While different types of bread go stale at different speeds (fresh home baked bread lasts 2-3 days while store-bought bread can go for up to 7 days), none of them will keep beyond a week at room temperature. So how to make bread last longer? How to keep it from molding?
If you are not planning to eat all the bread in a day, here’s how you can keep it fresh for longer.
Do not Refrigerate
Yes, the fridge keeps foods from going stale. But no, it will not keep your bread fresh.
In fact, your fridge will make it go stale quicker.
Bread goes stale through a process called recrystallization which causes retrogradation. Basically, the structure of starch changes leading to a dry, rubbery and stale bread.
Retrogradation occurs faster between 0 and 4 degree Celcius, the same temperature range as your fridge.
The cold temperature causes loss of moisture from the bread, quickening the recrystallization process.
Wrap and Store at Room Temperature
If you expect to eat the bread in the next 2 or 3 days, the best place to store it is at room temperature. But don’t leave it exposed. It will lose moisture and become too dry.
If it is processed bread from the store, leave it in its original packaging. If you bought the bread at a bakery or baked it yourself at home, wrap it in foil or plastic.
This will keep the bread soft and fresh.
The bread can stay that way for 2-7 days depending on which type it is.
Home-baked and bakery bread typically lasts 2-3 days. Bakery bagels last around 2-3 days as well.
Store-bought bread lasts longer – around 5-7 days – because it contains preservatives.
Whichever type of bread, make sure you store it in a cool dry place away from excess humidity and direct sunlight.
Note that if you live in a high-humidity area, you bread might go stale sooner. I recommend storing it in a bread bin (see next).
Store in a Bread Bin
A convenient way to store bread is by using a bread bin. The bin provides a more controlled environment that keeps the fresh bread for longer without having to wrap it in anything.
It prevents too much humidity which could cause the bread to go bad quickly and also prevents moisture loss which could dry out the bread.
Bread bins cost between £20 and £50 depending on size and features.
Freeze for Long Term Storage
If you plan to keep the bread for more than a few days, the best way to store it is by freezing it. This completely stops recrystallization and the bread can stay there for months.
Just remember to label and date it.
The bread will bring back to a fresh state when you thaw it.
Slice the bread before freezing. This makes it so much easier to thaw and cut later.
You can also freeze a few slices per bag so that you eat only what you need that day. You should never refreeze thawed bread.
Thawing Frozen Bread
There are four easy ways to make frozen bread taste freshly baked.
- Remove the wrapping and pop it in a 170oC preheated oven for around 30-40 minutes. If you’d already sliced the bread before thawing, they’ll need less time to thaw. Just keep checking on the bread every few minutes and turning it over if necessary.
- Use your microwave. The amount of time depends on the size of bread or number of slices. If it is a single slice, 10-20 seconds will do. You don’t want it to get hot and hard. A full loaf can take about 5 minutes while a baguette needs 2-4 minutes depending on size. As with an oven, keep checking on it to prevent overheating.
- If you’d pre-sliced the bread before freezing, you can thaw individual slices in a toaster. Some toasters even have a dedicated thawing setting.
- If you are in no particular hurry, leave the bread to thaw at room temperature. This will take a couple of hours or more depending on the size of the bread. Individual slices can take as little as 10 minutes. Let the bread thaw in its original wrapping then remove the wrapping when it has completely thawed.
Remember to eat all the bread once you thaw it. Refreezing it will make it go stale.