We Don’t Know How to Store Bread Anymore. Here’s How.

We’ve lost many life skills over the years.  How to make butter, drive a team of horses, use a coffee maker that doesn’t come with prepackaged pods … but one of the most distressing things is NO one knows how to store bread anymore.  Here’s the how and why.

Jump right to the best bread storage method.

In the 1930s there was a very large blip in the bread eating world that we’re just starting to recover from. Way back when, bread came like the bread you see in the photo; whole loaves of crusty, prone to get stale, bread. It’s the kind of bread most of us are eating now.

The “bread blip” occurred in the 1930s when The Continental Baking Company started selling the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually it was sliced bread.  Wonder Bread made it’s nationwide debut throwing women into a panic over this newfangled sorcery.  HOW could a loaf of bread that’s already sliced stay fresh?

Turns out, it’s completely possible as long as you remove all the nutrients and minerals and basically anything good from the flour by processing it until it’s a mere shadow of its former self.  Highly processing flour creates a super-soft almost devoid of nutrient, marshmallow-like bread that lasts forever without drying out.  Yay?

A decade or so after its introduction, the government forced the makers of Wonder Bread and other extremely processed foods to ADD nutrients and minerals back into the bread to give it at least some nutritional value.

This is why you’ll see bread that says “enriched” on it. Enriched??!!  That’s great!  It gives you the impression that there’s even MORE nutrients in it the bread!!!  There aren’t. They’ve just added in some synthetic nutrients to make up for the real ones they took out.

So there you have it. That’s why you don’t know how to store real bread.  Sliced bread took over the world and ruined your bread storage life skill, turning you into an inept drooling moron.

Wonder Bread – the worst thing since sliced bread. Everyone started buying it because it was soft and plush and lasted forever without going mouldy or stale. There was nothing to storing it. You just left it in its plastic bag and it’d stay fresh in your kitchen for as long as a typical tax evasion jail sentence.  But in the past 20 years or so (I have completely made that number up) we’re getting back to eating – and I hate this phrase – real food. That means loaves of crusty, unsliced bread.

And not a single one of us knows how to properly store it to keep it fresh beyond one day.  NO ONE.  Not even myself.  So I did an experiment 2 weeks ago involving several loaves of bread and 8 different storage methods.

 

Bread Storage Test Methods.

  1. Under glass on a wood cutting board with no ventilation
  2. Under glass on a marble cutting board with no ventilation
  3. Unwrapped in a drawer.
  4. In a linen bread bag.
  5. In a clay pot.
  6. Under medium sized glass dome with ventilation – bread on its side.
  7. Under medium sized glass dome with ventilation – bread on its cut end.
  8. Under large glass dome.

Here’s how the methods worked.

Each loaf was cut in half and stored in one of the 8 designated places.  I measured their moisture with a moisture meter, but it turned out that wasn’t really necessary.  Mould meant the bread was too moist with not enough ventilation, hard as a rock meant too dry with too much ventilation.

1 & 2 Under Glass.

The bread under glass with no ventilation got mouldy within 3 days.  It was stored with the cut end down to prevent moisture loss with probably also accounted for the quick mould production.

This method didn’t work. The crust became soft almost immediately after going under the glass domes and mould formed within days.

Results – FAIL

 

3. Unwrapped in a drawer

This was my attempt to replicate a bread box. I lined the drawer with a linen towel just in case there was any ick in the drawer. One loaf was placed with the cut end open to air, the other loaf had the cut end pushed against the side of the drawer.

This method worked surprisingly well, with the loaf that had the cut end pushed against the side of the drawer staying quite close to its original texture. Soft on the inside and crusty (not soft) crust.

Results – PRETTY DARN GOOD. But the drawer swelled up and the bread that didn’t have the cut end covered up dried out.

 

4. In a linen bread bag.

This method was the best for keeping a crusty loaf and preventing mould but  only for a couple of days. Within one day the bread started to harden just beneath the crust and the hardness just got deeper and deeper into the loaf with each day it was stored until by day 4 the bread was hard enough to break if you dropped it.

Results – Good for very short term storage.

