For all the joy bread brings to a table, it has a considerable weakness: A short shelf life. If you’re not worrying about your favourite loaf growing mould, you’re concerned about it getting stale.
Regardless if it’s store-bought, bakery-fresh or homemade, bread stays fresh longer when it’s in a relatively air-tight environment since circulation speeds up the staling process.
Here are 5 ways to help you make your bread last longer.
Freeze your bread
Freezing bread is the best way to preserve that crusty loaf for the longest time possible. Wrap tightly in a freezer bag, either whole or sliced. I like to put wax paper between slices when I freeze, as this makes it easier to take out just what I need. Defrosting a whole frozen loaf in the refrigerator overnight is the best way; out on the counter it can get soggy, and while it will toast just fine, it makes for a better loaf in the fridge. Also, don’t forget to unwrap from the freezer bag when defrosting. This keeps any water from pooling while it defrosts. And if defrosting seems daunting, not to worry: you can always reheat bread straight from the freezer. For a whole loaf, try baking at 160 degrees Celsius for 25 to 30 minutes, while slices can be popped right in the toaster.
Store in paper, never plastic
A fresh loaf of bread is best eaten within two to three days. If you plan on devouring it right away, then keeping it in a paper bag on the counter is the move. While storing in plastic seems like the right idea, this actually encourages mould growth, resulting in the bread to go bad much faster. I also save the heels of my bread and use them as covers for the cut side of my loaf. Keeping the cut side of your loaf as unexposed as possible will also help retain its freshness.
Bread boxes are your friends
Bread boxes are a great way to keep bread, and a fun way to add style to your kitchen. They have small holes in them, which allow just a little air to circulate, keeping bread from moulding. If you have pest concerns and prefer to keep bread in an airtight container, try tossing in a slice of bread with your loaf. The slice with more surface area will attract water and help control the moisture content in your container.
Where exactly you store your bread is critical
Where you store your loaf can be just as important as how you store. Bread goes on top of the refrigerator, right? Try again! Keeping bread on the fridge will cause paper-bagged bread to dry out, and plastic bagged bread to mould faster. This comes from all the heat your fridge is putting out. Same for storing near a dishwasher; the excess heat and moisture these appliances give off is not bread-friendly. Try to store bread in a cool and dry area of your kitchen. If not out on the counter, then in a cabinet or a deep drawer.
Pick up reusable bread bags
If you are 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 seem to let crumbs escape onto the counter. Reusable bags are made of breathable materials, so they behave like a paper bag without the waste. Ranging from $7 to $20, they are a great investment for a bread (and environment) lover at any level.