There’s a time and place for fancy foods and delicacies, but nothing beats a soft, fresh slice of bread. Whether you make it at home or buy it from the store, there’s something magical about a recently baked loaf of bread.
All good things must come to an end, however. Even the finest bread begins to lose its charms after a certain period of time.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to make your bread last longer than usual, and they aren’t very hard to figure out. Here is what you need to know to keep bread fresh and maximize the shelf life of each loaf you buy.
Know When Bread Has Gone Bad
Before we talk about how to extend the life span of your favorite bread, we need to identify the major signs that tell us bread is past its prime.
The first thing to look for is mold, which is a fungus that feeds on the nutrients of the bread and rapidly multiplies by growing spores. Some mold looks nasty, and others look less harmless, but no matter what you may think of the mold, it confirms that the bread is past due.
It does not make a difference what color, shape, or size the mold may be. If you see a little or a lot, say goodbye to the entire loaf of bread. Don’t try to salvage a slice here and there; just bite the bullet and throw the whole thing out.
Sometimes the smell of old bread will give it away, even if there are no visual indicators like mold. A sour vinegary or alcoholic smell will be an instant signal that your bread has gone bad, and it needs to be discarded right away.
If the bread passes the sight and smell tests, it’s time to taste. Bread will usually taste fine if there are no other indicators of spoilage, but stop eating and throw out the loaf if the taste is off in any way.
Don’t attempt to cover up questionable flavors with butter, jam, or other toppings. If you have a bad feeling about the taste of the bread, let it go.
Finally, be on the lookout for stale bread, which isn’t harmful but may not be very pleasant to eat. We’ll discuss some ways to revive stale bread later in the article, or you can always chop up the stale loaf into croutons, breadcrumbs, or another crunchy creation.
As you bring different types of bread home to try, be aware of how each one reacts to exposure to various elements. Some fresh bread will fare better on the kitchen counter, while others will maintain their flavor and texture in the fridge or freezer.
Look for patterns of staling and molding, then take on new approaches to preserving the bread based on what you see.
Master The Best Storage Techniques
Now that you know what expired bread looks, smells, and tastes like, it’s time to learn how to store bread most effectively and make it last as long as possible.
The two main enemies of fresh bread are oxygen and moisture since they are the primary causes of staleness, mold, and other chemical processes that harm bread.
Therefore, whichever storage technique you choose should aim to reduce the amount of contact your bread makes with air and moisture. That’s why you see so many people using bread boxes or storing their baked goods in closed, dark cabinets in the kitchen, rather than leaving them out in the open.
If you do choose to store your bread on the countertop, be sure to keep it out of the sunlight and away from any heat source that may be in your kitchen. Also, give it a tight double wrap in plastic or wax paper, allowing a minimal amount of air to enter and sabotage the bread.
Homemade bread can last this way on the counter for up to five days before it starts going south, while store bought bread can last over a week if it was made with certain preservatives.
If you wish to make your bread last longer than that, it’s time to clear out some space in the refrigerator. By wrapping bread tightly in plastic and placing it in a colder part of the fridge, you can successfully tack on a few more days of life to your slices or loaves.
Just be aware that when in the refrigerator, the staling process will speed up as the starch molecules crystallize with the water within the crumb of the bread. The bread will certainly last longer, but you will probably sacrifice some flavor and texture.
Sometimes, it’s better to skip the fridge and go straight to the freezer. Food scientists suggest that you can actually avoid the staling process by freezing bread since starch crystals form extremely quickly and maintain the quality.
Some bread can last weeks at a time in the freezer, while others can last months. The faster you freeze your bread after baking or buying it, the better your results when you take it out and bring it back to life.
Remember to wrap that bread tight at least twice before placing it in the freezer, or use a resealable bread bag to keep all excess moisture at bay.
Revive Your Bread the Right Way
When the time comes to revitalize bread that has been stored in the fridge or freezer, there are a few steps to keep in mind.
Let’s start with the refrigerated bread, which should be unwrapped and left on the counter for a few minutes as the starch molecules warm up and restore some of the softness to the crumb.
While you won’t be able to achieve the original level of squishiness to the bread, you can always toast it in the oven or toaster to add some more crunch and make it appealing despite having gone a bit stale in storage.
Try to use as much of the bread as you can once it comes back to life because the staling process will only continue when you put the loaf back in the fridge.
When taking bread out of the freezer, you’ll want to do things a bit differently. If you’re working with an entire frozen loaf, try to let it thaw in the fridge overnight before using it. This will make sure the bread restores some of its softness and doesn’t get too soggy.
If your goal is to just make a quick sandwich or piece of toast out of the freezer, it’s smarter to slice and wrap your bread ahead of time. It may be a bit more work, but you can make your bread last way longer and access it more conveniently at your leisure.
With individually wrapped slices of bread, you can instantly pop them into the toaster oven and bring them back to near 100% original quality. This will work better with certain types of bread (generally those with higher sugar content) but will do the trick in most situations.
Whether you choose to store your bread in the freezer or fridge, you can easily restore it to its (almost) full glory if you have the right techniques in place. Experiment with different methods based on the type of bread you buy, and if you find a new approach that works, stick with it.
Map Out A Strategy To Never Waste Bread
It doesn’t matter which way you slice it; sometimes, you’re just going to run out of bread or accidentally let some go to waste. Even with the most specialized storage and restoration methods, it’s one of those inevitabilities that happens in the kitchen.
But what if there was a bread that was built for long-term fridge and freezer storage, could easily be toasted up on the fly, and was always delivered fresh to your door, so you never ran out?
We accomplished all this and more with our Superfood Bread, which lasts up to four weeks in the fridge and up to six months in the freezer, yet with zero preservatives!
Since this bread is shipped to your door in the form of unique cube-shaped loaves, you can carve up your slices in any shape and store them however you like. Simply follow the protocols we talked about above, and you have amazing, healthy bread on deck 24/7.
Tired of letting bread expire before you get to fully enjoy it? These methods will definitely help you make the most of each loaf you buy.
If you want to upgrade to Superfood Bread, you’ll have a much better grip on your bread inventory and make every loaf last much longer! Read some of the latest rave reviews and see how our bread is changing the game for bread lovers around the country.