5. Clay pot.

I decided to try storing bread in a clay pot since seeing this clay bread box a few years ago. It made sense.  The clay would absorb extra moisture and help prevent the bread from going hard and stale.  The hole in the top of the pot I figured would act as ventilation and allow moisture to escape.

It didn’t work. The bread got mould on its cut end within a few days.

Results – FAIL.  My DIY clay bread holder didn’t allow enough moisture to escape. The one for sale on Amazon might work better. I’m not sure.

6. Under medium sized glass dome with ventilation – bread on its size. After seeing how quickly the bread went mouldy under glass domes with no ventilation I did two things. I added ventilation by just offsetting the glass dome so air could get underneath and storing the bread on its side so it could breath. I was worried it would dry out if I did this and it did dry out a little bit, but it not so much that that portion of bread wasn’t edible. It just wasn’t quite as soft as a fresh cut.

Results – Not bad, but not the winning combination either.

7. & 8. – Under glass domes (one large one smaller) with ventilation with the bread sitting on its cut edge.  

Mould.  Mould, mould, mould.  I thought using a larger glass dome would maybe prevent the mould from forming so quickly but it didn’t.

Results – FAIL.


Keep in mind with all of these methods, I wasn’t cutting the bread daily exposing a new fresh end. This would help the bread stay fresher longer because you’d have a new cut end all the time which would prevent mould.  If you were to use any of these methods while constantly cutting from the bread, they would stay fresh longer.

There was ONE method of storing the bread that worked much better than everything I tried.  And here it is.

Yeah. Storing the bread in the bag it came from the bakery in. It was far and away the best method for storing the bread, lol.

The other way to go is storing your bread in a little antique contraption called a bread box. They have proper ventilation and are literally made for storing bread.  They used to be popular back in the olden days but they’re making a comeback. Why is this relic making its way back into kitchens?

You might say that bread boxes are the greatest thing since before sliced bread.

I’ve already been browsing and I really like this sleek white metal one but of course I’ll have to do some research and testing before I commit $29.99 and more importantly counter space to one.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some butter to make.


note: Storing bread in the freezer is the best way to keep it fresh long term. Avoid putting bread in the fridge though because the slow cooling does something to the starches which makes it stale quickly.


 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

75 Comments

  1. Muff Hackett says:

    I made my own bread for much of the last 35 years (although not as much as I used to because there were only 2 of us and my usual recipe made 5 loaves and we really shouldn’t be eating that much bread per week between us.) More recently, with the advent of really good bread available from artisanal bakers in town, I have been buying really good bread. The kind you don’t want to lose 1/2 of to staleness or mould.

    The method that I have found that works best is the paper bag the bread came in loosely covered with a plastic bread bag (saved from a purchased loaf and reused who knows how many times.) The bread stays good for the better part of the week and we get to enjoy it.

  2. Bev out West says:

    Sourdough rye made with water for the liquid and no sugar in it didn’t go mouldy stored in my plates cupboard. We used up the heel in soup.

  3. whitequeen96 says:

    This one on Amazon is only $19.99 and has 4.5 stars with with well over 2,000 reviews. I ran it through fakespot.com and the reviews are legitimate. We don’t eat bread so I can’t give it my own review. (I know, we’re savages!)
    Home-it Stainless Steel Bread Box

    • Dd51 says:

      I have that one, it works fine. But since my kids are no longer at home, I find a loaf of bread is too much for 2 people. If I make bread I keep only the amount my husband and I will eat in 3-4 days. The rest I freeze. I also keep it in a plastic bag that was originally from bread brought from the store. King Arthur Flour has a few different types of plastic bags for bread storage. I reuse them as needed.

    • Sandra D says:

      Where is everyone getting their prices on Amazon? I went to Karen’s link and it was $39.99 and put in the stainless steel one in their search box and it came to $29.00. I use amazon.ca (like Karen, I’m in Canada).

      I have a wood one, but I don’t leave them out of their store bought bag. Of course, they do go mouldy after awhile, but even my homemade bread keeps pretty good.

  4. Tina says:

    I eat so little bread, I end up paying way too much to buy one little hamburger sized bun and nibble on it for a week. I figured out I could buy an entire loaf of the same bread (or a bag of 8 buns) for about the same price. But whatever I buy, in the summer it goes bad too quickly so I never even finish my entire bun. I’ll probably just quit eating it.

