Store fresh bread in a cool, dry place away from excess heat, moisture and air. Paper, plastic bags & bread boxes? They all work. Here’s how to do it- without mold.
Make no mistake: Fresh bread is best.
The question is, how long will it last? Without preservatives? And what about mold? Here are my top tips for storing bread, keeping it fresher for longer.
When in doubt, this is your best storage/preservation option.
Fresh bread can be frozen whole or cut into slices. Wrap whole loaves in several layers of plastic wrap, label, date and freeze.
For bread slices, store in a zip-top bag separated by parchment paper to prevent sticking (or throw caution to the wind and dump everything together- that’s what I do).
Frozen bread will stay fresh for up to 3 months or longer, or whenever freezer burn sets in. You’ll love having a stash on hand to make garlic bread, quick sandwiches, and homemade croutons.
Tip: How to defrost frozen bread. Defrost whole loaves or cut slices overnight in the fridge, or at room temperature for a few hours. If the bread has icy bits stuck to it here and there, remove the wrapping to prevent the crust from getting soggy. To serve, reheat at 300˚ F (150˚ C) or toast until crispy.
They all work. In my experience however, freshness depends on the type of bread stored.
For example, sandwich bread does well when stored in a plastic bag; it locks in moisture which keeps the crust soft. But too much moisture will create mold, so I’ve found it’s best not to keep the bag airtight. Loosely twist the end to close.
Paper bags are more breathable than plastic, which is great for brioche rolls, soft buns, and other breads with added fat. But too much air will make the bread go stale quickly. Consider keeping these bags airtight as best you can.
Then there’s the bread box: it balances moisture and air circulation. The only caveat? They’re bulky and take up valuable counter space. I don’t have one, but many bakers swear by them. I’ve heard using a Dutch oven or bread pan is an effective alternative.
Bottom line? You need both moisture and air to guarantee freshness.
TIP: My storage preference. I use large, food-grade plastic bags. They are the perfect size for sandwich bread and larger boules. I reuse them as produce storage for my CSA veggies.
Most bakers recommend storing bread in a cool dry spot, at room temperature. Why? Excess heat and moisture creates mold, and too much air creates stale bread. So yes: a cool dry spot such as a pantry shelf works. I just leave my bread on the counter.
However, fresh bread can in fact be stored in the fridge, contrary to what you might’ve read online (I never used to recommend this myself!). We do this at our restaurant with excellent results.
TIP: How to refrigerate bread. Wrap whole loaves in several layers of plastic wrap and chill for up to 2-3 days. Reheat before serving, otherwise the texture will be rubbery: Warm the bread at 300˚ F (150˚ C) in a foil packet or naked, extending the bake time to crisp the crust, about 20-30minutes.
Sourdough bread is an excellent example of naturally preserved bread. The existing enzymes and bacteria help to keep your bread fresh. Additionally, a bit of fat in the dough such as butter or oil, will also extend its shelf life. A good example is sourdough sandwich bread.
Mold loves heat, moisture and food sources. For best results, keep your bread away from excess heat and humidity. Keep it away from the stove, off the top of the fridge, away from the fruit bowl etc.
Years ago, we used to keep our bread in a plastic bag, in a drawer nestled in-between the dishwasher and fridge. The excess heat from the two appliances, plus the moisture locked in the plastic bag, created the perfect storm for mold to grow. Everything in that drawer was covered in green hairy spots- rolls, tortillas, raisin bread- you name it!
As always, expect a bit of trial and error when storing fresh bread. Different variables such as bread type, temperature, storage material etc. need to be considered for best results. But the tips above will get you well on your way. Do comment below with your favorite storage tips, too!
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