As a society, we invest in organic foods daily, buying our bread is no different. The price of supermarket types compared to high-end breads purchased at an organic-style bakery is quite substantial, so we often wonder ‘where should we store our bread’?
If there is leftover, do we store it in a bread bin or in the refrigerator? Well, it depends, is it short-term or long-term storing, will you consume it over the next couple of days or keep it for next week’s lunchbox.
How long is too long?
Whilst many consume only the freshest of foods, others are happy with a loaf that’s a few days old. Just keep in mind, bread does not store well at low temperatures – it dries out, the crust becomes hard, and the taste disappears. Bread starts to grow stale from the moment it leaves the oven and begins to cool down. Although we don’t notice this at first, as time goes by it becomes obvious.
The stale process
Bread stales due to a host of chemical and physical processes that kick in, such as the crystallisation of starch (retrogradation). As it ages, the gelatinised starch which binds with water during baking starts to release the bound water again. This moisture rises to the surface of the crust where it then evaporates, which causes changes in its weight and texture. This process can only be prevented by freezing the loaf. If bread is refrigerated above freezing point, the combination of low temperature and the movement of air in the freezer will promote retrogradation. Be mindful, bread grows stale faster in the refrigerator than it does at room temperature.
Another thing to be mindful of when storing, is the type and its ingredients, the staling process occurs at a different rate for various types of breads. For example:
- Wheat breads tend to go stale quicker than rye.
- Bread prepared with light, refined flour will age faster than those made from wholegrain flour.
Frozen bread keep well for several weeks
There are many reasons why people choose to store breads. If you do want to store for a longer period, freezing is the recommended option. It’s worth noting that sliced bread thaws much more quickly than unsliced. When you’re freezing fresh bread, ensure that you get its temperature below -18°C as quickly as possible. Frozen bread keeps well for weeks and, when you want to use it, thaw it at room temperature.
Storage and hygiene
- Packaged bread stores well in its original packaging.
- Store unpackaged bread in a well-ventilated container.
- Placing bread on wooden or plastic slats inside a well-ventilated container enhances air circulation, reduces moisture. Unventilated containers promote condensation which encourages mould growth.
- Breadcrumbs and humidity encourage the formation of mould.
Advantages of storing your loaf in a traditional bread bin or ceramic/clay bread pot
The open pores of an earthenware container absorb excess moisture and returns moisture to the loaf when it starts to dry out.
Remember the best kind of bread is the fresh kind, but if you do need to store, keep it at room temperature for the first day or two, then wrap it up and pop it straight into the freezer.