How to Keep Bread Fresh

Photo: John Loo

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.

Freezing Breads

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.

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How to Keep Bread Fresh

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Meg Favreau's picture

I love the idea of bringing bread "back from the dead." Careful of that zombie toast! That sounds like a great trick though, and I definitely need to try it. As someone who lives alone, my bread almost always goes stale before I finish the whole loaf.

Guest's picture

Same here! My trick is to put it in the microwave for a few seconds - it comes out really soft like fresh bread again!

Guest's picture

Great advice! Actually you can also refresh bread by putting it in the oven inside a slightly damp paper bag for a few minutes - it seems to freshen bread up quite well.

Guest's picture

French sticks (bloomers) can be revitalised if crust after some days by putting in microwave at full power for 30seconds to a minute. They come out smelling like fresh baked bread.

Thinking of this I should try it with sliced bread, maybe less time for same fresh bake smell and taste.

Bread in a freezer is the only way to preserve bread longer.

I have tried recently those plastic food storage boxes with a clip lock on each side. Since has for last eight years kept my screen wipes (I don't use them for screen wipes) wet in one of those boxes. And you cannot get many ways to preserve those in a anything for same length of time. Well maybe you could with those vacuum storage bags. While bread wouldn't be as good squashed with vacuum squashing.

To say the least even bread didn't last long in one of those clip storage boxes. Its the air that is the problem. Air trapped in the bread and the box itself. Air that mould need to grow from the yeast and other ingredients in bread.

Need to store bread longer - freeze it.

Guest's picture

If you slice day(s) old bread and put a little oil on it, a crock pot can do wonders -like pipping hot fresh bread. It takes patience though. and most crocks are too small to make it practical. Crust comes out nice and crispy while the inside is soft with a layer of crisp.

Be real, be sober.

Guest's picture
ToastyToaster [Would anybody like any Toast??]

There is at least one other thing to do with that day-old half-a-crusty-loaf....Toast! Big thick slices of it :-)

Guest's picture

Put some olive oil and your favorite seasonings on cut up cubed bread bake and make croutons, great for salad and soups!!!

Guest's picture

We refresh stale French bread by spraying uncut loaf with water, so it's almost dripping, then put in a hot oven for 3-5 minutes. Center is soft, outside is crusty.