The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BREAD STORAGE

sybram's picture
sybram

BREAD STORAGE

I'm still a little fuzzy about how to store the different breads.  Do you remember when you first started, and you read and read and read?  Well, that's where I am, and I know I remember reading that you leave the crusty breads out on the counter.  Do all others go in a plastic Zip-Lock?  How do I determine if the crust is hard enough to leave out?  Or is it the breads with (or without) certain ingredients that need plastic or not?


Syb

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hello Syb,  My biggest wish for a place to keep my bread would be a great big old fashioned wooden bread box I gave away years ago and room on the counter for it ; )


Sylvia

sybram's picture
sybram

Yep, that room word is a biggie.  My husband mounted my wooden bread box on the wall over my counter, so it was somewhat up and out of the way.  Of course, it had to stay in the house when we sold it, so..................here we are back to plastic, paper or left open? 

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I still have one of those wooden boxes.  It's not old but it's made of wood.  I don't use it to store bread though.  Think we have some crystal goblets in it now.   Keeping our breads in the wooden box or not, we still need to wrap them because we live in a very dry area where unwraapped breads will go dried and hard in a matter of hours. 


Susan's picture
Susan

Here's what I do:


Crusty loaves:  Leave on the bread board, cut side down, for up to 24 hours.  After that, store in a plastic bag.  Don't expect a crispy crust after plastic bag storage.  It will be chewy.


All other loaves: After they're completely cool, store them in a plastic bag.


For longer storage:  Freeze, either sliced or not.  Do not store bread in the refrigerator.


Generally, sourdough lasts longer than yeast bread without staling or molding.


I agree with althetrainer that your climate will impact storage times and methods.  There are no hard-and-fast rules that will work for everyone.


Good question, and thanks for asking.


Susan from San Diego

sybram's picture
sybram

Thanks Susan.  Your method is basically what I've been doing, but wasn't sure.  I haven't stored bread in the fridge, but only because my fridge is always so full.  I really thought it might help ward off drying out, but only after the first 24 hours or so, when it's starting to go stale.  Of course, I'm not talking about sourdough, which stays fresh longer.


Syb

BNLeuck's picture
BNLeuck

NEVER STORE IN PLASTIC WRAP! For the love of all that is holy, do not do it! Especially high fat breads. It's like begging for mold. >.> My poor pumpkin bread...

sybram's picture
sybram

If not plastic, then what?

sybram's picture
sybram

Actually, I think for something like pumpkin bread, I would put in plastic and keep in the fridge.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Then again what about a paper grocery bag as a "bread box"  or once wrapped in paper, a loaf can rest in a loose plastic bag.  I use only plastic crap when the seeds or crust is too hard or they get put into the freezer.   A tightly woven cotton/polyester cloth is also an option.  It can even be sewn into bags to be washed like dishtowels.


I have a sis-in-law that just uses an empty kitchen drawer for bread.  I know what you're saying,  "Yah right, who has an empty kitchen drawer?"  When it is closed, it is just closed enough.  Works quite well.  I have actually seen some bread drawers with the cutting board resting on top with a few finger holes for easy lifting and the bread underneath.  


I have a bread bin with a loose flap door and it hangs under my cutting machine which flips out and up and locks into position in front of the counter when I use it.  Pretty nifty.  Uses no counter space.


Mini


(There is also the search box in the upper left corner   ...try wrapping bread or bread bags  or  loaf storage  or cloth bags and see what turns up.

BNLeuck's picture
BNLeuck

That reminds me! I have old baby blankets (the really little ones most people use as spit up rags) sitting in a box somewhere. They're all cotton, dyefast, and pretty tightly woven. I wonder if I could sew two together and make like a pillowcase shaped thing for my bread. I've got tons of the bloody things!

sybram's picture
sybram

Mini, I love that empty kitchen drawer idea, which brings another ? to mind (and I have to ask).  I understand that plastic keeps all the moisture in the product, whatever it is, and if we want a soft loaf (crust and all), it will help us achieve that.   But I can't figure out what help a bread box, paper bag, cloth bag, etc. is, other than to just be some place to keep our bread and keep it clean.  All those containers have air in them, which would be drying, wouldn't it?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes, they have air in them.  From the time a loaf leaves the oven it is slowly drying out as moisture evaporates to the air around the loaf.  If the air is circulating and very dry it speeds up the process.  A little bit of circulation keeps the crust from getting too moist and tends to deter rapid spoiling.  It's another balancing act.


