comments “as you chew it it forms into a dough ball in your mouth.” He keeps chewing and chewing the one bite. Acidic, faintly sweet aftertaste that I find disagreeable. DH says “It tastes gluten-free.” I ask him if the bread we make tastes better, and he says “YES.”
Would I order? Absolutely not. I’d rather go without bread than eat that stuff. I think I liked it better before they “improved” it. I used to eat it in high school and it was more neutral in flavor. Now it tastes too healthy, and not in a good, interesting way but in a medical, gluten-free sort of way. Hate the fruit sweetener and would never consider eating the old sponge-textured stuff without toasting.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Relatively crunchy when toasted.
Bad points: Texture, taste, smell.
Rating: 3/10
Would I buy it again? Absolutely, positively not. No comparison for homemade or even Whole Foods’ GF bakehouse bread.

Product: Light White Rice Loaf *improved*
Initial impression: Looks firm and sturdy. Well preserved. Has typical acidic smell of EF products.
Toasted: Toasted quickly, almost burning on the same setting that other breads hadn’t toasted completely at. Very crunchy and powdery in the mouth. Crust is a bit weirdly dry and papery. Tolerable flavor, slightly gritty texture, leaves gummy film on the teeth. One piece is not satisfying, probably because it is light. Faintly sweet, fruity aftertaste.
Would I order? No. Something about the dry, crumbly texture in the mouth just isn’t something I would crave. Flavor isn’t too bad though. Would be ok if I was dieting, I suppose.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Flavor is ok
Bad points I just don’t like something about the dry, powdery texture. I also don’t feel like I ate much of anything after eating two pieces with butter.
Rating: 6/10
Would I buy it again? Probably not. I just don’t think it’s worth the effort to buy and toast- would rather make my own and be satisfied with what I’m eating.

Product: Brown Rice Loaf
Initial impression: Slice looks rather paltry. Brown color, looks healthy. Smells very chemical out of package, not appetizing aroma.
Toasted: Doesn’t get very crunchy. Has a rather neutral texture but is neither springy and spongy nor quite crunchy. I don’t think I like it. I want to like the flavor of the brown rice bread as it smells rather healthy and almost pleasant once toasted. However, something is seriously missing from the flavor. I actually added salt, but that’s not it. Weird flatness in taste- gets sweet as you chew it, in an odd way. Too… vinegary. Needs some other flavor to balance that.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Brown rice base.
Bad points: Texture, taste, smell.
Rating: 3/10
Would I buy it again? Absolutely, positively not. No comparison for homemade or even Whole Foods’ GF bakehouse bread.

Product: Seattle Brown Bread *improved*
Initial impression: An imperfect loaf, with an air bubble in the slice. Seems fragile as I take it out of the package, prone to crumbling.
Toasted: Doesn’t toast to crispiness at first. I probably should have put it in again, but chose to eat it with just one toasting. Very strong chemical flavor. Feels slightly dense and gummy in the mouth with an intense brown rice flavor.
Would I order? Absolutely not. The smell is just too much, and while I could like parts of the brown rice flavor, the preservative vinegar-like taste is just too much for me. I also don’t like the texture.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Brown rice base.
Bad points: Texture, taste, smell.
Rating: 3/10
Would I buy it again? Absolutely, positively not. No comparison for homemade or even Whole Foods’ GF bakehouse bread.

Product: Light Brown Rice Loaf
Initial impression: Large air bubble in one piece of the bread. Light brown color, not especially appetizing in appearance.
Toasted: Gets crunchy on toasting. Initial nice flavor and texture that then leaves you with a rather bitter, sour taste in the mouth that lingers. Light, crunchy texture is initially pleasing but I don’t know if I can deal with the aftertaste. Left with dry crumbs and slight gummy residue in mouth. Tried first piece with butter, second with almond butter. Texture was less pleasing with a nut-butter topping and it seemed way too dry and crumbly. Flavors also clashed somewhat, which is odd.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Brown rice base. Crunch, initial texture.
Bad points: Aftertaste, smell.
Rating: 5/10
Would I buy it again? Afraid not. No comparison for homemade or even Whole Foods’ GF bakehouse bread.

Product: Tapioca Loaf *improved*
Initial impression: Thin slices that look fairly light but stable and with sandwich potential.
Toasted: Smells faintly acidic untoasted. Once toasted, smell is improved and milder, almost like “real” GF bread. Texture is firm without being gummy or too hard.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Neutral Flavor that takes an appropriate back seat to topping. Actually tastes decent just with butter.
Bad points: Hint of vinegar flavor even toasted. Almost too neutral in sandwiches as you can’t really taste anything but the filling.
Rating: 8/10
Would I buy it again? I might buy it if I stopped baking completely or was extremely busy. Tolerable as a toast with butter for mornings on the go. Prefer other options for sandwiches.

