Crusty French bread. Sandwich loaves. Ciabatta. Homemade bread is truly an art form, but without preservatives, it's tricky to keep it from going stale. The good news is there are different storage tricks you can try to stretch the lifespan of your loaf. Put these into practice and you'll be able to carb-load for longer.
1. Don't Leave It Out
In general, leaving bread uncovered causes a crust to form, resulting in stiff, stale bread in the blink of an eye. Dry climates also suck the moisture out of bread even faster. If you notice the outer edges of your loaf have gotten stiff, slice 'em off with a bread knife and store the rest using one of the methods below.
Good to Know
Breads containing fat, like Parker House rolls , are the exception to this rule — they'll fare better for longer if left in the open air.
2. Store in a Bread Box
They may seem old-fashioned, but these countertop contraptions are making a comeback because, well, they work. Using one allows your bread to breathe, yet doesn't let in enough air to totally dry out a loaf.
If a bread box seems like too much of a spatial commitment, mimic the experience by covering the bread with a clean, dry kitchen towel and placing in a paper bag.
3. Carefully Wrap in Plastic
There's no middle ground here — plastic is either the best or worst way to store bread. If your bread is double-wrapped in clean plastic and stored in a cool, dry place, the plastic can really extend the bread's life (especially in drier climates). But if there's even a drop of moisture in that plastic, the water can incubate and make the bread mushy or — way worse — moldy.
4. Freeze It
If you're playing the long game, freezing bread is where it's at. Thoroughly wrap a cool, dry loaf in plastic, making sure no moisture or condensation sneaks in. Then store it in the freezer for up to two months. (You could go longer, but the flavor may be affected.)
Good to Know
Slicing the bread before storing is even better, as it thaws quicker and is easy to pop in the toaster for quick warming.
5. Never Refrigerate It
Refrigerating bread is just about the worst thing you can do, because it'll completely dry it out. Sure, it's fine to put a sandwich in the fridge for a few hours, but when you're talking about a loaf (sliced or not), the fridge gives it a funky texture that just isn't good.
How to Save Stale Bread
If you think it's too late for your loaf, don't toss it just yet — there may be a few things you can do to fix it.
1. Add Apple Slices
Adding a slice or two to your packaged bread might soften it enough to give it a second chance.
2. Use Microwave Magic
Put a few slices of bread on a moistened (but not wet!) paper towel and heat for 10 seconds.
3. Repurpose It
If your stale bread can't be saved and is too crispy to be enjoyed as-is, try using it in a French toast casserole or as homemade croutons . Homemade bread crumbs are another great option, and can work their way into tons of recipes. That way it's not a total loss!
Learn More Now
Now that you know how to store 'em, get all the expert tricks and tutorials you need to make tasty loaves in our class, Artisan Bread Making.