  5. leo muzzin says:

    How about the fridge? Metal box, cool inside, sliced bread lasts forever in there. LOL

    • Kps says:

      It breaks down the sugars

    • Karen says:

      NO!!!! I should have mentioned that. A refrigerator is the worst place to store this kind of bread. A freezer is perfect, but the fridge just dries it out. I’ll go add that into the post. ~ karen!

      • Jessie says:

        If you buy bread that has no additives and freeze it for too long of a period it just dries it out. I can buy half a loaf of sourdough at our store so that works for us, I also make croutons if I have too much bread left over.

        • Karen says:

          You may be storing it in the freezer in the wrong thing. I store homemade bread in my freezer for months and it’s perfect. I wrap it in tinfoil and then put that in a plastic bag. You can also activate the bread again by warming it in the oven to restore it’s “freshness”. ~ karen!

      • Joe T. says:

        So why isn’t the freezer + toaster oven combination the winner?

      • Jacquie Gariano says:

        You are so right about bread in the refer. It also leaches all the “good” things out and the bread ends up tasting flat or like cardboard. NO refer.

  6. Ingrid says:

    I save the first slice- the end piece – and put it up against the cut side so there’s less air exposure, then stick the whole thing back into the paper bag it came in, and then put that paper bag inside a plastic grocery bag. Keep it on the counter, with the open end of the plastic bag tucked under. But you should still cut it every day. It’s so good, why save it? Eat and enjoy! It’s really not meant to last more than 3-4 days.

    • Anon says:

      I keep my Wonder Bread in the plastic bag it came in and put it in the bread box. LOL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ingrid! The only problem is when you put the paper bag inside the grocery bag you’re really trapping in a lot of moisture so increase the chance of mould or even worse .. a soggy crust. Try using jus the paper bag. If you desperately want to use two bags, because you have something about the number 2, then use two of the paper bags. One over each end of the bread. I think it’ll give you a bit better result on the bread. 🙂 ~ karen!

  7. Nicole B. says:

    Bonjour Karen, from the picture, the clay pot plate looks like it’s glazed, which would prevent moisture from evaporating from the cut end that is resting on the glazed plate. An unglazed plate might be worth a try?

    • Karen says:

      Good eye! The base is glazed. But I did do a test with both (I just turned the plate upside down for the other test because the underside isn’t glazed) . 🙂 Either way the bread went mouldy. Which really surprised me. ~ karen!

    • LaineyDid says:

      Unglazed clay is NOT food safe. Potter here 😉

  8. Jen says:

    Interesting, thanks, Karen.

  9. whitequeen96 says:

    If you’re like me and only eat a little bread once in a while, you can freeze a loaf and it keeps quite well. I’ve only tried it with sliced bread so that I could take out a couple slices at a time to defrost. I suppose if you have a whole loaf frozen, you could just slice off a couple of frozen slices at a time. I’ve always kept the frozen bread in the bag in which it came.

  10. Jen says:

    Best solution: 3 teenage boys.

  11. Marna says:

    For years I made bread and lots of other baked goods. I didn’t worry, it didn’t last long with my husband and then 3 sons came along. I buy special loaves now, just freeze it and take out what I need, no mold or anything. I haven’t tried crusty bread yet, but that type still doesn’t last with my husband around! I remember my mom, aunts and grandmas all had bread boxes, they must have worked from what I remember. 🙂

  12. Robert says:

    I’m sure you’ll be inundated with suggestions for bread boxes. For what it’s worth, I’ve had success with the Prepworks PKS-800. Since it’s transparent plastic, it’s not going to win any beauty contests, but you can adjust the ventilation, and it’s very easy to clean. And keeping it clean seems like an important consideration if you’re trying to reduce the potential areas for mold growth.

  13. R says:

    Thanks– sort of.

    What’s to be used for those of us w home made crusty yum bread………. and no bread bag/s?! 💜
    PS love the ‘taste tests’/experiments!
    rj

    • Karen says:

      Go to the store and ask for some. 😉 For me the second best storage option was the drawer left open a tiny bit for ventilation. Or … the freezer. A freezer will keep bread perfectly but it isn’t exactly convenient when you suddenly want a piece of bread with marmalade. ~ karen!

