The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

White Bread starting to sour during storage

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cholme's picture

White Bread starting to sour during storage

So, I have a strange problem.  The last couple time I baked white bread, about 4 days after baking the bread gets a fowl, sour smell; not like sour dough.  Here is what I am doing.

  • 4 ¾ Cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 Cup Water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Honey

Baking 325˚ for 40 min. Brushing with butter after baking - cooling for a few hours and bagging in plastic.  My goal was to keep the crust, nice and soft... like my 5 & 6 year old like. :)

Could the butter be going sour?  Any ideas?



MANNA's picture

Is the loaf baking through and reaching the 200 degree mark. Sounds like the moist enviroment of the sealed bag is allowing something to grow.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I thought they were not supposed to last more than a few days. 

WoodenSpoon's picture

regardless of what is causing the sour smell the only time you should put your bread in plastic is once it is completely cooled and you are about to freeze it. other than that if you can't eat what you have in the time it takes to go stale you should maybe make a little less. But, if you slice it before freezing it you can go right from freezer to toaster for some fresh as heck toast.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I tend to put my sourdoughs in a plastic ziplock bag just because I don't want the cut side to go stale.  I find that while leaving it out on a wooden cutting board, cut side down, means the bread does not go stale too quickly, I don't like leaving my bread out on a cutting board.  It takes up too much space and I don' like having food out because of bugs/rodents being attracted to such things.

That said, I am not thrilled with my crust going soft. My wife is. But not me. :)

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

work perfectly for me.  I hate it when the crust goes all soft as it does for me in plastic, or even a vented bread box/keeper. I keep the brown kraft paper barrel-bags that groceries come home in as long as they are clean and dry.  When I cut a loaf of sourdough I pull out a bag and line the bottom with a folded paper towel.  I put the cut loaf into the bag with the cut face down on the paper towel.  I then close the top of the bag and fold it down once, then fold the "dog's ears" in and fold down once more.  A big "chip clip" holds it closed.  I store it in a shady but open spot on the counter top (right next to the toaster in my case). My sourdough lasts for up to a week (but rarely has to) in this packaging, and it is simple to open up, cut a few slices and close back up again.

It works for me anyway.

clazar123's picture

Either try brushing the loaf with clarified butter or even oil. It may be that the milk solids in the butter are souring.


Try brushing the butter on before baking.

gerhard's picture

Thin coats of butter can go bad quickly because of the large area exposed to light and oxygen but it is generally a rancid taste and not sour.


BGM's picture

I suspect that the bread internal temp is not getting hot enough to kill off all the wee beasties in the dough.  It should reach at least 195 degrees internal and 200 plus a few is even better.  Also let it cool completely before bagging it to minimize the condensation in the bag. If I'm going to use a plastic bag, I'll leave the bread in an open bag overnight with the bread on the counter. I just have to be cafeful my dog can't get to it!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Is the loaf getting a heavy wet spot inside the middle of the loaf and progressing outward?  

MANNA's picture

Just thethought of ropes gives me chills

cholme's picture

Clazar123 - I will try the clarified butter.  It seems likely that the butter is the cause of my problem.  The loafs in question got to 190˚ to 200˚ and don't seem too moist.

Mini Oven - No the smell is more like sour milk and there is no wet spot.

Manna - Ropes?  I don't understand.


Thanks everyone for the input.

cholme's picture

Ok... after many tests I can safely say that the issue was the butter brush I was doing.  I tries clarified butter and it was better, but still went off after a while (about a week).  When I used the same recipe and stored it in the fridge, the bread didn't go sour; but in the fridge, the bread gets harder.

So, here is my next question.  Is there a way to have super soft crust, not store it in the fridge and NOT have it sour?

I know some don't understand wanting soft crust.  The questions is not weather to have soft crust or not, the question is HOW to accomplish soft crust. :-)


cranbo's picture

About a week at room temp with a brushed-after butter crust? I'm not surprised, I would think most bread would start to mold/sour/rancid at that point. The industrial bread from most markets has preservatives and conditioners to keep the bread moist and soft including crust. The storage in plastic contributes to this. 

Yes storage in plastic is probably the best way to maintain a soft crust. However this also creates a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. There is no optimal solution here without resorting to chemicals. 

One other option is to briefly microwave (start at 10 seconds) a few slices of bread at a time. Has the side benefit of warming the bread, and tends to soften the crumb and crust, especially if eaten right away. 

Another option: try adding cooked mashed potatoes, potato starch, potato flour, or boiled potato water to your recipe. Adding potatoes to a recipe makes the yeast more productive, makes the dough softer and can potentially increase its storage life. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

going rancid.  Have you tried using an oil instead?  or how about nothing at all?  

After one night in a closed bag or container, the crust will get soft on its own.   If I want bread slices all week long, I freeze half the loaf in slices and thaw out when needed after day 3.  Slip parchment or wax paper between slices or keep a screwdriver handy.  5 secs in the micro will thaw out fast and so will tossing in the toaster.