You want to protect your bread from going mouldy, but have heard that it shouldn’t go in the fridge? This article will help you figure out what to do!
Maybe you live in a small household, have a large loaf of bread or only eat bread occasionally: There are many reasons why you might use up your bread slowly. But if it goes mouldy, you always have to put it in the bin. So the fridge and freezer are perfect for extending the shelf life of bread! But wait a minute… Didn’t the girlfriend of your best friend’s cousin recently say at their birthday party that leftover bread shouldn’t be stored in the fridge? What were the reasons for this again? Was she actually right and does this mean that bread has to go in the bin more frequently, whether you like it or not?
A fresh, moist loaf of bread is a popular breeding ground for mould spores. That’s because mould loves moisture. In most households, about 15 percent of the food that is thrown away is bread and other baked goods. So the idea of storing bread in the fridge to make the conditions less favourable for mould is very smart. However, this unfortunately has a detrimental effect on the quality of the bread. The bread will go stale quicker between three and five degrees Celsius. There is thus some validity to the myth. So, what should you do?
Pros and cons: making decisions on a case-by-case basis
Better stale than mouldy! If you use up bread very slowly, then freezing it is the best option. Cut it into slices and then freeze it in small portions. Your toaster will turn your icy slices into crisp, tasty bread in next to no time. Alternatively, you can take the bread out of the freezer a few hours before you plan on eating it and let the air thaw it out. A whole loaf needs about five hours to defrost.
Apart from on hot and humid summer days, room temperature is well suited for storing bread. Temperatures between 15 °C and 18 °C in a dry and well-ventilated place are ideal. A few tips will ensure that your bread keeps for a longer time. Plastic bags and other air-tight containers are not suitable as storage options. That’s because air-tight packaging prevents drying out and thus fosters the formation of mould. The moisture in the bread is drawn to the outside. If it can’t evaporate, it collects on the surface. This makes it an easy target for mould and other germs.
Therefore earthenware or ceramic jars with a lid or bread bags are the better alternatives. In contrast, the normal paper bags you get from the bakery are not ideal because they draw out additional moisture from the bread. This also makes the bread go stale more quickly. Generally speaking, it’s best to store bread with the cut side facing downwards in order for it to stay fresher for longer. You should also make sure everything is kept clean, by regularly removing scraps and crumbs and cleaning the storage container with water and vinegar once a week. Another tip: Always only buy small amounts of bread, as this reduces the likelihood that you will have to dispose of mouldy bread.
Quality right from the start: Pay attention when you’re shopping
Your bread will go stale more slowly depending on the type and quality of bread you buy. Whole grain and sourdough breads generally keep longer than white or yeast breads. The rule of thumb is: the whiter the bread, the faster it will go off. This is due to the particularly high wheat content. In contrast, rye and wholegrain flour as well as sourdough retain moisture significantly better, helping ensure longer-lasting freshness. White bread, for example, only stays fresh for a maximum of three days under ideal storage conditions, whereas rye bread can often last for a whole week.
The production method is also a freshness factor. The key thing here is: a long proofing time. This gives the bread more time to rise and the flour more time to bind with the added water. This means that bakers can add even more water. The result is an especially moist bread, which stays fresher for longer – even in the fridge. So it’s best to buy your bread from a baker you trust, as the increased quality is well worthwhile!
Not bad: making the most out of dry bread
As opposed to mould formation, dryness is not a reason to throw bread away. The following options facilitate maximum enjoyment instead of a dry chewing experience. One option is to rub bread and other baked goods with some water and bake them in the oven. After about ten minutes they are usually tasty again. Even just toasting slices can render surprising results and provide an especially delicious and crispy taste. Plus there are other creative ways to use old bread. Whether it’s homemade breadcrumbs, bread pudding or crispy croutons and bread chips: there’s really no reason to throw away mould-free bread!
Bread chips, for example, are really easy to make using a little melted butter or oil, onion, garlic and herbs. Cut the old bread into very thin slices, place it on a baking tray covered with baking paper and coat the slices with the seasoned butter or oil. After a few minutes in the oven at 180 °C, the slices will turn golden brown and crispy. The cooled chips will keep in a glass or cookie jar for a few days or even weeks. But it’s important to note: fresh ingredients like onion and garlic do reduce shelf-life considerably.
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