The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

question about keeping bread fresh

  • Pin It
varda's picture
varda

question about keeping bread fresh

Hi,   I have filled my freezer with bread, and I have more loaves that won't be sold for 2 days.  How to preserve freshness outside of freezer?   These are high percentage ryes, that I would be fine with leaving out for 1 day, but don't know about two.     Can the refrigerator be of help if the breads are properly wrapped?   Wrap them up and leave them at room temperature?   Thanks.  -Varda

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Interesting challenge, Varda.

I haven't put bread in the fridge in years and wouldn't do that to your obras de arte, nor to your customers.  Maybe buy a smallish chest freezer?  We have one in the garage we eat out of all winter for our summer garden produce -- wasn't terribly expensive.

A cottage/family bakery near us, perhaps a notch above your scale, vacuum seals all their loaves in thick plastic.  They obviously have one of those $200-400 vacuum sealers (or maybe $more if it's 'commercial') you can find here and there (I saw the best selection at a hunting big box store, not surprisingly I guess -- Cabela's probably has them online).  I don't particularly like this family's breads -- tend to be dense and decidedly un-artisan like -- odd.  That makes it hard to tell just how well the vacuum sealing is working because their breads are so dense and heavy to begin with.

Another possibility that's a bit more techie moderniste I imagine would be to acquire a small vacuum pump and try to find large (i.e., ~5-10 loaf) vacuum sealable containers -- with a vacuum port on the lid.  To be honest, I don't know where or if such beasts exist, but it would seem worthwhile to be able to drop a batch of your freshly cooled loaves into such containers and pull a vacuum on the whole thing.  Then pop the seal when you get to market.  Should exist but I'm guessing.

Something I'd recommend for your nascent enterprise is a practice I admired at Hewn, a newish and wonderful artisan bakery in Evanston, IL.  They wrap each loaf in white paper that's hand-stamped with their logo and tie each up with string.  A really nice feature that gently but very effectively reinforces the handcraftedness of the product.  You could paper wrap each loaf before dropping into sealable containers above.  Yeah, more work.

Good luck!

Tom

varda's picture
varda

Tom.  I had never thought of that.   I see the vacuum packing equipment at costco but don't know if that's the same as what you are talking about.   Wonder what it does to the crust?   Still crisp when it comes out?   Intriguing.   Thanks for the suggestion.   -Varda

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

We don't have Costco in these parts so I don't know what they sell.  Crust?  Are your crusts still crispy/brittle out of the freezer?  Mine sure aren't.  I don't know of any way to preserve that, apart from just leaving at room temp wrapped in paper or cloth.  A lot to ask.

And I can't believe that all it took was for me to use the word "Cabela" in my comment above to elicit targeted Cabela ads at the bottom of Floyd's page.  Creepy.

t

varda's picture
varda

not good for crusts, have to rebake for a couple minutes to crisp them back up.   But I don't think I've found the best solution yet.   They really should be completely defrosted before heating or the moisture from the defrosting just softens the crust up again.   But how long does it take to defrost a 1.5 lb bread all the way through?   I'm still stumbling around here.   So I'm thinking.  

Bake

Cool

Wrap in plastic then freezer ziplock

Freeze

Unfreeze - night before seems like too long, morning of seems like too short - probably need a good 4 hours - and should you leave plastic wrapping on during defrost?

Heat at 350 for 10 minutes to crisp up crust - unwrapped?   wrapped?

Let cool

But aside from that vacuum sealing?   another freezer? 

I don't even know what Cabela is so didn't notice the ad.   It's annoying when you buy something and then the ads for that thing follow you around,   I already bought it guys.   Train has left the station.  

 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Let the bread cool after baking for approximately 1 to 2 hours depending on how dry the air is. This will remove enough excess moisture to prevent excessive condensation on the sealed plastic sacks you will place them into - refrigerate till needed.

Wild-Yeast

varda's picture
varda

When I was a kid we refrigerated bread and it tasted awful.   But it seems to  me that is because the moisture is leached out in the cold air (while in the freezer the moisture freezes before it can be drawn out.)   So with good enough sealing the refrigerator should be fine.   But it would seem that you would have to recrisp crusts here too, yes?  -Varda

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

after cooling, each in waxed paper, and then together inside a thick paper bag and keep them cool but not refrigerated.  Wrapping each keeps them from crumbling off on each other yet retain their moisture.  

Mini

varda's picture
varda

of wax paper.   And I do have very heavy paper from used flour bags which I have been throwing out.   Maybe I should try that.   Too many things to try.   Thanks Mini.  -Varda

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Varda,  I can't offer much help in what will work, but don't think you will be very happy with a vacuum sealer.   I bought a few containers that pull a vacuum, and tried them for bread, and was not thrilled with the results in keeping the bread fresh, though I agree it did not crush the bread. In terms of sealing in plastic bags, not a container, you would need a chamber sealer, which would probably run $500 or more.  A vacuum sealer would probably compress the loaf too much ( go on you tube and you can see vacuum sealers that crush empty soda cans )  A chamber sealer works in a different way, and you can set that not to crush the food.  For storing in the freezer, I get my best results with first wrapping in ordinary plastic wrap, putting that in a freezer ziplock, and using a straw to suck out all the air, without compressing the loaf, then sealing the ziplock, then putting the ziplock in a mylar ziplock storage bag, and using the straw again to suck out all the air.  The regular ziplock bags let air migrate through the plastic and the seal, the mylar is much better at stopping that airflow.   That might work for storage on a counter.  

varda's picture
varda

are new ideas for me.   Needs experimentation.    Thanks.  -Varda

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Wow Barry.  Maybe that's exactly why my local cotttage baker's vacuum sealed loaves are always so dense:  they get that way during the vacuum sealing process.  So chamber sealing seems like the only vacuum alternative.