      • Melissa Strack says:

        If your local store has an in-store bakery, you probably could get away with taking home one or two empty bread bags!

      • Melissa Strack says:

        If your local store has an in-store bakery, you probably could get away with taking home one or two empty bread bags! My big name grocery store bakery uses roll top paper bags with a clear window.

    • Gayle says:

      You can buy bread bags from quality baking suppliers online. I only order my flours (all non GMO here) from King Arthur Flour and they have the bsgs but I haven’t tried them–homemade bread doesn’t last ling at my house. I do have their vented plastic bread box–works great!

  14. Cay says:

    What works for me is make sourdough bread it naturally lasts longer because of the acid content. I wrap the loaf in a towel then loosely in a plastic grocery bag. A loaf of sourdough
    will last a week this way.

  15. Heather says:

    I love the way your mind works. You have so many, many ideas, and the boundless energy required to run with them. I’m going to try bread in its bag in a wooden bread box like the one my mum had. : )

  16. Caroline says:

    Hi Karen…I live in hot and humid Houston TX. AC is on 6-8 months of the year which tends to dry everything out. No AC, things mold quickly. I usually make a sourdough baguette and bolle every week or so. After many dried out or moldy loaves using various containers and methods, my husband and I have come up with this solution. Cut the bolle in half and vac-u-pac both pieces in food saver bags..with a small amount of air still in them so the pieces don’t squish. One goes in the freezer, one in the fridge. Every time we get a piece out of the fridge, the rest gets vac-u-packed and again back in the fridge. As for the baguette, if it makes it past the first day (very unlikely due to smell/butter/appropriate meal to scarf it all up with) it goes in a foodsaver bag in the fridge also.

  17. RuthWard says:

    Hey Karen….really interesting!
    Would love for you to review bread boxes. I love making homemade crusty loaves…but it’s just me and my husband. It would be so great finding a storage vessel to keep its integrity!!

    • Lee Hoy says:

      I am an at home bread baker. Without a doubt, I have found the absolute best way to keep bread fresh. I’ve been using this method for years and this way REALLY WORKS. Allow bread to cool to room temp, put into a plastic produce bag, put that bag into a wax cereal bag (Repurposed from cereal that comes in the box) then put it into a ziptop bag. Since it is just myself and the hubs, I slice half of the bread into portions and package as above and put into the freezer. Believe me this method works. I think it has to do with the wax paper.After all, that’s how a lot of people preserved it way back when. Love your blogs!

  18. Kps says:

    We have not used a microwave in years. But I have found it is an excellent bread box.

    Even for those marshmallow, no nutrients types of bread. Why do they always sell so many hot dog buns…..? It is always a waste!

    • Karen says:

      No one has EVER figured out why they don’t sell the same amount of hotdog buns as is in a package of hotdogs. It’s a mystery of life. I always freeze my hotdog buns. They freeze well, but not for a long period fo time. As soon as they get icy they turn to mush. ~ karen!

  19. susan w says:

    Thank you for this experiment.
    In New Mexico, we have conditions opposite from Houston – bread (and skin, and every else) dries out extremely fast. I try everything – plastic bag that bread comes in, bread in bag in plastic box, homemade bread in similar conditions, freezing part of loaf at a time. It’s all similar results – so so

    Bread drawer! I have a tin lined (maybe lead??) drawer in a 1914 Hoosier cabinet that Ive always wondered at its original purpose. Maybe its a bread drawer.

    • Kim says:

      Lol. I hope it’s not lead. Because I have that same drawer and I use it for bread. 🤣🤣🤣 I am pretty sure it’s tin tbh.

  20. Eileen says:

    I have that box in the link! If I had any space in the kitchen I’d take my photos out of it and use it for bread.

  21. jane says:

    My 40s kitchen came with 2 tin lined bread drawers. New kitchens should bring them back.

  22. Beth says:

    The bread will dry out in the paper bag alone, cut bread faster than whole loaf. The plastic bag over the paper bag keeps the bread from drying out and if you leave it loosely open, it’s less likely to mold/mould and will still have a bit of a crust-crunch.
    If you have kids at home, just leave fresh bread standing on the cutting board, cut side down, uncovered. The loaf is usually gone in a day or so and it’ll remain fresh and still crusty. I used to make sourdough loaves once a week and any bread that dried out was used for a French toast or went in the blender for crumbs.

