How to Keep Bread Fresh
If you live alone, you're all too familiar with food going to waste. It's hard to buy single portions of many perishable foods, including fruits and vegetables. Let's tackle another food that can go bad before you're ready to say goodbye — bread.
Often known as "the greatest thing," sliced bread can go stale pretty easily if you don't care for it properly. Here are some tips on how to keep bread (sliced or not) fresh for longer. (See also: 17 Uses for Stale Bread)
Refrigerator vs. Room Temperature
Our first inclination is to keep food fresh by throwing it in the fridge. In the case of bread, that's the wrong move. Doing this draws out the moisture and causes the bread to go stale sooner.
Putting bread in the refrigerator is equivalent to three days at room temperature. To keep bread around longer, the best move is to store it at room temperature in a tightly closed package. Some people recommend linen bags because they can be tightly closed.
Different Breads Need Different Treatments
Not all breads have the same shelf life. For example, French bread can go stale in a matter of hours, not days or weeks. Crusty breads are best eaten on the same day you buy them. Don't plan on buying crusty bread and keeping it for the whole week.
The good news is that once crusty bread dries out and the crust becomes chewy, it can still be used for croutons or French toast for the next few days.
If you want to store your bread until after the "best before" date, the freezer is your best option. Bread can be stored for up to three months in the freezer. Wrap it in foil and then put it in a sealed plastic bag to avoid freezer burn. When you're ready to use it, just defrost it at room temperature or wrap it in aluminum foil and stick it in a pre-heated oven for 5 minutes. (See also: Breaking the Bread Code: How to Get the Freshest Loaf)
How to Bring Bread Back From the Dead
If your bread has become a little stale, you're in luck! (But if it's moldy, all is lost and the loaf should be thrown out.) You can refresh your stale bread by wrapping it in aluminum foil and putting it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Once it cools, it should be eaten quickly. This process will dry out your bread more quickly, so don't count on refreshing your bread more than once. This works great if you just want one last hurrah for your bread.