I freeze our weekly miche in quarters, just as you've described:  double freezer-bagged (instead of plastic wrap on inner) and straw-pulled vacuums on inner and outer.  Works well, but still never like the never-frozen quarter that gets left out.  Crispy crusts are over-rated imho.  Great when you can enjoy them but very hard to achieve if not freshly cooled out of the oven, or re-heated, which we never find worth it.  As long as they taste very Maillardy, I'm happy.  Then again, toasting -- that's a different matter.

Varda, while crispy crusts may be attractive to your customers, I'm not sure such are a reasonable objective for market baking like you do, over a period of a few days prior.  I'd just tell your customers how to crisp it back up when they get it home.  Maybe even have a little give-away How-To-Re-Crisp instruction chit to hand them.

Tom

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Varda,  on a small scale,  when my loaf has been sitting around for two days and the crust is now super hard, I put the bread into one of these  "your bananas will not get ripe for a month"-type bags - "as seen on TV" which actually works, imo.  The crust gets a bit softer and I have had bread in these plastic sleeves for over 10 days before they start to look questionable but still taste very good.  Other than that, I have heard that bread does well in these plastic bags which have tiny holes to allow air circulation (albeit one can only buy 1000 for about $35 and I preferred to spent my allowance on knitting yarn, grin).  I also made a few bread bags from flour sacks which keeps the bread fresh for maybe 4 days. 

And, yes, freezing is definitely doable and after acclimation, throwing them into a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes to revive the crust.

Anna

varda's picture
varda

But how do you handle the unfreeze end?   I find with Challah you can just take the bread out and unwrap it and defrost and it's ready to eat, but with crusty breads - no.   Needs more work.  -Varda

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

If you remove the air from the bread you wind up with smashed bread. At least if it is in a flexible bag when the air is removed. That is to say, the bag will crush the bread. 

Maybe if it was in a Tupperware type container when vacuum sealed it would work if you just removed enough air to create a seal. (You can do that in a bag too bit it takes a light touch.)

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Varda,  this is how I unfreeze : >>And, yes, freezing is definitely doable and after acclimation, throwing them into a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes to revive the crust.<<  i.e.  let it defrost first then throw it into the 300 degree oven for 10 min  for a recrunching of the crust  :)

 

varda's picture
varda

Hi Anna,   I did this last week, but think I underestimated defrost time.   How long do you defrost?   I tried two hours and I think the center was still frozen, as the loaf softened again after heating.  

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

Varda, I have no answer.  I usually take out the bread in the morning and leave it on the counter for at least  6 hrs before "recrusting" .    Guess we could take the internal temp on a freshly baked, cooled down bread, and have an idea what it should be once properly defrosted.

 

varda's picture
varda

I did 2.5 hours this morning - then 13 minutes in 350 oven.   This was ok, but not ideal - think 3-4 hours is more like it - then a shorter cooler time in the oven.   But right direction.  Thanks.  -Varda

lizzy0523's picture
lizzy0523

I know this isn't an answer to the question you posed (best way to store baked loaves) but I'm curious: have you experimented with freezing the unbaked doughs? It seems to me that if you could perfect this method you could do most of the work for your least shelf-stable breads at your leisure, pop them in the freezer (where they will take up less room), and then have a "bake day" the day before the market. You wouldn't have to worry about keeping them fresh and your customers would get awesome breads. 

I'm rather novice, so I don't know if it's established knowledge that the freezing doesn't work, I just know that I have several books that say it's fine to do. I am curious to hear the take of those who are elder and wiser :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I wonder what replacing the air in a chest container with CO2 or argon gas would do?  Is oxygen the problem? If so, does it makes sense to replace it?   Or is evaporation and loss of moisture the problem?  Even in the freezer evaporation continues, just at a slower rate.  There are argon dispensers for wine bottles, a little shot and then cork.  Curious how that works.  Would that work in a bagged loaf?

What if the loaves instead of a vacuum where put under pressure?  From a practical point of view seems impossible, but has anyone ever tried storing bread in a pressure chamber?  I wouldn't do it with divers in there, they'd eat up the experiment.  But I'm just thinking outside of the box for a little bit.

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Ok, I'm intrigued.  I have access to a vacuum pump and sealable chambers.  I'm going to seal up a freshly baked, paper-wrapped miche quarter in one, next time I bake (not for ~2w ... on the road for a spell starting tomorrow) and see how it compares to another quarter double-bagged in the freezer.  Hopefully it won't descend into insanity.

Argon or CO2 air replacement - harder to engineer with what I have at hand, but Mini, as always your outsidethebox thinking is a kick (recalling your alternatives to "Yeast Affection"....).  Would CO2 retard water loss?  Somehow I don't think so but...dunno.

Tom

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Tom, you might have to do a few experiments.  This is the Vacucraft I bought for my experiments http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009BH3S4I/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1.  I tried slicing the bread and then putting it into a container and leaving the container on the counter.  I was hoping to dramatically extend the life, and didn't see that, though I only tried a few times.   The reason I suggest a number of tests is that you would have to compare sliced to unsliced, and the number of days would be a factor, as well as the type of bread.  I tried using ciabatta, the taste of the freezer version was fine, but the texture definitely changed from being in the freezer.  To do a true test, you would also have to do a control loaf on the counter and see how that did day by day. While I started to do a more detailed test, I read a suggestion to mix lettuce greens ahead of time and store them in these containers,  and that has worked unbelievably well ( I get about 2 weeks use out of lettuce, carrots and spinach premixed in a vac container - which is opened every day, then resealed and put in the fridge till the next day, so the bread is not getting any more time in the containers.