Product: Light Tapioca Loaf *improved*
Initial impression: Slice looks rather small and condensed. Smells very chemical out of package, not appetizing aroma.
Toasted: Very strangely crunchy when toasted. Burns easily. Somewhat neutral flavor. Leaves a bit of gumminess in mouth and a not terribly appealing vinegar aftertaste. Might be ok but REALLY Crunchy with sandwich filling.
Good points: Enriched with their thiamin-folic acid blend. If you like crunchy or want bread to fill the role of a cracker, this may be the bread for you. Did I mention it was crunchy?
Bad Points: Somehow one slice just isn’t very satisfying. I don’t feel like I’m really eating BREAD because of the texture, but I seriously doubt I could choke it down microwaved. Don’t like the aftertaste.
Rating: 6/10, deduction mostly for texture
Would I buy it again? No, it just doesn’t fit the bill as a bread for me. Toasted and served with toppings or with dip, maybe it would seem more appropriate. But, I can do better.

Product: Corn Loaf *improved*
Initial impression: Looks light, full of holes, but also delicate. Smells very chemical out of package, not appetizing aroma.
Toasted: Extremely crunchy and light. Less gummy when chewed than white rice bread. Doesn’t taste like corn, or much of anything. Is tolerable slathered in butter. I can’t see it being a good sandwich bread though as it seems a bit too crunchy. Desirable for toast but not for sandwiches.
Good points:only 40 cal/slice. Low protein, and dairy free if that is relevant to you. One of the more pleasant toasts I’ve had by E-Foods so far.
Bad points: Not especially inspiring, either. Perhaps due to low calorie, one slice feels like you haven’t eaten much. Smells awful before toasting, ok after. Those without protein medical issues (and vegetarians like me) actually WANT protein in their bread.
Rating: 7/10
Would I buy it again? No. But it’s one of the few I might have again if it were extremely convenient or free.

Product: Yeast Free Sweet Loaf
Initial impression: Looks light, sweet, and eggy.
Toasted: Like toasted cake, with crunchy edges and a sugary mouth feel. Orange flavor is strong and not unpleasant. Small piece of crust fell off when removing from toaster- probably why they have a toaster warning to “use caution” when removing from toaster. Extremely sweet, relatively light.
Microwaved: Like a dry, warm slice of less than fluffy cake. Less pleasant mouth feel than toasted, but edible.
Good points: Pleasant orange flavor, sugary sweet with none of that wretched fruit sweetener they like so much. dairy free and yeast free for those with dairy and yeast intolerance.
Bad points: A little too sweet to really taste like bread- very cake-like. Surprising amounts of calcium, vitamin C and riboflavin, probably due to the orange juice ingredient
Rating: 6/10
Would I buy it again? Probably not as it is a bit sweet for me and doesn’t taste very bread like.

Product: Raisin Loaf
Initial impression: Brown color with raisins, looks firm with some small air holes.
Toasted: Initial crunch with mildly pleasing brown rice flavor. However, there is also a faintly plastic, faintly sweet underlying flavor that becomes more noticeable as you chew. Raisins are very, very soft and watery. Wondering why it doesn’t have any cinnamon or spice to cut the bland sweetness of the product.
Microwaved: The slightly acidic smell of preservatives was worse this way. Texture was like a microwaved brown sponge. Inedible.
Good points: Has added folate etc. like regular bread. Relatively crunchy when toasted. Has raisins (I guess this is a good point). Not the heaviest bread I’ve ever had.
Bad points: Underlying sweet flavor (perhaps the fruit sweetener) and chemical underlying notes. Revolting when microwaved.
Rating: 3/10
Would I buy it again? Absolutely not. I’d make my own or go without.

My Story and Final Reflections on Ener-g Foods
I can’t remember a time when I was not familiar with Ener-g Foods, a gluten-free company based out of my hometown of Seattle, Washington. For those of you diagnosed in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, you probably shared my experience, as Ener-g was one of the few reliable and competent gluten-free manufacturers at that time. You could find their products in health food stores (in limited variety) but we tended to place orders directly with them on the phone. I grew up on their white rice flour “mix” as well as their white rice flour and brown rice flour. We also must have tried every cookie and bread they introduced, as well as their pizza crust and hamburger and hot dog buns. Growing up in a single-parent household, my Mom didn’t have a lot of time to bake, so these prepared products were a lifesaver. I’m sorry to say that most of them were not however very appetizing. I found a bread or two variety that I could tolerate, and we used them (always, always toasted) for toast and lunch sandwiches. I believe at that time their white rice bread was one of my favorites. The pizza crusts were always oddities, with a crisp texture resembling plaster more than bread, and an impressively inflated price. I assume it was difficult for them to justify the expense of the product line, as demand was limited at first and they did not have wide distribution, and this resulted in the price. I wouldn’t say I liked the flavor or texture, but I liked the novelty of having pizza, so we occasionally splurged. The cookies they make are oddities and are extremely hard and well preserved, but I must have tried every one they had. We even tried some of their specialty items, some more short lived than others. The pound cake (astonishingly still in production) and cinnamon rolls (repulsive sponge-like things, also discontinued years ago) were a bust. The gluten-free donut holes were tolerable microwaved.

