We all know that the taste and quality are at the inside of the bread. So it is so important for you to know how to keep homemade fresh. Otherwise, you will risk your fresh bread going stale before getting the chance to enjoy it.
Our handy guide will show you how to keep homemade bread fresh and prolong its shelf life.
Because no one wants to waste a single crumb of these yummy carbohydrate masterpieces!
But, before getting to know how to keep homemade bread fresh, you need to know this,
How bread turns stale?
When you take your crusty loaf of bread out of the oven and let it cool down, it is at the highest level of freshness.
After some time of exposure to air, it turns to stale bread. Actually, there are two culprits of stale bread.
The first one is starch retrogradation, in which the molecules’ structure change and start to crystallize.
Crystallization forces water out of your homemade bread. and causes unpleasant, nasty staleness. (too much chemistry, ha?)
The second one is the loss of moisture because of air exposure.
Stale bread loses its freshness, and crispy crust turns chewy. and dry and needs so much chewing to be eaten.
How to Keep Homemade Bread Fresh?
In fact, there are various ways to keep your bread fresh, depending on the bread type and how long you want to store it.
And let me tell you that room temperature is also great for maintaining proper crispy crust to your fresh baked bread, but not for more than 2 days
All of the following methods will keep your crusty bread from exposure to moisture or dryness.
But each method has its pros and cons so you need to choose the one that is appropriate for your bread type.
Method #1. Don’t slice the homemade bread right away after baking
The first and most important method for how to keep homemade bread fresh is waiting for the crusty bread to cool down before slicing it.
Why? Because slicing fresh homemade bread right after baking will give a not pleasant gummy and sticky interior. And that is due to the starch retrogradation that happens right after taking the loaf out of the oven and needs some time to firm up.
I know that fresh homemade bread is hard to resist, but you need to wait for 1 to 2 hrs to slice it, whether with your bread knife or bread machine. (check our list of best bread knives and best electric bread slicers)
It is important to mention that you need to leave the 100% whole grain loaf of bread to rest for 2 to 3 days. Because it is hydrated higher than the other types of bread. Actually, the flavor itself will be better in these 2-3 days.
Method #2. Store bread cut-side down
After your baked bread cooled down, cut it down the middle in half. Then turn the halves in a way that the crumb faces the cutting board.
This will surround the inside of the baked bread with the crispy crust, protecting it from drying out.
Actually, the precious crispy crust is a natural bag that keeps the moisture inside and dryness outside.
Method #3. Store your homemade bread in a bread box
Let me tell you that a bread box is an ideal way to keep your fresh bread. It helps the fresh bread to breathe with no exposure to so much air that dries it out.
The bread box does not have to be built into your kitchen cabinet. There are various models that are free-standing kitchens cabinets. They can be made of metal, ceramic, or wood that can easily rest on your countertop.
It is okay if you don’t have a bread box. You can cover the loaf of homemade bread with any clean, dry towel. And then put it in a paper bread bag or a linen bread bag.
This method is just like the bread box. it lets the fresh-baked bread breathe while protecting the interior.
Method #4. Store the bread in a plastic bag
Plastic wrap can be either the best or the worst way to keep the homemade bread fresh. Let me explain.
When your wrap your sourdough bread, French bread, crusty bread, or whatever with plastic wrap and then keep it in a dry place or cool temperature. the fresh bread life will be extended.
On the other hand, if there is even a single drop of moisture when it turns to water, it will incubate in the non-breathable plastic wrap. Leading to mushy and moldy homemade bread.
In fact, the plastic wrap or plastic bag method is more efficient in drier climates.
Method #5. Freezing bread
If you are still wondering how to keep homemade bread fresh, freezing bread is another great option.
Storing your homemade loaf of bread in the freezer can keep it fresh for up to 2 months. But not more than this, otherwise the poor loaf will suffer from freezer burn.
All you need is to wrap them in plastic wrap or place them directly in a freezer bag to store in the freezer. You need to ensure that all the moisture or condensations are sucked out of the freezer bag.
You can slice the entire loaf of bread before storing it in the freezer. It is a nice trick to save time as bread slices melts quicker for easy placing in the toaster oven.
Here is a nice trick. Before freezing bread, you can slice the entire loaf. As bread slices thaw quicker, making it easy for you to place into the toaster later.
Method #6. Store homemade bread in aluminum wrap
Another good hack is to wrap the freshly and cooled baked bread after slicing it in aluminum foil wrap.
Here is how to keep homemade bread fresh for a longer time, slice your homemade loaf of bread when it cools down, and then slice it, and wrap it in aluminum foil and keep it at room temperature.
For better results, you better store the wrapped homemade loaf in an airtight bag. If you want to store bread for more than three days, we recommend storing the airtight bag in the freezer.
Does Storing Different Types of Bread Need Different Methods?
The answer is yes. The storage style depends on the type of bread.
A plastic bag is ideal for your store bought bread with tender crusts, while a paper bag is perfect for hard- crusted bread.
Because when the crusty loaf dries, the hard crust absorbs the moisture pushed out of the loaf, turning it rubbery and tough.
Here is good news for you; Sourdough bread can stay fresh for a longer time than “straight dough bread. ” It does not need to be stored in a plastic bag, linen bag, or even a bread bin.
That is due to the high acidity of sourdough (low pH) that creates an environment not friendly for mold spores. And same goes with bread made with tangzhong starter.
How to revive stale bread?
Stale bread is not the end of the world; in fact, partially stale bread can be refreshed. How so? Easy peasy.
Simply wrap the stale bread in aluminum foil (whether frozen or not). Then reheat it in the oven for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. to draw the moisture out of the crusty bread and enhance its taste.
After covering the bread in a damp paper towel, microwave it for 2 minutes. This allows reviving stale sandwich bread, baguettes, sourdough loaf, and French bread.
You can also refresh stale homemade bread by running the loaf under tap water till its crust gets wet. And then, put it on the baking sheet and heat in the oven for ten mins to 180 degrees.
The starch molecules will absorb water and bring your stale bread back to life!
Here is another trick. Add apple slices to the package of your stale store bough bread or homemade bread. They will soften the bread and give it a second chance.
You can also use the stale leftover bread in so many delicious recipes, like
- leftover bread croutons
- Italian breadcrumbs
- Italian sweet bread pudding
- French onion soup
- Baked French toast casserole
- Bread pudding muffins with cinnamon custard.
Does keeping bread in the refrigerator make it last longer?
It is not recommended to store your homemade bread in the fridge. Since the starch molecules will recrystallize faster, and the bread will stale quicker.
Instead, store your artisan bread (aka artisanal bread), wheat bread, banana bread, or homemade sourdough in a cloth bag. Or an airtight plastic bag at room temperature.
The answer to how to keep homemade bread fresh, plus its longevity actually depends on its type, ingredients (it is all about the bread dough!), and preservatives.
A starchy loaf of bread that is rich in protein will last longer. while the lighter bread can last less (not if you freeze it as we mentioned, obviously!
Now I expect you never to have stale homemade bread! And even if you did, you will know how to refresh it and make the most of it.
If you have any other tips and tricks for how to keep homemade bread fresh. You are so welcomed to share them with us in the comment box below.