The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is there a healthy preservative that I can add to my bread?

gringogigante's picture

Is there a healthy preservative that I can add to my bread?

I'm small time, to be sure. I bake white and wheat loaves weekly for my family, and the occasional fun loaf (Anadama bread, artisan loaves, etc).

But, I'm a little tired of them drying out so quickly. They rarely last a week. The first 3 days worth of bread are great....the last 2 or 3 are more dry. After that, almost useless.

I guess I'm at the next level of baking because I can't bake more often due to time constraints, and i need them to last just a few days longer.

I store the loaves wisely in a Progressive International Bread Keeper and a Best Manufacturers Reusable Bread Storage Bag. I also freeze loaves and thaw them as needed, but I'm looking for a way to stretch the shelf life of each loaf.

Are there any preservatives that I can add that will be healthy and stretch each loaf a few days?


Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian


emmsf's picture

Hi.  While I can understand why you want your bread to stay fresh longer, additives are  probably not the way to go.  Lecithin does help things seem moist, but it has a funky flavor and if used in excess  it has a slimy texture.  The best, and most natural, way to make bread stay fresh longer is to make soudough.  Breads leavened either excusively with a sourdough starter, or with both sourdough and yeast, stay fresh a  long, long time.  The difference  is remarkable.  And if  you haven't used a sourdough starter before, it is easy  (ignore all the hype).

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Sourdough is fine if you like sourdough, but it's not been my experience that sourdough bread last longer than any other sort (if you discount the fact that only one person in my family even likes sourdough so it tended to be more likely to be "left over")

I didn't think of this earlier, but what I do with my sandwich loaves is wrap them in a muslin towel or piece of flour sack cloth and keep it in a plastic bag.  I do this straight out of the oven or bread machine.   My bread lasts at least a week or until I finish it off this way.

emmsf's picture

I can only speak to my experience, and to what I've been taught in breadbaking school.  Any bread made with a preferment (biga or poolish) will have a longer shelf life than a straight dough, and a bread fermented with a levain (sourdough) will typically have the longest shelf life of all.  And by sourdough, I'm not just talking about the "San Francisco" white style that's plain and sour, but any bread - rye, whole wheat, multigrain - which uses natural yeast from a sour starter.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Maybe my bread just doesn't last long enough to go stale.  I actually have a loaf in the other room that's over a week old right now.  Plain white sandwhich loaf, no "preservatives" per se.  No mold yet either though I would expect it soon.  A week's usually a long time for a loaf to hang around for me, but I had some dental issues last week so I wasn't really eating much of anything that wasn't already nearly fluid, LOL!

Optionparty's picture

Sourdough, bagging/wrapping, freezing/bread or dough, and flour scalding
should extend bread freshness. You may also consider refrigerating dough
to extend dough development and bake as needed, as with
"Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day".

Flour scalding (6% of total flour heated with water to 160F)


nicodvb's picture

yes, scalding a part of the flour helps a little, just like adding 2% lecithin respect to flour, but IMO the most effective additive to prevent drying the crumb is oil (at least 5% respect to flour).

I wouldn't say that sourdough bread keeps soft for longer time, at least not significantly ... in my experience.

Home Baker's picture
Home Baker

Freshly frozen bread, when thawed, seems just as fresh to me as the morning after they it was baked. Have you tried baking smaller loaves and/or freezing the portion of the you won't eat within 3-4 days as soon as it's cooled? The keys are to closely wrap the bread and to freeze it at its freshest, not to wait until it's about to go is or starting to go stale.


I always bake more loaves than I'll need and freeze extras for use as needed. I've also found that loaves scaled in the range of 450-550 grams each work best for me so I seldom bake larger loaves than that. Once in a while if I bake big 2-3 pound loaves for larger gatherings, I may keep one for myself. If so, I have to cut it into halves or thirds or else it will stale before it can be used. 




intelplatoon's picture

use as much water as you can handle. a wetter dough will stay fresh a bit longer than a drier one in my opinion. or you could just bake 100% rye which can be difficult, but they stay fresh for almost weeks!

clazar123's picture

In fact, my bread rarely has any sour taste at all. I make the weekly WW and white sandwich bread. I often use a hybrid of a liquid levain (sourdough) and commercial instant yeast to shorten the rise time.

Making an enriched dough is helpful in preserving the bread. This can be in the form of milk,fat (oil,butter or shortening),lecithin (I've used liquid and never detected a taste),egg or even avocado. Incorporating a autolyse or overnight retard also helps the crumb stay moist later, esp with the WW bread. A high hydration dough helps to keep a moist loaf,also.

Try something different!Have delicious fun!

Pop N Fresh's picture
Pop N Fresh

I Love Chia Gel!

Please Read:

Great Baking,


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've been playing with chia in my dough and outside my dough and I see no difference in comparison with non-chia loaves.  At least in rye sourdough, no extra shelf life have I observed.  

mimifix's picture

I agree with the suggestion to add oil. Fats are a tenderizer and increase shelf life.

gringogigante's picture

I think i'll try to start making extra and freeze them. If they don't taste as fresh to me, I'll start adding oils/fats. I'll let y'all know how it goes!

Keep the ideas coming!

Chuck's picture

A few hints on not getting stale in the first place (adding any of various fats -of which lecithin is just one more- may be helpful too):

  • Let freshly baked loaves cool thoroughly before cutting them
  • Cut only one loaf at a time (a 100% intact crust is a pretty good defense against staling)
  • Let frozen bread completely defrost in the still-sealed bag before you open it (unless you're prepared to try special tricks with the oven a la dmsnyder)

But no matter what you do, you'll sometimes have some stale bread. Never fear, all is not lost. Slice the bread the way you want it, then cook each slice in your microwave for a few minutes. (I know, I know, "it's' already too dry, so nuke it even more?!?!?" - yes, sounds crazy, but it works.) The bread will be UN-stale for about 20 minutes (after which it will be just as bad as before, or maybe even worse).


(Trying to retain moisture by sealing the bread even more tightly generally just results in mold. Most "additives" in storebought bread are really mold-killers. With the mold problem out of the way, the bread can be bagged very tightly without fear, which in turn typically lengthens it's "shelf life" a day or two. So yes there are additives, but no many of those additives do not change shelf life directly. )

nicodvb's picture

Another preservative that is hugely effective even in tiny doses is cinnamon. It keeps mold away even for months, although it doesn't prevent the bread from staling. Of course it has the side effect of adding flavor, but maybe 1 gr in a 1kg loaf doesn't taste that much. Maybe some spice and some vacuum sealing will help.

Probably all other spices have the same effect. Is there any spice that tastes very bland? At the moment I can't recall one.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Gri

I always use 20mls of olive oil per 500grms of bakers flour for sandwich loaves be it sourdough or plain bread and my exception is when making baguettes which by custom are generally eaten on the day of bake so they never go stale . Freezing excess bread always helps. ...............Pete

BellesAZ's picture

Using a different method like the Artisan Bread in 5 mins a day methods?  I don't use them myself, but maybe for you it's something to consider.  You can cut off a chunk of dough and bake it up when you need it.

I bake nearly every day.. something is always "on" at my house, but if I'm making something like my grandmother's ranch hand bread, which makes three loaves, I will freeze the dough and thaw it out to let it rise for the final proof.  Just wrap the dough extremely well and allow it to thaw out in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then place it in the pans to let them rise.