Things changed some time in college when I discovered the joys of Bette Hagman’s cookbooks and began trying to make my own bread. Once I did, I realized just how terrible the preservatives and strange flours Ener-g uses in their breads make the bread taste, and I was no longer satisfied with these well preserved but not delicious products. I had no idea before I made my own bread that it could actually be palatable without toasting, as the Ener-g stuff is completely vile and inedible without the crunch a toaster imparts. Quite frankly, I decided that I’d rather go without bread or have it as a rare, freshly made treat than eat that stuff. I used up the last of my Ener-g bread stock in GF stuffings (where you can’t taste it really anyway), and moved on. I still ordered from Ener-g foods occasionally. I’d long given up on their awful cookies and overpriced pizza crust, even before college, but they WERE a safe and reputable place to order gluten-free flours and their Egg Replacer, a popular item with many vegans and gluten-free bakers. I would occasionally try one of their breads in my order, and it generally always reaffirmed my distaste for their processed products. I did entertain brief flirtations with their gourmet crackers (surprisingly tasty, although I ate too many of them and have lost my taste for them), and their gluten-free pretzels. Both were tolerable snacks, if full of a few too many preservatives for my preference.

Given my dislike of Ener-g foods products, I suppose it is a little strange I would write about them in my blog. However, recently an online friend commented that they liked their tapioca loaf, and I thought, you know, maybe I’m being too hard on them. I should give them one more try and perhaps officially review some of their breads, just in case they are hiding some quality gluten-free goods among the unpalatable ones. Despite my strongly critical tone, over the years I’ve had many opportunities to talk to the people that work at the company, and I have genuine fondness for the company and its workers. It’s always been a family business, and I always felt they had excellent customer service and were genuinely nice to their customers. I appreciate these things very much; and I appreciate that they’ve never been plagued with cross contamination issues like some other companies in their early years (for example Bob’s Red Mill, that now uses separate mills for their gluten-free products but which had problems before they made the switch). Safe, truly gluten-free food is something very important. However, over the years I have felt strongly that rather than innovating and using the new gluten-free flours and technologies, Ener-g has stayed rooted in the past and produces food as a medical service that is safe but not exciting, and there seems to be little interest or attention paid to product flavor or texture. As the gluten-free market has expanded and new companies like Whole Foods emerge with lines like their gluten-free bakehouse with products that actually taste good and much more closely resemble “normal” gluten food, I don’t see how Ener-g foods can compete. What I find worst of all is that many newly diagnosed folks get turned off of gluten-free food and lose hope of finding palatable bread when they are only exposed to Ener-g foods’ and other equally uninspired gluten-free companies’ products.

Having lived with Celiac Sprue for 29 years, I have seen many changes in the gluten-free food industry over the years. I am thrilled by the plethora of gluten-free cookbooks rife with truly innovative, delicious, and even occasionally healthy recipes. I love all the companies that work hard on creating food that really approximates the flavor and texture quality one might expect of gluten-foods. And partly because the gluten-free food industry has changed so much, and we have so many options now, I don’t see how Ener-g foods can continue to offer foods that pay so little attention to the pleasure principle of flavor and texture. Yes, it may be safe. Yes, it may last 6 months to a year in its aseptic packaging with its anti-mold packet. Hospitals and cruise ships may use it to feed their patients and customers- but we can and should expect MORE from our gluten-free foods.

After giving these breads one more try, I can safely say that I do not, overall, enjoy them, and won’t be ordering them again. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try them- just do not evaluate the possibilities of a gluten-free life and diet based on the flavors of their products. These are some gluten-free options offered by one gluten-free company, but many other products exist that I can more enthusiastically endorse.


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32 Responses to “Review of Ener-g Foods Gluten-Free Bread Sampler”

  1. I agree with all of the above, except I do like their crackers, esp the onion crackers. Their bread seems medicinal and they need to catch up to all of the other products out there if they want to stay around. Toasted cardboard is not something I choose to eat. I tried their hotdog buns this summer and they were ok, because I hadn’t had one in so long, but were mealy, dry and tasteless. Nice job reviewing.

