No One Wants A Stale Sandwich
There was a time when you’d find a breadbox on nearly every countertop in the country. They were a fixture until the mid-20th century. Although they might not be as common today, this doesn’t mean you don’t need a place to store your bread. If you want to maintain a clutter-free kitchen, you might find yourself looking for an out-of-the-way place to store your loaves. A place like the refrigerator might make sense aesthetically since it frees up counter space, but is a cold environment like a fridge really the best place to store bread? To find out, we asked Kimberly Baker, Extensions Food Programs and Safety director at Clemson University if you should store bread in the refrigerator. This is what we learned.
Storing Bread On The Countertop
Many people like to have their bread accessible and easy to reach. The counter, often near your toaster, is an ideal spot for bread storage. This is great if you don’t mind things on the counter, but keep in mind, even in a bag, the bread won’t stay fresh for more than a couple of days when kept out.
Breadboxes have been popular in the kitchen for years. There are so many cute versions available online.
Like this vintage enamel metal version from AuldHome. It’s a fresh retro design that will hold an entire loaf of sliced bread from the grocery store. Perfect for a farmhouse vibe.
Do Bread Boxes Keep Bread Fresh Longer?
Is the reason to have a bread box to keep your bread fresh longer? Well, no, not really, but if you’ve bought a gorgeous loaf with a crusty exterior, the last thing you want to do is stuff it into a plastic bag. Your delicious crust will go soft and rubbery. But, if you store it in a bread box, your gorgeous fresh bread will keep for several days, and you won’t risk it being uncovered on your counter. There’s a great article here from the New York Times on why breadboxes are back in fashion for just this reason.
What Is The Best Material For A Bread Box?
This lovely ceramic breadbox fits about a loaf and a half and looks super stunning on the kitchen counter.
Pick Up Reusable Bread Bags
“If you’re looking for a more versatile or eco-friendly way to preserve your bread, try a reusable bread bag. There are more on the market these days and many are machine washable and work great in the freezer. Take them with you to the store and toss that fresh loaf right in. These can be a nice alternative to a paper bag that can get torn and always seems to let crumbs escape onto the counter. Reusable bags are made of breathable materials, so they behave like paper bags without the waste. Ranging from $7 to $20, they’re a great investment for a bread lover at any level.”
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How To Keep The Fresh In Fresh
Whats the best way to store yeast bread? An apt question, especially during the summer. Heat and humidity can turn the crunchy-crispy crusts of your baguettes and boules soft as pudding. Meanwhile, homemade burger buns and sandwich loaves start to develop those dreaded white spots mold precursors seemingly as soon as theyre cooled, bagged, and stashed in the bread drawer.
Whats a dedicated bread lover to do? Add preservatives, like youd find in store-bought loaves?
Perish the thought. You can lengthen any breads viability simply by focusing on four key factors.
1) Slicing: where you cut matters
When your bread has cooled and youre ready to cut into it, think before you act. If you start slicing at one end, youll always be dealing with an open end leaking moisture. But if you slice the loaf in half down the middle, cut a slice from one of the halves, then press the two halves back together before wrapping, no open surface will be exposed which means less chance of moisture evaporating.
2) Material: cloth vs. plastic vs. foil
So which wrap works best: cloth, plastic, or aluminum foil? Lets find out.
The takeaway: If you’re storing bread for a day or two at room temperature, plastic or foil are the best options.
3) Temperature: room temperature, refrigerator, or freezer?
4) Bread type: styles that stay naturally fresh
Can You Freeze Breadcrumbs
Yes, you can freeze both fresh and dry breadcrumbs. Fresh breadcrumbs will stay at their best for 3-6 months in the freezer and dry breadcrumbs will last around a year. After that, they can start to lose some flavor and texture, but theyll never become unsafe to eat as long as the temperature stays below 0 degrees Fahrenheit .
To freeze, put the breadcrumbs in a sealed plastic bag and remove all the air before putting it in the freezer.
If youre planning to store the breadcrumbs for more than a few weeks, then its a good idea to double bag or wrap the plastic bag in aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
You dont need to worry about portioning up the breadcrumbs before freezing because the crumbs are too small to stick together.
If you do find any clumps, they should be easy to break up with your fingers.
Just label the bag with the date you froze them, so you know how long theyve been in the freezer.
Theres also no need to worry about defrosting the breadcrumbs in advance, as they defrost so quickly once you take them out of the freezer.
I use the breadcrumbs straight from the freezer, and they defrost as I am preparing the rest of the dish.