I have noticed these things slow down or limit evaporation:



  • Having a closed space like a bread box, drawer, bag, cardboard box with lid.  This limits circulation of air around the loaf so there is less moisture exchange happening.

  • Lower temperatures slow down evaporation.   I found that at 13°c or 55°F room temperature, I didn't have to wrap my bread at all to keep it fresh.

  • Humidity in the air can also prevent a loaf from drying out,  If it is too high, a salty bread can actually absorb moisture from the air.  Salt decoration on rolls and pretzels will liquify and make a wet surface.


One does have to be careful not to encourage mold at the same time.  That would be to combine heat, surface moisture, darkness and lack of air circulation together.   Plastic bags can be your friend but they can be your worst enemy.  It depends on how they are used.  Plastic bags and foils tend to lay against the loaf trapping the moisture.  This is fine as long as the loaf was properly cooled first and the bagged bread was then placed in a cool location out of direct sunlight and drafts (cold or warm).


If the bread is wrapped in plastic and is also placed in a fluctuating temperature zone, this will cause moisture condensation on the inside of the bag and a wet spots on the crust.  Letting a plastic bagged loaf sit in the sunshine also invites mold due to the solar heating of the loaf and following condensation.  This can also happen near a open window where outside and inside temperatures vary more than 5°c.  This condensation on the loaf not only makes it soggy in spots but invites mold to grow.  It also means that the moisture inside the loaf is not balanced, it could be dry in the middle and wet on the outside.


Bread boxes provide a reserved location with easy access to the bread.  Inside they have a limited amount of circulation and thus a stable temperature & humidity unless they are parked in the sun, by an open window or against a cold wall or above a refrigerator or dishwasher.   Picking a good location for bread storage is very important.


Bread that I plan on toasting, is plastic bagged and stored in the refrigerator. The toaster does a good job of bringing it back to life and the boys always have bread for toasted cheese sandwiches.  Hearth breads get wrapped in paper or a thin cloth and tucked into my bread box or left out on the counter in a protected location, cut side down.


Even in frozen bread moisture can evaporate so it is important to wrap baked loaves as air tight and close together as possible without squishing them.


Did I miss anything?


:) Mini O 


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Is there any difference between the interior of a bread box and a microwave oven - (other than the light inside the microwave turns on when the door is opened)?

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Good observation, mini!  I live near the Rockies where elavation is high (about 3,438 ft above sea level) and air is dry and cold.  Against most people's suggestion, I store my sandwich breads in plastic bags (leftover from grocery store bread), on a counter in an island in my kitchen.  I don't use a bread box simply because the relative humidity in our house is somewhere between 75% and 78%, unless on a rainy day.  The room temperatures are also very constant, between 15C and 17C at night; 17C and 19C during day.  We have a few days in a year when temperature soars to 30C but heat wave like that is very short lived. 


Since I only make sandwich loaves (and a few occaional baugette) storing bread is never a problem for us.  With constant low temperature and humidity, my breads usually stay good for up to 1 week.  But never a loaf last for that long in our house. 


I also noticed a difference between breads made by commercial yeast and sourdough starter.  My sourdough breads last longer and the flavor develops over time.  I actually like my sourdough better at 2 - 3 days.  We always complain about our weather but when it comes to bread storage the climate adds to our favor.


As regard the difference between a bread box and a microwave oven, I guess, there is some air circulation in a bread box where the mircowave oven probably has air so minimal that it's not enough to keep bread fresh.

LindyD's picture
LindyD


As regard the difference between a bread box and a microwave oven, I guess, there is some air circulation in a bread box where the mircowave oven probably has air so minimal that it's not enough to keep bread fresh.



