Fresh bread offers that wonderful combination of a firm crust and moist crumbs that is just delicious.
Improperly stored bread can either become dry and hard, or moldy and spongy.
But there are some simple ways to store bread to keep it safe and delicious for longer, so let’s look at how to best preserve bread.
How Long Does Bread Last in the Fridge?
Fresh bread should not be stored in the fridge.
Most types of bread, even when well-packaged, will dry out and get stale in the refrigerator, so bread should be stored in the pantry or bread box, or frozen to last longer.
The challenge with preserving bread is that, when stored in an air-tight container like a plastic bag, moisture is allowed to build up and cause mold.
When the bread is stored in a breathable container, like a paper bag, it dries out and becomes stale.
Most bread is meant to be used when fresh, before the expiration date given by the manufacturer.
Bread shelf life also depends on what kind of bread it is, and what the printed expiration date is.
Best Ways to Preserve Bread
All bread begins to lose flavor, texture, and freshness when frozen.
Although many types of bread will last for up to six months, they begin to lose flavor and texture after a couple of weeks.
Since bread is difficult to preserve, and there are so many different types, here is a quick reference table for how long you can store bread.
|Type of Bread||At Room Temperature||In the Fridge||In the Freezer|
|Whole bakery bread (baguettes, homemade loaves, etc.)||Expiration date + 2-3 days||Not recommended||Expiration date + up to 6 months|
|Sliced and packaged bread||Expiration date + 5-7 days||Not recommended||Expiration date + up to 6 months|
|Baked goods (rolls, bagels, pastries, etc.)||Expiration date + 2-3 days||Not recommended||Expiration date + up to 6 months|
|Homemade bread dough||Up to 12 hours||Up to a week||Up to 6 months|
|Store-bought refrigerated bread dough (including rolls) and pastries)||2-4 hours||Use by the expiration date on the package||Expiration date + up to 3 months|
|Bread crumbs||Expiration date + 5-6 months||Not recommended||Expiration date + up to 8 months|
|Dried bread, croutons, etc.||Expiration date + 5-6 months||Not recommended||Not recommended|
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How to Freeze and Defrost Bread
In order to preserve bread or bread dough in the fridge or freezer, it should be stored in an air-tight container.
In many cases, you can use the plastic bag with twist-ties that the bread came in, or use a freezer-safe plastic bag.
The bread should be tightly sealed to exclude all air, so if you are using a plastic container with an air-tight lid, first wrap the bread in cling film or aluminum foil.
Hard-crusted bread may tear plastic bags and film, so consider double-bagging or checking carefully.
If you want to save fresh bread for a particular event or occasion, you can simply freeze the whole loaf.
If, however, you are preserving bread because you consume it slowly, it’s best to slice before freezing.
That way you can only defrost the slices you need, and leave the rest frozen.
To freeze already-sliced bread, take the time to “flip” through all the slices and separate them before freezing, so it is easier to remove one slice at a time.
How to Thaw Bread
To thaw a whole loaf of bread
Remove it from the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature without unwrapping it.
As it thaws, the bread will re-absorb some of the moisture from inside the plastic, and regain some of its texture.
Let it soften on the counter for 2-4 hours, then place it in a warm oven (375-400°F) for 3-5 minutes to refresh the crumb and crust.
To thaw individual slices of bread
The best way to thaw frozen slices is to take them directly from the freezer to the toaster.
Even if you don’t want darkly toasted bread, a toaster will quickly thaw and heat sliced bread, restoring the freshness.
To thaw bread dough
Fortunately, freezing doesn’t kill bread yeast – it just slows it down.
The key to thawing bread dough is to expose it to gentle, even warmth that revives the yeast without killing it.
Place frozen bread dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray.
Cover the dough with cling film or a clean towel, and place it in a gently warm area.
An oven heated to 100°F is perfect, but you could also use a heating vent, the back of the stove, or a warm windowsill.
The dough will thaw within 30-120 minutes, but you should also allow additional time for the yeast to revive and rise the dough again before using it.
>>Problem with left-over pizzas? Find out how long they would last in the fridge here!<<
How do you know if the bread is bad?
In most cases, properly stored bread will eventually become dry and stale.
You can still use stale bread for croutons, bread puddings, crumbs and breading, and other purposes.
Hard, dry, stale bread is still safe to eat, and not spoiled.
In some cases, though, the bread will spoil or go bad.
If your bread has been sitting around for a few days, even if it’s been properly stored and is within its expiration date, it’s a good idea to check for these signs:
An unusual smell
If your bread has an unusual odor, it has probably gone bad. Don’t sniff it closely, because you don’t want to inhale mold spores
Bread mold can be green or grey, but is also sometimes white and fluffy and may look like a dusting of flour.
If you can’t tell whether a white, powdery substance on the crust is flour or mold, and the bread doesn’t smell bad, try scraping some of the substance with your fingernail.
If it flakes off and is powdery, and the bread smells good, it is probably flour.
If the white substance peels off in distinct clusters, it is probably mold
Can old bread make you sick?
While “old” bread may simply be stale and dry, and still safe to eat, you should not eat moldy bread.
If you see signs of mold or mildew on your bread or inside the packaging, discard the entire loaf – don’t just discard individual moldy slices.
While exposing mold to heat can kill the microorganisms, you can’t simply make moldy bread safe to eat by heating or toasting it – temperatures high enough to kill mold and bacteria would burn the bread and make it inedible.
For a person with a healthy immune system, eating moldy bread may not pose a health risk, or may simply cause nausea and vomiting.
For a person with mold sensitivities, bread mold may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.
Does bread go bad in the fridge?
Bread will quickly dry out and get stale in the fridge, making it unusable as fresh bread.
It may also develop mold and germs in the fridge, so it should be used fresh or frozen right away.
Is bread mold dangerous?
Bread mold is dangerous, particularly for people who have mold sensitivities.
Inhaling bread mold can irritate the respiratory system.
Also, if the bread has developed mold, it’s a sign that it may be also growing other harmful bacteria that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Fresh bread can quickly grow stale, but there are hundreds of wonderful uses and recipes for stale bread.
Keep bread fresh in the freezer to use it for longer, but always check and discard moldy bread.