Bread Storage Q & A

A reader recently wrote in asking how best to store bread. I figured it’d be best to ask some real bread people. I thought that someoneart courtesy of Zingerman's at Zingerman’s, a Michigan, mail-order bakeshop that ships breads all over the world would have some insight. And Zingerman’s customer service specialist Paul LaDuca certainly did.

What’s the most important thing about storing bread?

Obviously the best way to enjoy bread is to eat it freshly baked. If you’re going to store bread, the best way is in a bread box, to keep air away from the loaf.

I tend to keep my bread in the oven. It’s like a big bread box in that it keeps almost all the air out. But you have to remember to take it out before you turn on the oven. I’ve forgotten to do that a few times and that can get ugly.

Should We Store Our Bread in Plastic Bags?

art courtesy of Zingerman'sPlastic bags are not good. They wick moisture away from the inside of the bread and pull it to the crust, which ends up softening the crust. The crust should be like a protective layer. If you cut a fresh loaf, rest it on the crumb [the non-crust, or inside].

If not plastic, what then?

If you’re gonna store it, you want to use Paper bags or something that allows the bread to breathe.

Never put bread in the fridge. While it’ll last longer, it will get dried out.

How do you avoid bread getting moldy?

Mold grows in moist conditions. It happens moreart courtesy of Zingerman's frequently in the summer because it’s hotter out and more humid, which provides a playground for those organisms.

The best storage technique is to keep bread in a controlled environment, but it’s a time/conditions thing. Having your house air conditioned helps. Air needs to be able to move around a little bit. A bread box is almost completely air tight, but it still allows a little air to move.

How about a vacuum sealer?

A vacuum sealer is not a great thing because it sucks out all of the air. It could implode your bread because there’s air in the courtesy of Zingerman's

What’s your take on freezing bread?

The freezer is a good solution. I usually freeze what I don’t need, double wrapping it in a plastic bag. Then reheating it really is like having a fresh baked loaf. Like we say on our bags, baking frozen bread for 40 minutes at 350 is like making Frankenstein—it really comes alive!

[thanks to Zingerman's for the use of their fun bread artwork]

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  1. Posted August 6, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    i freeze my bread…even letting it thaw if i don’t want it toasted works just fine for me!

  2. Posted August 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh, that is good to know about the bread box. I bake bread alll the time and have been wondering if there is some non-plastic alternative to for storing it. I’ll have to look into a bread box(and for now, I could just use my oven.

  3. Posted August 11, 2008 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    LOL at the vacuum sealer bit. I once tried to seal some hotdog buns – they were rendered flat – it was not a success!

  4. Marie
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I store artisan style breads cut side down on a wooden cutting board – it lets the bread breathe but keeps the cut side fairly fresh.

  5. Matt
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Hey there. Just thought I’d chime in with another tip.

    Bread storage solutions which dry out bread are not to be feared if you are adept at re-hydrating. The simplest way I’ve found to do this is to wet a dish towel, place it over the bread you wish to re-hydrate, and microwave it for ten to twenty seconds.

  6. Ray Masterson
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Okay Zingermans. I’ve been buying your bread for almost five years and love it. But please tell me after I’ve just read this advice from you why every time I get a delivery of your bread it comes with two plastic bags and a twisty with instructions on how to freeze it.

  7. Mike Kolcun
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Has anyone used something like this?

    I suppose the cotton would allow the bread to breathe.

  8. AC
    Posted August 12, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    “Plastic bags are not good. They wick moisture away from the inside of the bread and pull it to the crust, which ends up softening the crust.”

    It’s a bit misleading to imply that the plastic bag is pulling the moisture out of the bread. Moisture will leave the bread regardless (unless the humidity in the surrounding air is as high as the bread), the plastic bag simply traps the moisture so you end up with more moisture in the crust causing it to become soft. My preferred method is to keep the bread in the paper bag, then put the paper bag inside a semi-open plastic bag. Slicing then freezing is also a good method, toast when needed, or make sandwiches with the frozen slices, they thaw in a couple of hours.

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