If the goal is to keep air from circulating around the bread, as noted by others here, then wouldn't it follow that the interior of a microwave can multifunction as a bread box? 


Seems reasonable to me...guess I'll have to try it.


 

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I thought the reason plastic bags should not be used to store bread was a lack of air circulation.  I guess it depends on how much air circulation inside a microwave oven.  Please keep us posted on how your microwave "bread box" works for you. 

sybram's picture
sybram

Mini, if my husband were going to make me a breadbox, would it be good to line the inside with something or not?  Same for using a drawer.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Then I suggest a surface that is easy to clean with soap and water (or vinegar) when needed.    Wood surfaces should be smooth.  I might even put a washable surface on the outside bottom of the drawer above the bread drawer.  You will have to deal with crumbs and seeds.  So it is good when you can turn either upside down and knock them out.  A vacuum cleaner sucks them out too.  Use your head, you'll be fine.


 

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco
sybram's picture
sybram

Even though I wouldn't put out $60 for it, I have to say the Fresh Box does look interesting.  I'm wondering if it keeps the different breads in their original state longer, that is, the hard crusts hard and the soft crusts soft, or does it cause the moisture in the bread crumb to absorb throughout the loaf, making the crust softer and the crumb dryer.  What is your experience? 


And thanks for the link.  When I said I wouldn't buy it, it's not that I wouldn't want to.  The $ and very limited counter space are my issues.


Syb

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco

My experience is that it keeps cakes extremely well for a long time, I haven't timed it fully. It keeps bread very well, in top shape long enough for a reasonable time to finish the loaf and better than the fridge. Of course there is some small degradation in the "crustiness". I don't think any method could keep it totally fresh forever unless the chamber was filled with argon ala the Declaration of Independence! :-) 


If it broke beyond repair I would save my pennies for another.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

If you had a Foodsaver with a big enough container, would that work the same as a Fresh Box? Thanks.


--Pamela

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco

As long as the container didn't collapse under vacuum so that it didn't crush the soft bread, it would be fine.

couthars's picture
couthars

Have you seen Nitro-Pac Food Storage and Preservation System? It is a plastic food storage container with a valve on the lid. Place the bread, veggies, fruits, coffee - left overs, just about any food product into the container, and then -through the valve and air tight seal of the box, you give it a few second shot of nitrogen or argon (they sell both). It places a blanket over the food product and keeps them fresh - drastically longer. The website is at www.couthars.com or info@couthars.com

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Do those bread bags they sell along with the green food bags for too much money ($9.99 a box) work?  Consumers found the bags don't work for vegetables, so I don't hold out much hope for the bread bags, but I can't put out $60 for a "Fresh Box" either.


Lately I've been slicing loaf style breads and freezing the slices 2 to a zipper bag. They can be quickly thawed in the microwave or packed frozen to thaw during the morning and they taste OK.  Better than stale bread, just slightly under the quality of fresh.  

sybram's picture
sybram

Hate to say it, but I got sucked into that "green bag" con and ordered some.  We tested fruits and veggies in the greenies and out, and we saw no difference.  I hate it when that happens, don't you?  I can't address the bread bag issue.  I've never even seen the ad.

BNLeuck's picture
BNLeuck

...are a mixed bag. Pun intended. They seem to work for grapes, extending their life about a week in the fridge. Bananas are a total bust. Apples seem to get a few extra days in the fridge, but not any out of it. I haven't tried strawberries or cherries, though I intend to try cherries soon, but I don't expect anything different. The jist is, for the money, they aren't worth it. They don't seem to do much for any produce out of the fridge, and in the fridge, the benefit is minimal. Get a little less produce and have to go to the store a few days to a week sooner. Not really an imposition unless you live a ways from your produce source. Incidentally, we bought the Debbie Meyer Green Bags, not some knock-off.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

made from stainless steel that Eric sells on Breadtopia.com? See ...


http://www.breadtopia.com/store/product85.html


David

xaipete's picture
xaipete

That's what I use but I don't leave the bread open in it--it just seems too big for that. I wrap up my bread in full sheets of inexpensive parchment paper and then store in the box.


