Keeping bread fresh

As a lazy person, I like to stock up on bread when I visit the bakery so that I have at least two or three days’ worth of breakfast instead of having to go out for it every day. The problem is that, of course, bread always tastes best on the day of baking, but the whole process seems to go a lot faster here than it would back home, where I would leave the bread out with the bag closed and it would remain fairly fresh for 2-3 days.

If I do the same thing here, the bread becomes extremely tough or moist within a day. Putting bread in the fridge isn’t very nice either. I could freeze it and microwave it when needed but that doesn’t do much for freshness either, of course. Is there something I can do to otherwise keep it fresh or somewhat fresh, at least for a day or two?

according to VIZ comics, in the handy tips section, keeping your bread in a bucket of water stops it from drying out.

i keep mine in the freezer personally, but then i just have sliced bread for toast and i just pop it straight into the toaster from the freezer. (wholemeal from some local half-way decent bakery)

Keeping bread fresh in Taiwan? Good luck.

I freeze and then thaw out. Don’t notice the taste difference. I do notice though it is getting tougher to get good bread. The IS Bakery in Qizhang that took over from WeCare now makes embarassingly small loafs of whole wheat. Embarassing for them. Their country white is so gross and doughy I feel gross and doughy after a slice or two. I’m going to buy my own bread maker when I get back from travelling. I heard that Hola has better breadmakers than Costco as they make a larger loaf.

Freeze and thaw … never refrigerate bread … it makes bread stale and tasteless very fast … if microwaving, not longer than 20-30 seconds from frozen … and only slice by slice, not more …

Does freezing work for baguettes as well? Since that is what I usually go for

Freezing works for most foods, it slows down the aging process but doesn’t stop enzymes from doing their work, although it’s slowed down …

In bread it has something to do with the starches and coagulating process … this will make the bread stale … you can however ‘refresh’ the starches once after refrigerating when heating, toasting or nuking, but only for a short time … minutes in fact, after that the bread will go stale and age very fast …

[quote]Question: Freezing Food - Enzymes

Answer: Enzymes present in animals, vegetables and fruit promote chemical reactions, such as ripening and can lead to the deterioration of food quality. Freezing will no stop the process, but it will slow enzyme activity in food.

Frozen meats and fish are not harmed by enzyme activity and the acids in frozen fruits will be neutralized. However, most vegetables require partial cooking (or blanching) to prevent deterioration when freezing. The blanching process can be done by briefly boiling or microwave vegetables, then chilling quickly before freezing. Having ice on hand to put over the vegetables will help maintain the color.[/quote]

From Cooks Illustrated

[quote]What’s the best way to store bread?
We tested several storing several artisinal breads (Olive-Rosemary, baguettes) at room temperature, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer. When stored at room temperature, within just three days the loaves were shrunken, discolored, and firm—in other words, they staled. The same bread, stored in the refrigerator, fared even worse, hardening within a day or so. Why? According to food scientists, the major reason that bread stales is not moisture loss, but rather a process called retrogradation, in which the starch molecules in the bread crystallize. Retrogradation occurs about six times faster at refrigerator temperatures (36 - 40 degrees) than at room temperature, thereby making the refrigerator the worst choice for bread storage. However, the retrogradation process does slow down significantly when bread is stored below freezing temperatures. The water molecules in the bread freeze, which immobilizes the starch molecules and prevents them from forming crystalline structures.

Because retrogradation is accelerated by cold temperatures, it’s logical that it would be reversed by heat. Anyone who has ever softened stale bread in an oven or microwave has witnessed retrogradation reversal. Ovens don’t add moisture, but when stale bread (bread with crystallized starch) is heated to temperatures above 140 degrees, the crystals break down, softening the bread, (140 degrees is the gelation temperature of wheat starch—that is, the temperature at which the molecules form a gel).

To minimize retrogradation, store bread at room temperature—for up to two days—in a container that minimizes moisture loss (tightly wrapped in foil or in a zipper-lock bag). After two days, wrap bread tightly wrapped in foil, place in a freezer bag, and freeze. Thaw the slices at room temperature, or in the microwave or oven. (For a frozen full- or half-loaf, we recommend heating the bread, still wrapped in foil, in a 450-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, then crisping it by removing the foil and returning it to the oven for a minute or two.) If you find yourself with stale bread, wrap it in plastic wrap and reheat briefly in a microwave, but be prepared to use it almost immediately as retrogradation will set in again fairly quickly. Finally, only refrigerate bread that you’re intending to reheat (e.g., toast or grill) later on.[/quote]

Leave out only what you’ll eat in the next day or perhaps two.

Freeze, but don’t refrigerate, for oil-free breads like sliced sandwich bread, French breads, etc.; it’s better to thaw them naturally at room temp than to microwave them, as the latter can toughen them VERY quickly. A thin frozen slice can be popped straight into the toaster, yes. You can pre-slice bagels and English muffins before freezing them, for this purpose.

Breads with significant amounts of oils in them (like pound cake) can be frozen or refrigerated.

Either way, seal them well, as the freezer and fridge can both dry breads out.

Tortillas can be frozen or refrigerated, the latter for shorter periods. You can spray them with a plant mister before popping them on the griddle to warm them.

Very useful info - thanks, Belgian Pie!

Well, I can’t recomment the Lugar home bread bar enough if you want some really tasty bread here. I thought Mr Mark was ok before, but this stuff is first class. You can find their website here which has details of the locations of their shops, who also serves breakfast and lunch and have some very tasty sarnies.