  2. I’m glad you did this, because while I know better, I do sometimes wonder about the other kinds of Ener-G bread I haven’t tried. I won’t eat any gluten-free bread besides my own, I just skip out on sandwiches.

    However!!! I do buy Ener-g bread fairly often because while it is really gross to eat as bread, I toast it and grind the whole loaf up in the food processor (or blender) for bread crumbs. The weird flavors are lost (or overpowered) with the slightest seasoning, and for about $3 I can get a huge bag of bread crumbs, which I keep in the freezer.

  3. I have to agree with everything you said. We liked the pretzel rings with sesame seeds. Everything else in their line has been nasty and I am still amazed they stay in business with all the competition out there improving the taste, texture and quality every year. The smell and after taste have always been the big turn off for my crew.

  4. Amy,
    You make really good points here and I feel the same way that you do about the company — grateful for some of their products (we use the egg replacer and eat the pretzels), but also confused as to how they can still be making that bread and those cookies. Who eats it? Also, they have not updated their packaging and it just looks so… health foodish and not appetizing. I appreciate this article because I don’t think I am brave enough to write this!

  5. Alison- Ummm… my name isn’t Amy. Lol. I go by Sea on here, but neither Amy nor Sea is my RL name. ;)

    I agree that the packaging is really outdated. Goes with the product, I guess… and their web page. *shudder* But those things aren’t as bad to me as the taste, which is the main complaint I have.

    Hi Wendy, Yup, I am definitely not a fan of the smell of the bread or the aftertaste. The pretzels are fine though. :) (Although Glutino’s pretzels are equally good, I think)

    Hi Jill, I usually have enough leftover homemade bread that I just use it for crumbs- or I have frozen slices of homemade bread that I toast and use for crumbs. But, I’m sure Ener-g is fine for crumbs too, as well as for croutons. :)

    Hi Ginger, I don’t mind the crackers- its just that I ate so many of them that I got burned out on them. :) I also tried their sweet potato buns but I found them terrible and tasteless…

    -Sea

  6. I have to say that while I agree the breads are mainly unpalatable, I have been known to buy the Light Tapioca bread from time to time because it’s relatively tolerable for holding a sandwich filling and is only one Weight Watchers “point” for two slices. LOL

    Thanks for a great review!

  7. Here’s my input. I was never a bread baker (and still am not for the moment). I’m not the sandwich/morning toast person or known to go through loaves of bread a week. There are occasions when I enjoy a light PB&J, French Toast, or liverwurst sandwich. There’s also times when I make stuffing or other things where the bread is concealed or masked and I find that Ener-G is satisfactory.

    I know that the bread makes great croutons and, as I said, if you’re one who doesn’t always eat tons and tons of basic sandwich bread and are looking for a decently priced product (kinnikinnick is outrageous!), I usually opt for Ener-G’s Light Tapioca Loaf because its pretty tasty; although, there are probably better products out there somewhere.

    But, I know their pizza crusts are vile and like rubber, I wouldn’t waste my money on their other ‘treats’ when I know I can make my own, and their pasta is pointless. So other than the bread, I never really purchase their products just because I don’t find a need.

    BTW – If you’re a snacker, try Half Baked Popcorn in alternation with pretzels and whatnot. Holy Moley, good stuff. I go through bags of that like crazy! Crackers are getting hard for me to digest..I don’t know why and I never cared for pretzels.

    Happy eating~!
    - Manda

  8. Hi Manda- About Kinnikinnick- online their prices are about $5.60 for a loaf, which seems pretty reasonable to me compared to the HIGH price of Whole Foods bread in california (around $9a loaf- it’s a larger loaf but still!). The bonus to me for Kinnikinnick products is that shipping is only a flat $10… If you order through Ener-g directly, you pay by the pound so more depending on the size of the order. Now, if you buy Ener-g through Amazon you can get free shipping, but are limited to what they distribute through Amazon… which doesn’t include my flours. I should do a kinnikinnick review like this, but haven’t wanted to spend the money. I DO like their plain NY style bagel (way more than Glutino) and use it as a vegetarian hamburger bun. I was just looking at Kinnikinnick’s web page and trying to find a bulk/ case order discount and couldn’t find it. Interesting. Anyway, for my pocketbook (and since I am well used to GF Food price inflation), $5 something a loaf is quite tolerable, so I don’t discount Kinnikinnick on that account. On the other hand, the loaf or two I’ve tried by them hasn’t swayed me into their court. I do like their bagels (as i mentioned) and donut flavors, though- and think those products are better than anything poor old Ener-g has to offer.

    I used to love Ener-g’s pasta as a kid (white rice, alas) and bought some recently for old times sake. Will see how it holds up to my spoiled Tinkyada and Trader Joe fed adult taste buds.