The description of the box at breatopia cracks me up:



Rubberized door stop helps dampen noise when closing.



Is that so no one notices you are sneaking a piece of bread out?


--Pamela

photojess's picture
photojess

never thought about a stainless one, but that would look nice on the counter.

proth5's picture
proth5

The bread box at www.poilane.fr ( you must carefully mouse over the semi- circular shape on the second shelf from the top on the right hand side to see the details.)


Just 244 Euro plus shipping!  To store only miches.  We can dream.


For a while I was storing my bread in linen bags, but switched to plastic tubs.  The linen bags worked well for a couple days even in my dry area, but no more than a couple days.  I find that no matter how bread is stored it suffers.  Ah well!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I'll never get any work done if I don't drag myself away from Poilane sudoku, Pat.


Thanks for that link.  It's quite enchanting - especially the downloadable paper version of the bakery.

photojess's picture
photojess

I just accidentally found this on JC penny's site, and it's really pretty too, but have no idea about the functionality.....does anyone else know?


And it's on sale! http://www4.jcpenney.com/jcp/X6.aspx?GrpTyp=PRD&ItemID=14d8085&RefPage=X6&deptID=57089&catID=58140&cmOrigID=141f2e9&cmPosID=3&CmCatId=57089|57351|58140

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

when all else fails, I might have to part with my 5 glass bowls which I hardly ever use, make room in the garage for them and use that freed-up shelf space in my cabinet for a bread box. I could put a tea towel on the bottom and voila ! 


Hmmm

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

I purchased a Sterlite self-contained drawer, 12" wide x 16" deep and 7.5" high, which sits perfectly on a side counter and with its flat top offers additional storage.


I am now experimenting with either covering its inside bottom with a tea towel or a paper towel or just leave the way it is. But keeping the bread crusty will be a hopeless feat.

turosdolci's picture
turosdolci

I live in Switzerland in the Alps. The air is dry and I don't make fresh bread as we buy it every morning at the bakeries here. The bread is fantastic and no preservatives.  I only keep it stored in a paper bag.  But it is never as good the next day.  I grate it for bread crumbs and am able to use it in stuffings etc. But I never wrap it in plastic, in fact if you are going to wrap it use foil, it doesn't hold the moisture in.  I wrap all my cheese in foil also and it lasts much longer without getting moldy. Fresh bread just is never as good left over.  But there are a lot of things you can do with day old bread. Soaking it in egg for french toast, or bread pudding, for stuffings, coating veal or eggplant or maybe Tuscan tomato and bread salad etc. I think trying to find ways to use it is a good solution.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

To be perfectly honest, we are greedy and tend to eat all our breads the day-of-baking, so I am a bit underqualified... 


But I remember reading somewhere that the addition of a pinch of ginger - which I routinely put in different breads as a dough enhancer - actually acts as a preservative.  It makes some sense to me - does anybody else know if this is true?  


I think the addition of fats into a dough helps too, but again, there are more expert people than I.  


But there's a proverb here - "we do not eat Saturday's bread on Sunday" - still, there has to be a way!  Good luck!

maddy bondi's picture
maddy bondi

Here in Sydney we get pretty humid weather sometimes. Regardless, I have found for a long time now that genuine sourdough from your own home starter will outlast regular yeasted bread by 3 or 4 times as long.


I usually make crusty loaves with flour, salt and water only. I find they are yum in the first 24 hours fresh, but make good toast after that for at least a week (if they last that long).Only once, as this has been a particularly humid summer for us, have I found mould, but only after 10-12 days (a rare thing it sat out that long!)


I  keep loaves in a plastic bag with small holes punched in it in my fruit bowl or basket on the kitchen table. (NOTE: Green bags are a con: they merely have microscopic holes in them to let the toxins out, but a normal bag left open at the end will do just as nicely, or tupperware lined with paper towels for veges, just an aside)


Even a 10 day old, hard bit of sourdough will toast up nicely.


10 seconds in the microwave can turn a 3 day old slice back to 'soft' just baked texture.