Should You Be Refrigerating Bread?
There was a time when you'd find a breadbox on nearly every countertop in the country. They were a fixture until the mid-20th century. Although they might not be as common today, this doesn't mean you don't need a place to store your bread. If you want to maintain a clutter-free kitchen, you might find yourself looking for an out-of-the-way place to store your loaves. A place like the refrigerator might make sense aesthetically since it frees up counter space, but is a cold environment like a fridge really the best place to store bread? To find out, we asked Kimberly Baker, Extensions Food Programs and Safety director at Clemson University if you should store bread in the refrigerator. This is what we learned.
Should Bread Be Refrigerated?
According to Baker, it isn't advisable to store bread in the refrigerator. Although it would still be perfectly healthy to eat, she cautions that it will become a lot less palatable because the cold temperatures of the fridge will cause the starch in your bread to recrystallize and lose moisture. "The loss of moisture will cause the bread to become dry, tough, and give the bread a stale flavor," says Baker. No one wants a sandwich made with stale-tasting bread!
Where Is the Best Place to Store Bread?
It turns out bread boxes aren't such a bad idea. Baker says the best place to store bread is at room temperature. "Homemade bread stored at room temperature will have the best quality if used within three to five days," she says. "Commercially-prepared bread can be used within five to seven days. If the bread is not used within these time frames, then freezing the bread will help retain the quality and safety by preventing mold growth." In short, store your bread at room temperature if you plan to eat it quickly, and freeze it if you want it to last longer.
What Is the Best Way to Freeze Bread?
If you want to freeze your bread so it will last longer, Baker says it's best to wrap your loaves securely beforehand. "This will help prevent freezer burn and retain the quality of the bread," she explains. Luckily, it's easy to do:
- Wrap the bread first in plastic wrap, removing as much air as possible.
- Wrap again with a layer of aluminum foil before placing in the freezer.
How Long Will Bread Last in the Freezer?
Freezing has its benefits. While bread stored at room temperature will start to deteriorate in less than a week, Baker says frozen bread will be safe to eat indefinitely. She's quick to add, however, that the bread will be at its best quality if you consume it within six months.