    I also find crackers hard to digest- another reason I don’t eat as many as I used to. Oh, and I probably go through AT MOST, 1 loaf a week… and it’s more like I have a loaf once or twice a month. Just to get my bread habits completely out there on the table. ;)

    Hi Chandra- Yup, I kept thinking as I was trying the light breads that they would be nice if I was doing WW and counting points… could see the advantage then. Right now I’m ok with calories though, so probably wasn’t a very good customer for that particular line of products.

    You are all very welcome. I’m really enjoying the response and hearing your opinions.

    -Sea

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for this review. I’ve been GF for less than a year (not because it’s stylish; I was very, very ill before going GF). We live in a rural area, with few choices of GF foods.

    When I first became GF, my husband went to the local ‘health food store’ (which is about the size of a walk-in closet) and bought for me the only GF bread they had, which was one of the Ener-G products. After one or two tastes, I threw it away. I thought it was absolutely disgusting.

    Fortunately, I know how to cook and I live on the Internet anyway. :) So that didn’t really discourage me. I promptly went online and started following GF blogs and so on.

    Now I’m making lots of delicious baked goods – but not yet yeast bread. I’m working on that; I used to grind wheat at home and make 100% wholewheat bread at home, so it’s very difficult for a GF bread to compete with my (still fresh) memories of that glorious bread. But I’ll eventually hit on a bread I’m satisified by. It took me several tries to devise whole-grain muffins and pancakes that are just lovely (to my whole-grain sense of taste and texture). (I’ll send you the recipes, Sea, if you like. Let me know if you want them, please.)

    Anyway, point of story: I will never again buy bread from Ener-G and I probably won’t buy anything else from them either (we grind our own GF flours from the whole grains now).

    I can see how someone who was a less experienced cook than I, and/or not as much a denizen of cyperspace, could be terribly, terribly discouraged by their breads.

    Cheers,
    Pat

  10. Thanks so much for your in depth review of Ener-G breads. My own experience with their tapioca and corn breads is that I could not get past the odor…very much like chemicals to me. When I purchase ready made breads, I buy the rolls and pizza dough from Whole Foods (my store is a couple of miles from their bakery!). I also like Gillian’s rolls which I slice in to three layers, using the outer layers for hamburgers or sandwiches and the inside goes into a baggie for bread crumbs. These are the best crumbs I’ve found for topping broiled fish or chicken. Most of the bread I eat comes out of my bread machine or oven though. I’ve learned to freeze half the loaf to keep it from going bad, but it is always much better fresh baked. Isn’t this true of gluten products as well!
    Also, I do use Ener-G ingredients, such as their Egg Replacer in my own recipes. Perhaps, they should put more ‘Ener-G’ into this line and do away with the prepared foods.

  11. Sea,
    I have NO idea why I wrote Amy… seriously, what happened there?? Too much wine perhaps (yes, even at 7:07pm!) I think I clicked over from Twitter and just got confused. I apologize!

  12. I have never tried the Ener-g breads, they even look icky in the package. I’m glad to read that my instincts were correct. Thanks so much for putting yourself through this for us. The whole time I read your review, I kept picturing you forcing down slices of toast, holding your nose and making a nasty face. LOL

    As for bread, I don’t think I’ve purchased or baked a loaf in many, many months. I find it easier to just change our life style to be bread free. I still do muffins about once a month, but it’s much easier to live life w/o baked goods. And honestly, I feel SO much better without them. Sad but true. Some days I miss a nice, freshly baked scone, but most of the time it’s ok.

  13. Kinnikinnick bagels are the best I have found yet, TJ’s are hockey pucks and glutino’s tastes like egg whites and rice. Their donuts are pretty good too. I have tried their bread but it has been a while. I go through a loaf about every 6 months. I use bread more for bread crumbs than bread and for that I have switched to pulverizing waffles. I do need to bake myself a loaf as I feel a sandwich mood coming on, but a wrap sounds better. GF breads are so heavy and I got so used to not eating a bun that now when I do, I fill up too fast.
    Mostly though, I really don’t understand how EnerG can have that archaic packaging. It is pathetic. Thanks again for doing the review!

  14. Is it possible that the chemical/acidic smell out of the package comes from that packet of moisture absorber they stick in all the packages?

    Thanks for the review!

  15. Sea, great posting! I completely agree. I use their egg replacer as the Bette Hagman recipes call for it (although I have no idea what it does) and get their pretzels any time I travel by airplane. The package is small and perfect for travel, but they’re way overpriced, especially now that the big Glutino bags are available everywhere. I hate to knock a company that stepped up to the plate when there were no options for celiacs, but that doesn’t excuse a staunch reluctance to expand, learn, continue to improve…. and some day, maybe during a really bad recession, it will finally come home to roost. Maybe GM is running them or something…. ; ) I do know a 5 year old boy who absolutely refuses to eat anything but their tapioca bread, so maybe he’ll keep them afloat for a while. Thanks for being such a great resource, Sea!!!!

