Bread is one of those foods that made its way around the world. Any cuisine you can think of, it contains bread. Bread has developed different forms over time. You might like several types of bread but the challenge is to know how to store them properly.
The challenge is even harder when it comes to homemade bread. Store bought and commercial bread come with different preservatives to keep them fresh for a relatively long time. But with homemade bread, they start losing their glory as soon as you get them out of the oven.
Why Do Bread Spoil?
Before jumping into how you can store your bread, you need to know why bread goes stale. Bread lose the softness mainly because of two reasons. The first reason indicates that the ingredients itself are the culprits.
When you take the bread out of the oven, a chain of chemical reactions start. These reactions force water out of the bread. As a result, staleness occurs. The process has a rather unusual name tagged to it, “starch retrogradation”.
The other reason bread goes stale is a long exposure to air. The air sucks out the moisture out of the bread. And you are left with stale tasteless bread to eat.
Why Not Refrigerate?
When we want to store any food item, the first place that comes to our minds is the refrigerator. You can, of course, store your bread in the refrigerator but it is not advisable.
Remember the fancy term we used, retrogradation? It happens way faster in the refrigerator. The process actually starts at cooler temperatures. So, when you take the bread out of the oven, it starts to retrograde.
But when you put the bread inside the refrigerator, it creates the perfect atmosphere for retrogradation. The only benefit you can achieve from storing your bread in the refrigerator is that it won’t catch mold.
If you are okay with toasting your bread before you want to make a pastrami sandwich next time, go ahead and put it in the refrigerator. The heat breaks down the starch crystals and brings the original texture of the bread somewhat back.
Make sure you don’t put the bread inside the refrigerator while exposed. Seal the bread in an airtight container or a zip-lock bag and push the air out as much possible. Then store it for preservation.
Keeping It Fresh
Suppose you like freshly baked bread direct from the oven. It is not possible for anyone to bake every time they want to eat bread. So, you can go with the methods discussed below to trap the freshness as much as possible and store your bread properly.
1. Wrap Them Up
Bread is best stored in room temperatures. The most convenient way to store bread in room temperature is to wrap them with plastic or aluminum foil. The foil helps to trap the existing moisture and keeps them soft as well.
Sliced and whole bread require different attention. If the sliced bread came in plastic packaging, it is advised to keep it that way. The packaging is designed to trap the moisture. Whole bread, on the other hand, is better stored in an aluminum wrapper.
2. Freeze Them
If you want to preserve your extra bread for longer than a couple of days, put it in the freezer. The sub-zero temperatures of a freezer halt the retrogradation process and keep the bread in the same state.
We highly recommend putting the bread in freezer grade plastic wrappings and cutting into slices before storing. The plastic wrap keeps the cold from making the bread surface crusty. The slicing helps to freeze the bread evenly.
When it is time to eat the bread again, just bring it out and let it come up to room temperature. This process is called thawing the bread. You can warm it up in the oven or toast it if you like. Enjoy an old bread that tastes like a freshly baked one!
3. Store in a Breadbox
Breadboxes do exactly what they are designed for. They store bread and keep them fresh. Breadboxes have been around for a very long time and still as useful as before.
Modern breadboxes come in many sizes and shapes. You can choose one that matches your interior and adds a nice touch to the kitchen counter. Breadboxes are ideal to preserve the original texture and moisture for up to four days!
Breadboxes work in a similar way like a plastic bag. They retain the moisture inside the box and keeps the bread soft and moist. But breadboxes gain the upper hand because they let go of some of the moisture. Think of it like breathing.
Most breadboxes come as a countertop unit. You can find plenty of designs. This is a standard bamboo breadbox that fits almost any kitchen counter. It adds a vintage look to your kitchen. Very easy to clean and maintain. The sliding panel makes it perfect for day to day use.
Then there are under-cabinet models. These breadboxes are great if you want your bread to be out of sight. The problem with these is they are extremely rare to find. You might have to improvise a regular breadbox to use as an under-cabinet one.
There are adjustable breadboxes available if you want complete freedom over how you want to store your bread. These come with knobs to adjust the air according to your choice.
Some models even come with expandability. The plastic breadbox not only lets you set the air, but you can pull it out if you need more space. This is a compact and reliable product suitable for a variety of use.
If you want something practical durable for long time use, stainless steel breadboxes like this one are ideal. They come in different finish and colors for you to choose. The front slides right up so you don’t have to compromise any more counter space.
To utilize space and work efficiently, this breadbox works great. It looks like a classic bamboo breadbox that comes with a built-in cutting board! So, you can cut your bread right when you bring it out without making a mess.
Lift-off breadboxes help save a lot of space at the counter. This is a natural looking box that can be a great addition to your kitchen countertop.
Know Your Bread
Different bread decay in different rates. So, they require different storing methods. As we mentioned earlier, store-bought bread comes with preservatives to give them a longer life span. The bread that contains fat take longer to retrograde than the ones that contain less fat.
Regular store-bought bread that comes with the soft crust is ideal to be stored in plastic bags. On the other hand, bread with hard crusts will develop mold if left in plastic bags for long.
After all the precautions in the world, our bread goes stale from time to time. There is nothing to worry about. Partially stale bread is relatively easy to make them edible again. Just heat up the oven or microwave and throw the bread in for a couple of minutes.
This should bring the original texture back to such an extent that it can be consumed. Do not let it go cold again and you will be fine.
How to store bread properly is not rocket science. It just requires common sense and a little understanding. How you want to store your bread greatly depends on your surroundings, climate, and convenience.
If you can manage to get a breadbox, that would be undoubtedly the best option to store the bread. But not all of us bake regularly. So, wrap the bread in plastic or aluminum foil depending on the bread.
For longer storage purpose, wrap the bread properly and put them in the freezer. We advise leaving the bread in room temperature for the first 1-2 days if your climate allows you to. Choose the best option that works for you and keeps enjoying your favorite bread.