  23. Tiffany says:

    I often make homemade bread of various types, own a bread box and have tried multiple ways to keep bread fresh including freezing. The best method that I have found is to completely wrap the unused bread in foil. Three-four days after making the bread (about as long as it lasts in my house), the texture is almost the same as fresh without mold, and I live in a very hot, humid climate.

  24. As kids, my brother and I would use the soft, nutrient-free insides of Wonder® Bread to make snowballs to pelt each other with. 😉 Mom was not impressed and switched to healthy wheat bread.

  25. Linda says:

    I have a lot to say today. Since I never comment, maybe you will be patient with me. First, I started using a bread box again about three months ago and it hasn’t let me down yet. Mine is wood with the roll top (like the old desks). I LOVE IT! Next, your sense of humor sets me up for my day! If I am down, I go to your blog and all is well with the world. I think you are the wittiest, most realistic person I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know, even if it’s one sided! I live in Florida and I know you are in my beloved Canada (right?) but I would love it if you came to lunch and had sweet tea!!!! Now, go have a great day.

    • Karen says:

      O.K. well if I’m ever in Florida I may take you up on that just to experience my first sweet tea. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Jack says:

        Hot tea is difficult to find in the “Excited States”. However, in some Canadian restaurants, they don’t know about “hotting the pot” before putting the tea leaves/bags in the pot and then pouring in the water, just off the boil (208℉ ).

  26. Brenna says:

    I know the freezer has been mentioned several times but it seems to be mostly in reference to longer term storage. When I buy a loaf I immediately slice it and put it in the freezer. When I need bread I pull out a slice or two and pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Now it’s ready to eat (or more likely toast) and it’s always first day fresh. It may feel odd to put a brand new loaf directly in the freezer but if you want the good stuff always on hand for a quick sandwich or a toast, this is a great method.

  27. Etta says:

    I bake most of my own bread. Never have a problem with mold.
    Of course I have LOTS of friends who look forward to a fresh loaf , and a priest who loves to use a fresh loaf for communion. So I keep one or two and share the rest.
    LOVE the glass dome look ! Next dinner I’ll be doing that for sure! Thanks!

  28. Rosalind Moller says:

    There are two of us now at home. A month or so ago I purchased a Victoria cast iron Tortilla Press from Amazon and use a recipe for Tortillas that is a healthy bread (sugar free and no gluten). I enjoy making a double batch to last a week approximately. These prove very versatile when whipping up a quick light meal. Most often I serve the tortilla rolled up tightly around a filling of ham salad or chicken salad with fresh spinach leaves or green lettuce. I first spread the tortilla with a layer of home made mayo. Once rolled I make a nice diagonal cut through it and serve on a salad plate with a few cut up Basil leaves for decoration. I have also used half a tortilla dressed up as an open face Danish sandwich. Pizzas have also been made using this healthy no grain bread sub. Tortillas have also been left pancake style to be covered with a delicious serving of Butter Chicken or Meatball Spaghetti serving. I keep a pile of Tortillas in the fridge separated individually with plastic wrap, and all sitting in a round casserole dish. They stay perfect until used up. Welcome Diabetics and food lovers.

  29. Jody says:

    I’ve been making more of my own bread recently. I suppose I could store the bread in a plain brown paper bag. I’ll give that a try. Or…….Christie’s Antique show is coming up very soon. It’s good to have something specific to look for. See you there….

  30. Christina Houston says:

    What happens when you store it in the refrigerator? I think it makes it last longer.

    • Karen says:

      Bread has 2 kinds of starches. They both harden. The first time the first starches harden is when you take it out of the oven and it cools. That’s why bread firms up after allowing it to rest from the oven. The second starch hardens with time AND temperature. The cool temperature of the refrigerator causes these starches to harden immediately. A freezer cools the bread down to freezing so quickly that the starches don’t have a chance to harden up before they’re frozen and basically immobile. So the answer to your question is, refrigerating bread makes it as stale as it would be after leaving on the counter for a week. You lose all the good texture. Whereas keeping it in the freezer or on the counter, you don’t. ~ karen!