  16. Maria Teresa Says:

    Sea, right on! Thanks for taking the time to do this. I hope you shared your review with the Ener-G company!

  17. I hate hate hate those dense rice breads with the texture of play dough. You were brave to try them, even if you added a bit of butter. :)

    So far the only “bought” bread I really enjoy is Glutino’s Flax Seed bread and I still have to toast it, but I love toast. Some of the other Glutino bagels and breads are okay too but most contain milk or cheese.

    The best by far is homemade, but I have less time for baking as I’m out teaching a lot. So I thank my lucky stars that I’m here in Canada where I can buy GF bread.

    I tried Kinnikinnick’s baking flour mix in Japan, but found that everything I made tasted alike. I prefer to make my own mixes up based on the different things I am baking. After awhile you get a feel for what different flours to combine to get the results you want.

    :)

  18. Hi–
    We are trying to find the BEST gluten-free bread for sandwiches at our health-foods restaurant, but aren’t having any luck so far because we don’t have much experience with it! We need a bread, obviously, that won’t crumble and doesn’t have to be toasted to taste good. What do you think are the best ones out there?
    Thanks!

  19. Ener-G breads are terrible. They taste like cardboard, the white and brown sticks to your teeth. I have had celiac for over 20 years and the best products BY FAR are Glutino, if you taste their bread and compare with Ener-g there is no comparison trust me you will wonder why you eat Ener-g at all. Sorry just being honest tried so many different products over the years can’t beat Glutino the taste is phenomenal.

  20. Hi Joan, Thanks for your post! I’m not a fan of Ener-g, clearly. Haha. Unfortunately I don’t really like Glutino either. Of the prepared breads, I like Whole Foods GF bakehouse or Kinnikinnick white tapioca bread, bagel, or hamburger buns.

    -Sea

  21. Hi,

    Why is it that the GF breads always need to be toasted to taste any good? I have found one bread that tasted like real bread without having to toast it. “Crave bakery” in San Francisco used to make an awesome round brown loaf – but unfortunately I can’t seem to find it anywhere anymore. They used to sell it at Henry’s Farmers Market – but I haven’t seen it there since June. I don’t see it on their website either. I will have to investigate.
    Great blog – I love to hear others opinions of the breads. The only one I can tolerate is the Kinnickinnik breads – the Ener-g are tasteless in my opinion.
    Dom

  22. “Crave” is re formulating their bread and will be available in california in the new year!

  23. Hi,
    Ener-g bread isn’t solely about taste. For some it’s about necessity.

    Ener-g aren’t the greatest tasting, but for me they are a godsend. My daughter is allergic (anaphylactic) to wheat, milk,nuts, egg and soy…and many rices she can not have simply because they are milled in the same places as wheat. Ener-g is the only bread in UK grocery stores that we’ve found she doesn’t have a reaction too. Most recently they have stopped selling them and replacing with their own “free from” brands…which they’ve included egg usually. This makes it difficult for my 4 year old as it means she misses out on something so simple as sandwiches or toast with jam/marmalade (her favourite thing in the world). I for one am disappointed to see reviews like this, which are solely based on taste opinions and not really looking at the necessity of these types of bread. They aren’t there for the general person. They are made for people who really need them. I get quite irritated that celiac diets have taken over the “free from” as it’s actually made it much harder for the allergic person. When i browse the “free from” sections i find every product has either egg, milk or soy. But they state loud and clear they are “gluten free”. Sorry this rant isn’t directed at anyone in particular. But when you have to spend £100 to get some loaves of bread for your 4 year old online. Then we’ll have a proper discussion.

  24. I’m sorry to hear your daughter has anaphylactic allergies, and I’m glad to hear that the Ener-g foods bread work for her medically. You might be interested in the Enjoy Life products also made here in the states- they are completely free from all of those things your daughter can’t have. There is also a company called Namaste that makes allergen-free mixes that would be safe for her.

    I grew up on this medically necessary stuff, so I feel for your daughter. However, I think dismissing taste is the saddest thing in the world for her. Just because we have these medical conditions (in my case, Celiac that I almost died from at the age of three, and in hers serious allergies) does not mean that we don’t have taste buds and shouldn’t have standards or ask that companies work on their recipes to make edible products.

    The recent Celiac boom in the US has resulted in many new companies that consider not only the gluten-free issue, but also multiple allergies. At least in this market, it has been a boon for those with allergies, not a hindrance.

