The best breads die young. Bread’s short shelf life makes us all wonder how to keep it fresh. There are many ways to store those gorgeous bakery loaves, which are at risk of staleness due to their flour, yeast, and water content.
The freezer is best. If you don’t have a freezer or prefer to store your bread at room temperature, we tested a few other bread storage methods and ranked them below.
Before scrolling to the results, consider these things. Our kitchen is not a climate-controlled lab. These methods were tested in two hot, humid Midwest weeks, so your results may vary. We only consider homemade and artisan bread. Store-bought sandwich breads and buns have mold inhibitors and other preservatives, so they last longer than homemade bread with little effort.
After those disclaimers, here are seven bread-storage methods, ranked from best to worst. The worst may surprise you.
1. The freezer
Yes, the freezer is typically used for long-term food storage, but if you want to keep your freshly baked bread in its most perfect condition, even for a few days, the freezer is the way to go. Freezing bread slows the staling, or retrogradation, process and eliminates the possibility of mold growth. When you take bread out of the freezer, you can immediately place it in the oven or toaster, which re-gelatinizes the starches and restores the bread’s springiness and chewiness.
How to Shape Every Type of Bread?
To freeze fresh bread, simply place it in a freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it. Next, you should put the bag in the freezer. Remove it from the freezer when you’re ready to eat, and reheat it in the oven. The Epi Test Kitchen recommends defrosting a whole loaf of bread at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it’s soft and fully thawed in the middle.
If you intend to use your bread for toast or sandwiches, slice it before freezing it. Individual slices can then be defrosted in the toaster. Even if you don’t want slices, portioning the loaf into a few larger pieces is a good idea if you don’t plan on eating the entire loaf in one sitting. Because, while freezing and reheating bread is fine, defrosting and refreezing it is not.
While bread can be frozen for up to three months, this is about as long as it can be stored successfully. Fortunately, even the best artisanal bread is inexpensive to buy and simple to make, especially if you have a bread machine.
The freezer is the absolute best way to store a whole loaf of bread and sliced bread.