Because fresh breadcrumbs have some level of moisture in them, they can form ice crystals, which will make the breadcrumbs soggy as they melt.
Look out for these as you take the breadcrumbs out and remove any obvious ones that you can see.
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Toss Bread Out If You Notice Signs Of Spoilage
Wherever you store your bread, if you see any mold , you’ll need to discard the entire loaf. It’s important to dispose of the whole package, even if you only see mold on a couple of slices, since it can produce harmful toxins . Ropiness is another sign that bread is going bad this happens when bacterial spores make it through the baking process and grow inside the loaf. “This type of spoilage can occur in bread and in baked goods with higher moisture content,” notes Cooper. “If the inside of the loaf develops a soft mass that is stringy with a fruity smell, that indicates rope, or bacterial spoilage of the bread.” Young adds that you should also toss out your bread if it becomes very dry and hard and if it starts to smell sour.
Don’t Be Afraid To Refrigerate
Though this is a highly contested topic, Booker says that refrigerating bread can actually give it more longevity. Since the refrigerator provides a constant temperature, “you don’t have to worry about fluctuations if it’s hotter or cooler in the day,” she says. But it’s best to use this method as a short-term solution since the cooler temperature can sometimes cause starches to crystallize, therefore making the bread less soft and more course.
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Why Should You Not Refrigerate Bread
The refrigerator makes fresh food last longer, so why not keep bread in there? Not so fast, friend: This can actually make your bread go stale even faster. The cool temperatures speed up a natural molecular process that causes starch molecules in the bread to harden, and leaves you with a crunchy, dry loaf. Room temperature is better, but keep in mind that too much moisture in the air can leave that bread susceptible to mold.
One caveat? Store-bought bread can usually be kept in the fridge without much change in texture. Thats because it contains preservative ingredients that keep it fresher for longer.
How To Keep Homemade Bread Fresh
*If making your own bread, choose recipes that include fats like butter, oil or eggs. These ingredients will help the preserve the bread and keep it softer longer.
*Wait for your freshly-baked loaf to cool completely before storing. Try to consume fresh bread as soon as possible – bread will start to stale once it has cooled.
*If you are planning to freeze homemade bread, do it as soon as possible after baking and cooling. Wrap it in plastic and, ideally, slice the bread before freezing. Sliced, it will thaw out in around 10 minutes, or can be quickly toasted using the defrost setting.
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The Best Place To Store Leftover Bread
Among the constant food staples in my kitchen is bread. Youll rarely find me without a hearty loaf of multigrain , and a fresh baguette. But, as much as I love carbs, its sometimes tough to eat my way through without facing stale slices or dry heels.
Though Id like to use the stale leftovers for croutons or bread crumbs, theres never quite enough to make a worthwhile amount, or other times it doesnt fit into my cooking plans.
To prevent food waste and extend the life of my bread, I started storing the leftovers in a smarter location.
First Make Sure To Cool Completely
Before you pack muffins or quick bread aways, cool them completely. After coming out of the oven, let these baked goods briefly cool in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool all the way.
Even if theyre just a tiny bit warm, muffins and quick bread continue to emit heat. When stored in a sealed container too soon, that excess heat results in condensation. With nowhere to evaporate, it will settle on the muffins and quick bread, creating an unpleasant soggy surface.
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How To Store Bread So It Stays Fresh Longer
For many people, the phrase “bread is life” rings very true. However, to love fresh bread, one must also accept its very short shelf life. It’s a bummer to pull out a recently-purchased loaf, only to find that it’s already tooth shatteringly stale or riddled throughout with mold.
The shelf life of truly fresh bread tends to be a fleeting two to three days. But that doesn’t mean you need to carb-load in order to appreciate that crusty sourdough boule or spindly French baguette.
Once you’ve got a handle on proper storage, you can get a lot more bang for your buck and your bread. To help, we’re sharing the best way to store bread and a few tips on how to keep bread fresh longer.
Don’t Place Bread In The Refrigerator
Finally, and this is a very important one, don’t store bread in the refrigerator. It might seem counterintuitive since the refrigerator is seen as a food-preserver, but placing your homebaked loaf of bread in the refrigerator will actually cause it to stale faster than if it’s kept at room temperature.