    I would also consider, in your situation, looking into gluten-free flours and recipes and making your own food for her. (A reputable gluten-free flour mill should not be contaminated with wheat, and should not have soy issues.) Bette Hagman, Carol Fenster, and rebecca Reilly all have excellent recipes that can be adapted to be dairy and egg free. The packaged stuff generally is markedly inferior to homemade stuff. But, as your daughter gets older and able to bake, maybe like me she will discover this for herself.

    I’m proud of this review because I was fair, mentioned the good qualities of the product (safe from CC, for example), but also evaluated the taste. As a gluten-free foodie currently on a strict allergen-free diet to breastfeed my highly allergic daughter, I will always maintain that taste is important. And rating the comparative taste difference of different products might help someone who has to eat these sad pieces of cardboard tack pick the tastiest variety.

  25. I agree with Mum. You are not comparing like with like. You compare the Ener-G breads only with with home-made bread and with products that are only gluten-free. In fact, Ener-G has set itself the much harder task of producing pleasant baked goods that are also free of soya, dairy, egg and other common allergens; and which stay fresh for months, allowing them to be transported over long distances and kept ready-to-eat.

    Like Mum’s daughter, I have to avoid dairy and soya. Avoiding soya is particularly difficult. Ener-G is the only bread I have found that is soft, good toasted and reliably soya-free.

    Like Mum, I am disappointed to find that this year my local supermarkets have stopped stocking it. As she points out, their own-brand versions are useless for people like her daughter and me. As are the alternatives you recommend to Mum. (In hope, I checked them out). Enjoy Life does not sell loaves. The Namaste flour blends look more interesting but they seem to be unaware that xanthan gum can be derived from soya and presents problems for people with corn intolerance. Neither company has a ready-to-eat product that would survive shipping.

    Your statement that, “A reputable gluten-free flour mill…should not have soy issues,” is doubtful: a company might find it useful to have soya flour on the same premises.

    Finally, sorry, but, despite your efforts to try every loaf, your review is not objective, even if judging it only as a critique of their taste. All your praise is qualified (the bread sampler is “quite” nice; you “might” buy the tapioca loaf), in contrast with the punchiness of your many criticisms. It reads like you have “issues” with Ener-G going back your childhood, which is understandable given your household’s apparent over-reliance on it.

    I hope that any UK retailers doing research online will not be influenced by the tone of your comments: I want to be able to continue to buy these loaves from time to time!

  26. How about putting together your own “objective” review with photos of various products and posting it on the internet yourself on your own blog? It is much easier just to write your own subjective comment on my blog, of course, which is no doubt why you did this instead. Sounds like you have your own “issues” and hang ups about your own allergies and the lack of appropriate products available to you. How about talking to your local suppliers instead of freaking out about someone’s subjective review written in an entirely different country?

    Taste is ALWAYS subjective, isn’t it- which is why I encourage people to try things for themselves.

    I qualify my praise because (as should be obvious) I don’t like Ener-g foods’ processed products all that much. Would a dishonest review be more palatable to you? Their flours are fine (although their rice flours are critiqued by many as “gritty”) and would be great for making soy-free homemade baked goods. Since you trust their processed products I would assume you would trust their flours, thus solving the soy-free flour dilemma.

    By all means, disqualify Namaste for their xanthan gum if you wish. However, Mum’s daughter was not listed as being allergic to corn. Also, in many cases such as soy lecithin or soybean oil, the processing DOES make a difference so xanthan gum may or may not be a problem to someone with a serious corn allergy.

    In this review, I compare Ener-g foods bread types to themselves and with other gluten-free options available for bread available, such as Kinnikinnick or homemade bread. The fact is, that there isn’t something exactly like it with quite as many preservatives or lacking allergens, so criticizing me for not doing so is a bit silly. Finding flour safe for your specific allergies is something I assume you are able to do for yourself- and you can always mill your own flour if necessary.

    As far as prepared breads, here in the states we have the prepared Food for Life bread and Glutino bread which may be suitable for those with some allergies but are unlikely to be available to you in the UK. Food for Life bread is not something I enjoy as it is heavy and bland, but I know some people with soy allergies (serious, anaphylactic) that eat it for convenience. It is unlikely to be safe for anyone with nut allergies as two varieties contain nuts:

    https://www.foodforlife.com/procart_lecatalog/index.cfm?SubCategoryID=1&do=list

    Glutino has prepared bread- some varieties are at least gluten and dairy free, but I don’t know about their soy status, and I believe they have eggs. Kinnikinnick is interesting for having a gluten-free and nut-free facility, although they have other allergens in their facility. Manna from Anna has bread mixes that have varying allergy-free mixes but I believe you need to use eggs for them to work. I don’t know if any would be appropriate for the various allergies listed here. You are welcome.

