Fresh bread, unless it’s loaded with preservatives, does not maintain its garden cup freshness for long. There are many ways people utilize to keep bread fresh but most of these will only give an extra day or two, if that. There is one proven way to extend the shelf life of bread, but first let’s look at the alternatives:

The classic way is to use a bread box or bread bin. The old fashioned wooden ones tend to work better than plastic or metal ones, but they trap moisture in the air and cause it to condense in the box, actually hastening mold, and particularly plastic ones. Other popular methods are refrigeration or freezing. Whilst refrigeration can delay molding it will accelerate the process if moisture gets trapped inside the plastic bag.

Staleness (where the bread gets harder), happens wherever you keep it. Bread goes stale due to the gluten proteins knitting back together after cooking, making the bread tougher. Bread is only soft where gluten is present; when it is fresh the gluten protein strands are long and stretched. Believe it or not, bread stales much faster at lower temperatures, this results from a change in the starch fraction of wheat flour involving crystallization, or retro gradation. If bread is stored at higher temperatures it becomes moldy much faster. The starch crystallization reaction can be reversed, which is why stale bread can be softened by gentle heating. The normal commercial method to delay staling is the use of additives like glycerol monostearate or methylcellulose; molding can be partly inhibited by using an antimicrobial, like propionic acid.

Other alternatives include:

Let freshly baked bread completely cool before storing it. Wrapping it too soon causes condensation to form which is absorbed into the bread, making it soggy and accelerating mold growth.

Keep bread at room temperature in a paper bag. For longer periods of storage time keep bread in the freezer, first wrap it in aluminum foil and then in an airtight plastic bag. Keep it whole to prevent freezer burn.Frozen bread should be thawed at room temperature. Warm it up before eating for about 10 minutes in the oven at 350 degree F. Or, insert a dish cloth into the bag the bread came in and arrange it so the bag won’t stretch beyond its capacity. Squeeze as much air as possible from the bag and seal it with a twist tie.

Put the bag in the freezer, it should last for months. To thaw the bread, open the bag and remove the cloth, then put the bag of bread in the refrigerator. It will take hours to thaw, but it won’t be soggy or hard.


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