It’s been a long day and you can’t wait to break into that tasty French baguette you baked last night. Maybe you’ll accompany it with some pasta or a nice plate of meat and veg. Sounds tasty! You start cooking, pull that loaf out and grab your bread knife, but lo and behold! Last night’s bread is hard as a rock.
It’s happened to all of us. You put all that work into baking the perfect loaf only for it to go stale and turn to concrete in a few days. How do you prevent this? Properly storing your home-baked loaves, of course!
Read on for the top tips on how to keep bread machine bread soft and the best ways to store homemade bread to maintain a fluffy interior and crusty exterior.
Why Does Homemade Bread Dry Out So Fast?
The exact same thing that makes homemade bread so beautiful is also what makes it fleeting. Unlike commercial store-bought bread, homemade bread is free of preservatives and additives. This makes it healthier (and much tastier) but unfortunately shortens its freshness and life span significantly.
But don’t fret – there are a handful of tried and true methods for keeping your homemade bread soft and fresh longer to ensure you get the most out of those lovely home-baked loaves.
How To Store Bread Machine Bread
Spoiler alert: it’s not in the refrigerator.
Before we tell you where to store bread machine bread to extend its softness and shelf life, let’s first take a look at where you shouldn’t put it and why.
Worst Ways To Store Homemade Bread
Why shouldn’t you store your bread maker loaves in the fridge? The refrigerator is ultimately the worst place to store homemade bread because it causes bread to stale much, much faster. Not only does your refrigerator dry out bread, but it also affects the retrograde and recrystallization of starch.
What does that mean? Basically, your refrigerator speeds up the process of bread staling faster than any other means because these cold-but-not-freezing environments are prime at causing crystallization (basically just the starch molecules returning to their original state) to happen faster.
All bread will stale eventually, but the refrigerator will speed this process up faster than any other storage location.
Another manner of storing bread that quickens staling is paper bags. Paper bags let out all the moisture in your loaves and quicken staling. Even though artisanal loaves may come wrapped in pretty brown paper bags, they should never be kept this way!
Swap out that paper bag for another method, pronto!
The second worst place to store loaves is any location that is too warm. Heat can cause your bread to dry out more rapidly or can even cause condensation if your bread is stored in a sealed container which can cause molding.
Some warm kitchen locations to avoid:
- Atop your refrigerator – as this area is actually quite warm
- On top of an oven
- Above a dishwasher – the steam can rise and heat your bread
- In direct sunlight, like say, under a window
Storing Bread Machine Bread: Top Methods
Alright, you know the worst places to store bread machine loaves and rolls, but what about the best places to store them? Here are the top three places and methods for storing bread machine bread.
Many find this an unexpected choice, but one of the very best locations to store bread machine bread is in the freezer. Scientifically, freezing significantly slows the process of recrystallization in starch molecules down. Translation: freezing slows down the process of bread staling substantially. Additionally, there’s no risk of mold growth.
To freeze bread, simply place it in a freezer bag, push out as much air as you can, and then freeze. If freezing bread for sandwiches, be sure to slice it first – then you can pull out individual slices to defrost in the toaster whenever needed!
Bread keeps in the freezer for up to 3 months, although most recommend using it within one to two months for the best taste. After 3 months you risk freezer burn.
What’s the next best place to store home-baked bread? A bread box, of course! Bread boxes create an ideal balance of humidity which is essential for soft bread, but also allows for air circulation, needed for retaining a good crust.
In addition, bread boxes keep bread safe from pests and bugs, store bread at room temperature for convenient use and help you to maintain a tidy kitchen, not to mention they’re adorable and nostalgic. Bread boxes are the ultimate accessory for your bread!
Bread stays fresh in a breadbox for three to four days, so use this option for rolls and loaves that you plan on eating the soonest, and be sure to freeze the rest.
Another option for storing homemade bread is in a sealed plastic bag or well-wrapped cellophane. You can leave bread out at room temperature using this method for a few days, but after then it will start to mold as a result of the trapped moisture.
The other downside of this method? Your crust will lose a lot of its crustiness, softening quite a bit, thanks to all that locked-in moisture.
A better option is to store your baked bread in airtight plastic, then freeze it.
Storing Bread Machine Bread Couldn’t Be Easier!
Those are the basics! Now you know the best places to store bread machine bread as well as the worst. Freezing bread keeps it freshest for the longest amount of time, followed by bread boxes and plastic bags. While the refrigerator may be a great place for store-bought bread, it’s terrible for homemade loaves – the same goes for warm, drying locations in the kitchen and paper bags.
No matter the method you choose, you’re now well stocked with all the info on how to keep homemade loaves soft and fresh for the longest amount of time. Time to stock up on some bready delights and start baking up a storm!