The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to give bread a longer shelf life?

pcasebere's picture

How to give bread a longer shelf life?

..we're going to a festival here in a few days and would love to bring bread, however I'm afraid of the bread turning hard by the time we get there (3+ days).  Should I reduce/increase the salt content, add more honey, or...


..really I have no clue, so I'm asking for your tips and tricks of baking bread for the road.  I was planning on a flat bread (like naan), some muffins, and a loaf of "sandwich bread."  Any thoughts?!

althetrainer's picture

how to keep freshness longer is to use sourdough.  I don't know about where you live but I live in an area where it's cold and dry; my sourdough breads are good for a week . In fact, by day 3, the flavor really heightens and the sourness is just about right between the 3rd and 4th day.  Last Saturday I made two loaves of sourdough so I kept one loaf in the freezer.  I got it out of the freezer this morning to thaw in our kitchen for a few hours.  Thought I would have to  use them for toasts but when I took one bite, the flavor was beautiful!  No toaster needed!

arzajac's picture

Either use a preferment or retard your dough for a long period of time before you cook it.

For example, mix your ingredients together (including the yeast) and let it sit on the counter overnight.  In the morning (or later on the next day) knead or otherwise continue making your dough.  Proof, shape and bake as usual. 

You can do the same with at least 30 percent of your dough and then complete the dough using the preferment. 

Another alternative is to mix and develop the dough, let it rise for 30 to 60 minutes and then pop it into the fridge (covered in a loose-fitting container) and leave it there for a day or two.

Because you gave your dough that extra fermentation time, it should not only taste better, but have a longer shelf life. 

Sourdough is prefermented, which is why you achive the same effect when you make sourdough.

LindyD's picture

Hi Pcasebere,

If you have an established sourdough culture and are familiar and have baked with rye flour, a sourdough rye will remain fresh for well over a week. 

You didn't say when you have to leave for the festival, but if it is within the next two weeks and if you do not have an established mature SD culture, why not make the breads you are comfortable baking, which you know will turn out well, and freeze them?  

You can freeze freshly baked bread as soon as it is completely cooled.  Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then bag it.  Once thawed it will be excellent.  If you are driving, you probably could delay the thawing process somewhat by keeping it in an ice filled cooler (in a protective bag).  That would buy you some time.


PaddyL's picture

Then put it into a cooler while you're travelling.  It should be just about right by the time you get to where you're going.  When I give my brother a loaf of frozen bread, by the time he drives home, with the loaf beside him, it's thawed.  If you put the frozen bread into a cooler with lots of ice packs, it should stay frozen longer, and thaw slower.

ivyb's picture

If you have access to a grill, why not make pita breads while on-site? We've done this. We bring a large sourdough bread, which only improves with age, and I make either pita breads or cornbreads on-site.

Enjoy the festival!


Syd's picture

Another way to improve shelf life is to scald a portion of the flour.  It has the added benefit of increasing volume.

What kind of bread were you thinking of making for the festival?  Perhaps you could post the recipe and then members could make suggestions as to the most suitable method for extending shelf life.

LindyD's picture

I was planning on a flat bread (like naan), some muffins, and a loaf of "sandwich bread."  Any thoughts?!

subfuscpersona's picture

Syd on May 20, 2009 wrote:
What kind of bread were you thinking of making for the festival? Perhaps you could post the recipe and then members could make suggestions as to the most suitable method for extending shelf life.

I agree with Syd. Without knowing the kind of bread you will be making, you will only get general suggestions.

If you want to post the ingredients and their proportions, you will get better advice. The "sandwich bread" would seem the one most likely to benefit from suggestions.

xaipete's picture

From what I've read in the books by DiMuzio and Suas, shelf life has something to do with mixing method. Short mix gives the best shelf life followed by improved, which is better than intensive. Shelf life is partially a function of how much oxygen gets mixed into the dough. If you have a lot of oxygenation and volume then you get poor shelf life. Maybe this is why Wonderbread has preservatives in it to keep it fresh. There is more to the picture than just the type of mix but perhaps others who have a better grasp of the technicalities involved will chime in.

Of course it goes without saying that you should bake your bread to the proper temperature and let it cool sufficiently before bagging it, and that keeping it in the refrigerator causes rapid staling because it draws moisture out of the loaf.

Additives, e.g., milk and eggs, also have an effect.


pcasebere's picture

Um.. no recipe really, just throwing together ingredients, like I always do; it's more about an instinctual feel and look than a numbers thing, sorry!  Since I have some time, I'm starting a naturally leavened sourdough sponge for the "sandwich bread," with sesame seeds.  Oh, it'll be warm to hot, but I will try to store the bread in the shade (paper vs. plastic, anyone?).


Ivy; I won't have access to a grill, but instead a one-burner camp stove -I'm thinking of making Chapatis for breakfast.


Pamela; So should I knead the dough less, and skip the perishable ingredients (ie, egg, milk, etc.)?