Fresh, homemade bread is one of the greatest treats a kitchen can produce. However, once you’ve made a fresh loaf, you’ll need to protect that wonderful flavor.
Since bread has a short shelf life, you can either opt to freeze a portion of your bread, or pop it in your bread box to use within the week.
Bread Box Storage Options
Wooden Bread Boxes
They are considered to be the best bread box for most home kitchens.
If you enjoy wood tones in your kitchen, a wooden bread box can be a striking addition to any counter top. They come in a variety of styles, shapes and finishes.
One of the most common styles is the roll-top wooden bread box. Your bread will be protected from pests and excess air flow.
- Pro: A roll-top box is a lovely addition and will keep your bread in a humidity controlled environment for peak flavor.
- Con: The front of a roll-top box is slanted and will cut down on internal storage dimensions.
Metal Bread Boxes
There are several styles of bread box that offer an antique or retro look, reminiscent of old storage tins.
Some include a lid that doubles as a cutting board, making this investment a multi-purpose addition to your counter top.
It should be noted that while bread boxes can be extremely useful to use and lovely to look at, they are not small. If you’re tired of storing plastic bread bags on your counter, a bread box will certainly neaten up that storage.
However, if counter-top storage is limited, choosing the right bread box is critical to functioning well in your kitchen.
- Pro: Metal bread boxes are easier to clean than wooden ones as there are no seams to catch crumbs.
- Con: Any bumps or dings will be permanent, though that may add to a rustic or distressed look.
Plastic Bread Bags
For those of us who grew up eating sliced bread from the grocery store, one of the constants to storing sliced bread is that it needs to stay in plastic.
If you get the chance to switch to homemade or whole-loaf bread, you can break away from the plastic.
- Pro: Plastic bags do protect the edges of sliced bread from drying out.
- Con: Plastic bags contribute to mold growth by limiting the air flow around bread.
How To Store Homemade Bread
Handling fresh homemade bread requires letting it rest so the crust can fully cure as it cools. If you’ve ever smelled homemade bread, you know that this resting period can be a challenge; the smell is too inviting to ignore!
Freeze A Portion
For long-term storage of fresh bread, food expert Chris Perez with TheKitchn.com recommends the following steps to splitting a loaf and enjoying a portion of it while allowing the crust to fully develop:
- Slice off the portion you want and store the rest of the uncut loaf standing up on the cut end until the loaf is completely cured. This protects the cut end from growing stale while the bread cools.
- Wrap the cooled bread in an airtight storage container. You might start with plastic wrap, add a layer of aluminum foil, then place this bundle in a ziploc bag.
- Freeze or refrigerate? The best place to store bread is in the freezer; the temperature of most refrigerators actually contributes to bread going stale.
The best way to freeze homemade bread is to cut it into chunks you can use within a few hours once thawed.
Using the triple wrap method listed above, you can protect your bread from freezer burn. Allow the bread to thaw completely, then re-warm in the oven for no more than 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 177 degrees Celsius.
Final tip for handling homemade bread? Cut individual slices with an electric knife.
SEE ALSO: Best Electric Knives
As previously stated, refrigerating bread causes it to go stale by altering the molecular structure of the starches. Wrapping it in plastic for room temperature or refrigerator storage contributes to mold as the bread can’t breathe.
While you can use paper bread bags for homemade bread, these don’t offer enough humidity control to protect the bread from going stale.
Enter the bread box. Before the advent of refrigeration and plastic storage bags, the decision of how to store bread was fairly simple; if you wanted your bread free of rodents and other pests, you needed to use a storage container with fairly high walls and a lid.
As it turns out, bread boxes offer other bonuses. Because they offer a space with little air flow but are not airtight, bread boxes keep bread from going stale yet prevent molding by letting the bread dry slightly over time. The best way to store bread is to let it breathe a bit.
How Long Does Homemade Bread Last?
Per home baking authorities with A Return To Simplicity, homemade bread stored in a bread box can keep for up to a week and will keep a fresh crust and hearty flavor.
Moisture, excess air flow, restricted air flow and a temperature just above freezing can all damage a loaf of bread and promote either toughening of the bread or molding of the crust.
When studying how to make bread last longer, it’s important to remember those factors that will damage the loaf.
Bread is a living thing. For best taste and texture, you’ll either need to store it where it can age well or freeze it temporarily. A bread box is a great way to control the humidity your bread is exposed to, reduce the risk of mold and maintain great flavor.