Picture this: You spent an entire afternoon baking fresh bread . You’ve put all your heart and soul into proofing, kneading and caring for the bread until it’s baked to perfection. The last thing you want is for the loaf to go stale before you can share it with friends and family. Bread really only keeps for two or three days before it gets stale, or even moldy. If you want to make any bread last as long as possible, you should freeze it. Below, we’ll explain how to properly freeze bread and then thaw it as well.
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What is the shelf life of bread?
It depends on what type of bread it is and how it is stored. Bread is best stored at room temperature or in the freezer. If you store your bread in the refrigerator, it will actually go bad faster.
Packaged breads from the supermarket (tightly wrapped in the original packaging and stored at room temperature) should keep for three to seven days beyond the expiration date printed on them. Homemade and bakery-bought bread probably won’t keep as long – it usually won’t after about two or three days. However, bread will keep that long in the freezer:
- Whole bread: 4-6 months
- Bread in slices: 1-3 months
- Small pastries: 2-4 months.
The fresher the bread is when it is frozen, the longer it will keep in the freezer.
Freezing bread: What is the best packaging to use?
You should make sure that the bread is sealed as airtight as possible. Here, the best option is a freezer or plastic bag: just wrap the bread and squeeze the air out of the bag.
Step 1: Prepare your bread
When you bake your bread, let it cool completely. This will prevent it from getting soggy or moldy. Wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap. Then wrap it in aluminum foil. Double wrapping is your secret weapon for freshness.
A good tip is to slice your bread before you freeze it. That way, you don’t have to defrost the whole loaf and refreeze it every time you want a slice or two.
Step 2: Put it in the freezer.
Always label your bread with the date before you freeze it. Frozen bread should be used within six months. If left longer, the bread may develop freezer burn.
A good option for freezing bread is to use glass or stainless steel freezer cans or containers. Plastic cans are not recommended.
A particularly environmentally friendly alternative is the cloth bag. You can use a simple cloth bag made of cotton, and several times. In it, freeze a loaf of bread whole or in slices. The cloth bag is also good if you let the bread rise in it, absorbing excess liquid.
Paper bags are also not recommended: You can only freeze bread in them for a few days (over the weekend, for example). However, take it out of the paper bag to defrost.
Tips for correct defrosting
There are certain things you should keep in mind when defrosting. The slower the bread is thawed, the better. If you find that your frozen bread has been in the freezer too long, don’t worry. Somewhat dry or stale bread is great for French toast or croutons.
Frozen bread doesn’t need to be thawed if you’re impatient and want to toast it – just put a slice directly into the toaster. You may need to turn the dial to a slightly higher setting than when toasting fresh bread, and toast the slices a few seconds longer than fresh bread. The microwave is another option for defrosting.
Frozen bread takes some time to thaw. At room temperature, one to three hours is sufficient. You can also let the frozen bread you want to use thaw overnight on the countertop. A cloth can absorb excess liquid. Then it will be ready for breakfast the next day. You can bake the bread briefly in the oven after thawing so it tastes like it’s freshly baked and eaten warm. Moisten the bread with a little water and then bake it in the oven at 200 °C for about 3-5 minutes.
Freezing bread: Can it be harmful?
If you discover bright spots on the bread slices somewhere, it may already be freezer burn. Freezer burn does not make the bread harmful to health. It is still edible, but often no longer edible. Unlike freezer burn, however, mold is fundamentally hazardous to health and the bread should therefore be disposed of completely.
Cold does not kill all dangerous compounds, but it does prevent their growth. The moment you thaw a loaf of bread, the microorganisms “wake up” to the detriment of your health. A small test that can determine whether your bread is fresh or spoiled is not superfluous. Throw away the bread without hesitation if it is covered with green, black, white or pink spots. If there are no visible signs of mold but you suspect overtime, it is a good idea to sniff the bread.
Don’t make the mistake of refreezing bread once you’ve taken it out of the freezer. Some molds produce metabolites that secrete dangerous toxins when eaten or inhaled, which can cause digestive problems. They can also affect and even destroy the microbiota of your gut. Therefore, there is a risk of a weakened immune system and possible diseases.