  31. Ardith says:

    Keeping (wrapped) bread in the refrigerator is the winner, hands down

    • Karen says:

      (I’m just copying and pasting my answer from a previous commenter) “Bread has 2 kinds of starches. They both harden. The first time the first starches harden is when you take it out of the oven and it cools. That’s why bread firms up after allowing it to rest from the oven. The second starch hardens with time AND temperature. The cool temperature of the refrigerator causes these starches to harden immediately. A freezer cools the bread down to freezing so quickly that the starches don’t have a chance to harden up before they’re frozen and basically immobile. So the answer to your question is, refrigerating bread makes it as stale as it would be after leaving on the counter for a week. You lose all the good texture. Whereas keeping it in the freezer or on the counter, you don’t. ~ karen!”

  32. Jo says:

    Guess I’ll add my two cents. I buy fresh baked, sliced bread, and store it in its plastic bag — IN THE OVEN.

    I rarely use the oven, and a loaf of bread stays fresh all week using this method. I guess if you cook a lot, it might be an inconvenience to remember to remove the bread before preheating the oven, and wait until it’s completely cool before returning the bread, but even I have to do that occasionally, and it’s no bother.

  33. Mary W says:

    Thank you for your experiment. I’ve been making my own bread for a while now, rarely eat store bought anymore. No taste. Freeze what you’re not going to eat within a day. Store fresh in a paper bag. That is for homemade bread. Store bought ‘wonderful’ bread can last up to 3 months with no sign of spoilage. Imagine what it does inside you. We used to use that for squeezing into dough balls for making doll pottery or for fish bait. After all this discussion, it is pretty understandable now why bread pudding and brown betty were such classic desserts back in the day. I still remember how the bread drawer smelled at my Grandma’s house. Had to push the metal lid back when you opened the drawer and all the breads were just left naked in the bin. I know of a science teacher that showed her students the reality of bread – she fed a couple mice only ‘wonderful’ store bread and another couple with whole wheat bread – the wonderful mice died. Seems nutrition is some kind of necessary thing.

  34. Hester says:

    I so wanted to glass dome method to be the winner. It looks beautiful. Thanks for this post!

  35. Sonia says:

    Such a timely post for me, I just bought a bread box yesterday at the Container Store. I looked at many versions and found some cheap ones at TJMaxx, Home Goods and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The problem with those cheap ones including that one on Amazon with 2,000+ reviews is that they are very flimsy. I bit the bullet and bought a Brabantia which is at least nice looking. I would have happily bought any bread box you recommended after research and testing ’cause you are my first go to before I purchase anything.

  36. Lisa says:

    YOU can make a wooden one!!! (and show us how!!!!)
    I’m waiting……………..

    • Robin says:

      Exactly right, Lisa. I have had a simple, wooden breadbox with a drop-down front for 30 years. It keeps my homemade soughdough bread just fine for a week. I put the cut side of the bread down on the floor of the box and close the lid. Good to go. It is not air tight, but the cut side is against a surface, so it doesn’t dry out. The crust stays good and the bread is good for sandwiches for four days, excellent for toast or panini otherwise.

  37. Erin says:

    I use my bread box to store tea. We always forgot the bread was in there. Now we store the bread on top of the bread box or in the freezer.

  38. Lori Minch says:

    When we moved from the Midwest to the hot, humid, buggy Mid-South, I had to learn new storage methods for lots of foods. We bought a bread box, and it has made all the difference. Bread, English muffins, tortillas, all last forever in the bread box.

    • Karen says:

      Memphis, right?! Yes, I’m going to invest in a bread box I think. ~ karen!

    • Michele-in-Austin says:

      How do you store your bread and tortillas in the bread box? I got mine especially for homemade sourdough, but your mentioning tortillas really caught my eye! I guess you leave them in the plastic they are purchased in? I figure the homemade bread will stay uncovered in the bread box (which is arriving in a couple days!), cut side down… (I live in a hot and humid climate and the internal temperature of our home in summer is generally 77-80 degrees Fahrenheit, most commonly 79.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Art of Doing Stuff