    I am dedicated to passing on whatever information I have (including my highly subjective opinion) to my readers. Because I love many of my friends with multiple intolerances, I often post recipes or post information about allergen-free products, but the main focus of this blog is for those with gluten intolerance. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not written for or read by a huge audience of UK retailers, at least as far as I know. To any such retailers, i would say- by all means, stock this allergen-friendly bread lest the cranky allergic hordes descend upon your establishment with pitchforks. In the interest of brotherhood, I’ll loan them the pitchforks.

    -Sea
    (currently eating a completely gluten, rice, soy, corn, egg, dairy etc. free diet to breastfeed my own allergic baby, thank you very much. And I can’t eat the nasty Ener-g bread THESE days because it all has rice in it, but somehow I will carry on.)

  27. I have purchased this bread for my 9 year old, and he prefers his bread softer. I have found that if you put 2 slices on top of each other on a plate and dampen a paper towel (on the same plate without touching bread slices) and microwave for approx. 20 seconds (each microwave is different), the bread becomes warm and soft and more palatable to him. (note: caution the paper towel becomes hot). My son loves to apply grape jelly, or steak sandwich meat for a great sandwich.

  28. Thank you for the reviews, as I had been thinking of trying them. I can’t afford to test too many things right now, and your review helped me make the decision… As for the packaging, I thought the “out-dated” packaging was charming.

  29. Thanks for the review, I’ll have to try out their Tapioca and corn bread. I recently bought a loaf of their brown rice bread and have to say I found it was tasty with butter. I’m curious about your many comments on preservatives, according to the packaging of the brown rice bread, it contains no preservatives but is preserved by the vacuum packed system they use.

  30. Kris,

    I’m honestly glad you liked the bread. I think we can do much better, though, especially if you can tolerate things like dairy.

    Here are the ingredients of the Brown Rice Bread, for example:
    Filtered Water, Brown Rice Flour, Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Pear Juice Concentrate, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Yeast, Methylcellulose, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose, Orange Citrus Fiber, Sugar Cane Fiber, Baking Powder ( Glucono Delta Lactone & Calcium Carbonate),Calcium Phosphate. Enriched with Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin Vitamin B2),Niacin, Iron ,Folic acid and Vitamin D.

    While there may not be “preservatives” in the traditional sense- the recipe is formulated for longevity, not taste, in my opinion.The bread smells bad and tastes bad in many cases due to the weird ingredients they use- and this is my beef with the recipes. I don’t know any home cooks that use oh-so-tasty methylcellulose, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose etc.- do you? I don’t want to eat these ingredients. Give me a bread with a shorter shelf life that tastes better or let me bake my own!

    Here is an example of ingredients in a bread that I personally like and prefer to the Ener’g foods:

    Whole Foods Bakehouse Sundried Tomato & Roasted Garlic Bread

    Nonfat milk, rice flour, tapioca starch, eggs, evaporated cane juice, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, yeast garlic salt, xanthan gum, lemon juice, canola oil, basil, oregano.

    Every ingredient goes towards the flavor of that bread and would be something I would use in my kitchen, not in a lab. I think the difference is clear. (Although it isn’t a good recipe for those with dairy intolerance.) No weird chemicals involved!

    Anyway, if you like the taste of your bread doctored up with butter, more power to you. It is certainly easy to find Ener-g Foods bread, especially in some regions, and that is a definite plus. Besides, butter will cover a lot, and when I was a kid, I ate this stuff too. Just glad I can bake for myself these days!

    Happy toasting,
    All my best,
    Sea

  31. I agree with all fo the above. I have never tried this brand before but thought i would give them a go. It was a toss up between the corn loaf and the tapioca loaf – in the end i went with the latter. Well it looked like bread and smelt like bread but when i made a sandwich out of it, everything fell apart! no gluten means its not that well bound together so falls apart very easy. Toasting it yeilds a better taste and makes it more harder so it doesnt fall apart but leaves a dry rubbery taste in the mouth. Im far too lazy to bake myself so i hope new products will come out soon as i love and miss sandwiches alot :(

  32. Chloe–you have many more options than this! Other gluten-free prepared bread brands that I recommend include:
    Whole Foods (only available at Whole Foods)
    Udi’s (available in many health food stores)
    Kinnikinnick (I like their bagels)

    Also check your area and anywhere you are planning on traveling to for gluten-free bakeries. There are some hidden gems, especially in big cities (Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Oakland, New York) and even in some smaller ones (Davis Ca etc). You can do better than Ener-g and still not have to bake!

    Thanks for commenting!
    -Sea

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