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Where Should You Store Bread
The enemy of any kind of bread, homemade or store-bought, is air. Thats because it gradually absorbs the moisture that keeps bread soft, fluffy and appealing to eat. So the best place to store bread is away from air, wrapped tightly or stashed in a sealed container. Back in the day, this was accomplished with a bread box, but most people dont have bread boxes anymore . A microwave does a good job of replicating the bread box, keeping air out and maintaining a constant temperature and humidity level.
Paper Bags Kitchen Towels And Plastic Bags
Plain paper bags and kitchen towels also work very well to keep the bread from excessively drying. And while many sources say never use a plastic bag, sometimes it might be necessary, especially if your climate demands it so. In the dead of winter here in New Mexico, humidity levels drop so low my lower hydration sourdough bread almost has to be placed in a sealed plastic bag to retain some semblance of a soft texture. In this rare case, a sealed plastic bag is necessary and works well.
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The Science: From Baking To Staling
Before we get into solutions for the best way to store bread, we should first briefly talk about stale bread: no one’s favorite, unless we’re making French toast, ribollita, bruschetta, or bread crumbs and croutons, of course. But what happens behind the scenes when the dough is baked, left to cool, and on its way to staleness?
If you’re not interested in a brief scientific basis for staling, skip to the next section.
As bread dough is baking, the starch granules gelatinize. When they gelatinize, they swell from the moisture in the dough, and their rigid, crystalline structure transforms into a non-crystalline form . When the baked loaf is removed from the oven, it begins to cool. From this point on, the crust and crumb begin to harden over time as starch undergo retrogradation, a re-ordering into a crystalline form.
This retrogradation means a hardening of the crumb as moisture moves out from the starches, eventually taking a loaf of bread from soft and pliable to excessively hard and what we identify as stale. Other processes begin to take effect with the crust as well, as it begins drawing moisture out from the crumb into itself, making the crust rugged and leathery.
It’s also worth knowing that doughs containing some percentage of fats will typically last longer before staling. The fat present in the dough slows the re-crystallization of the starch granules and reduces the movement of moisture between starches and proteins 3 which causes the crumb to harden.
How Long Can You Freeze Bread For
Frozen bread can last 3-6 months in the freezer when properly packaged.
You may think that freezing bread dries it out, and yes it can sometimes. But if you freeze it correctly you can have fresh bread at home whenever you need it!
Always make sure that your bread has fully cooled and is wrapped well with as little air as possible. Double bagging or wrapping the bread is always a good option
Also, always make sure that you are freezing fresh bread. If your bread has already gone stale freezing it wont do anything to help. Instead, use it to make bread crumbs or croutons.
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How To Store Dry Breadcrumbs
To store dry breadcrumbs, put them in an airtight container, and keep them in a cool, dry place. In most cases, dried breadcrumbs are fine to keep in the pantry for up to six months. But if you live in a humid environment, then youre best off keeping your dried breadcrumbs in the fridge or freezer.
Prolonged humidity can introduce moisture into your breadcrumbs, which will drastically reduce their shelf life.
Before you transfer any homemade dry breadcrumbs into their storage container, make sure theyre completely cool.
If theyre still a bit warm, then they can sweat, resulting in unwanted moisture.
Editors Tip: Use a food-safe oxygen absorber when storing your breadcrumbs to extend their shelf life.
Let The Bread Rest Uncovered On The Day That You Make It
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Storing Bread In A Cabinet
Many store bread/buns on the lower shelf of an upper kitchen cabinet, close to where breakfast or lunch foods are prepared. While this is a good storage option, it takes cabinet space that could be used for glassware. It also looks messy when the cabinet door is opened.
If you have ample upper cabinet space, this may be a good option for you, but keep it tidy and review contents regularly. Note that even though bread bags are secured, crumbs always tend to gather in those areas. Clean routinely to reduce the risk of attracting pests to this shelf.
Where To Store Bread In The Kitchen
For many of us, bread is not just a weakness but also a vital necessity, without which neither breakfast nor dinner is a joy. Everyone has different tastes concerning bakery products: someone prefers lush and soft wheat buns, someone rye, and someone, adhering to the principles of proper nutrition, chooses whole grain bread or something from wholemeal flour. However, we all agree on one thing: we want our favorite product to be fresh soft, fragrant, with a crispy crust.
Unfortunately, careless bread storage leads to rapid deterioration it becomes stale, loses its pleasant smell, cakes, and becomes moldy. Buying such a product too often is a direct path to wastefulness and excessive consumption. This means that the best way is to find a way to store bread in the kitchen properly. And we will help you with this. So, we will tell you where to place your favorite buns and loaves so that they delight you with freshness and great taste for longer.
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