How to Store Fresh Bread. Surprised?

Photo Credit
Sokor Space/Shutterstock

Try the Bread Box, Not the Refrigerator

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I’ve been making bread all my life. Imagine my shock when I learned not long ago that I shouldn’t store fresh bread in the refrigerator, even if it contains eggs. Learn more about storing fresh bread—plus, a recipe for “bread bombs.”

I’ve never bought a loaf of bread. It’s in my DNA; I grew up in a household where the aroma of home-baked bread woke me a couple of times a week, and I’ve continued that tradition. I even operated a whole-grain bakery business out of my kitchen for a few years.

I’ve always been a stickler for following food-safety rules, which included refrigerating any fresh food, including (I assumed) bread and other baked goods. However, the experts say that refrigerating fresh homemade or store-bought bread causes changes to the starches that make the bread go stale faster.

They suggest keeping the amount of bread you plan to use within two or three days on the countertop or in a breadbox, and freezing leftovers or whole loaves wrapped tightly in plastic or aluminum foil, then enclosed in a heavy-duty plastic bread bag. Note: Most store-bought breads contain preservatives; homemade breads will naturally mold faster than commercial baked goods

Where to Store Your Bread

So, how do food experts and foodies contain their fresh bread? 

  • A paper bag? Yes! 
  • Wrapped in a clean cotton or linen dish towel? Yes! 
  • Cotton pillow case? Yes! 
  • Cloth bags or “bread bags”? Yes!
  • A breadbox of bamboo, wood, stainless steel, or ceramic? Yes!
  • Wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic? Yes!

Glossing over the details, wrapping the bread tightly in foil or plastic will always retain the bread’s interior softness longer but lose that crispy exterior. Other options such as a bread box will preserve a crunchy crust while gradually drying the entire loaf. 

If you’re freezing leftovers or whole loaves, wrapped tightly in foil (or plastic), then enclosed in a heavy-duty plastic bread bag.

I’ve learned to cut my loaves in half and slice from the middle; that allows me to press the cut ends together or stand them upright to prevent moisture from escaping the cut edges.

See more surprises about where to store fresh food!

Photo credit: TiAnaTsk/Shutterstock

The Bread Box

Maybe bread boxes should make a comeback! They are are great for storage. Unlike a plastic bag, the bread box allows the bread to retain both the soft interior as well as the crispy exterior that give bread its chew. The container traps moisture from the bread, not drying it out as quickly. 

Bread Bomb Recipe

Lately, I’ve begun making what I call “bread bombs,” hand-shaped yeasted loaves baked on a heavy steel cookie sheet. Early in the morning, I set up a sponge about the consistency of pancake batter, using very little yeast, covering the bowl with a damp kitchen towel. Every hour or so, or whenever I walk by, I work in another handful of flour, gradually stiffening the dough enough to stretch or knead right in the bowl. 

By late afternoon, it becomes fluffy and just firm enough to divide into two or three small lumps, which I knead lightly and shape right in  the bowl before setting them on the cookie sheet under the damp towel for a final rise. I bake them at 350° until the tops are well-browned, usually about 40 minutes.

Here’s my simple recipe.

  • 2 cups warm water
  • ½- ¾ t baker’s yeast
  • scant ½ T salt
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T or more maple syrup or other sweetener
  • enough whole-wheat flour to make a spongy dough

If the mood strikes, I might toss in a handful of rolled oats, millet or other flour; two or three tablespoons of chia, flax or toasted sesame seeds; dried herbs with a grated onion; or other ingredients—not all at once, of course.

Easy as—no, much easier than—pie.

Now see my recipe for flatbreads—which are fun, easy, and use less flour!

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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