how do you preserve freshness of homemade bread?

natalija_gardenerMarch 15, 2010

I wrap it in plastic, but it dries pretty quick since it does not have any preservatives. I am new to home breadmaking. I would use Ziploc, but often size of my bread too big for the size of Ziplocs I have.

Any advise on that?

Thanks for any help!

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I'm not sure you really can.

You'll probably hear suggestions to freeze the bread, and defrost when you want to eat some. However, in my experience, I've found that defrosted bread tastes like the ice box, or just never tastes that great in general. Even when toasted. (JMHO)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 5:03PM
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thanks Duchapm!
I used to freeze store bough bread all the time.I would buy two Sprouted Breads in Costco and freeze one. I did not mind the taste, becuse store bread not that tasty anyway.Now I bake one loaf myself in Zo. We have family of three so we pretty much eat one loaf in three- four days but it just dries too quickly, compared to store-bought. I would prefer the other method than freezing though for home-made. May be I need to find bigger Ziplocs or just cut bread in two and put it in two separate bags.
May be somebody else could share their methods?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 5:43PM
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Have you seen these Hefty jumbo size bags? They work great for oversize items like a loaf of bread. Also, you can research this yourself but when I was making a lot of homemade bread I read that it needs to be exposed to a tiny bit of air so I would take a toothpick and poke a few holes the ziploc to give it a bit of air. This is actually supposed to make the bread last longer.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hefty jumbo bags

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 5:49PM
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I freeze whole loaves of fresh bread. I wrap it well in foil when it has barely cooled and put the wrapped loaves in a plastic bag. Then I reheat the frozen bread still wrapped in foil in a 300 oven for 30 minutes and unwrap for the last 7 or 8 minutes to allow the crust to crisp. I defy you to tell the difference between that and freshly baked bread.
I alwo make smaller loaves. When my husband was alive I would bake loaves just big enough for us for dinner and for toast for breakfast.
Smaller loaves means that bread is either frozen or or no more then 12 hours out of the warming oven.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 6:42PM
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Hello all,

I get my homemade bread to last and stay fresh for about 5 days.
1. I use 2 TBSP instant potato in each loaf regardless of type.
2. I use vital wheat gluten powder 4 teaspoons in each loaf I make
3. I let all bread cool completely on a cooling rack
4. I put a clean white paper towel (or 2) into a large 2 gallon zip bag and keep bread in a cool place.

I absolutely can not stand the taste of bread that has been refrigerated or frozen. I can tell the difference in texture mostly. I tried using those green bags for produce and they did not work at all but ""seemed"" to work pretty well for bread. Still my bread only will last 5 days - on day six it gets made into french toast or bread pudding.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 2:48AM
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There was a discussion on this subject recently, and my preference was (and still is :), self-lined, linen bags I make myself. They're simple to make, even for those who don't sew.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 10:45AM
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I've been making baby loaves: take the portion of dough for one regular 8x4 or 9x5 loaf and cut it in half; form each half into a nicely rounded ball; put both balls of dough into one greased loaf pan (either size indicated above), bake, cool on a rack when done, then gently pull apart the two baby loaves and finish cooling at room temp.

I freeze my extra baby loaf, wrap well in plastic wrap and then put into a freezer weight zip bag, getting out as much air as possible when sealing the bag. Keep frozen until you eat up all the first baby loaf then pull out the second one.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 2:13PM
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My bread gets green molded fast so I put half in the refrig & the other in the freezer. Its been keeping much longer in the frig.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 2:32PM
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I don't care for refrigerated bread either, but I like to refrigerate bread dough. I can make a batch, bake part of it and put the rest in the fridge, then bake it the next day or two days later.

I can bake a small loaf or a few rolls when I'm making something else in the oven and I have fresh bread every couple of days.

I also freeze bread dough like Teresa does, I find it'll hold for about a month, but then the yeast loses it's "oomph" and the bread doesn't rise as well.

I haven't found one yet, but I'm going to try Sol's linen bread bag one of these days....


    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 3:23PM
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Off topic, a bit, but Annie, I've found that pizza dough works best for me after a few days in the fridge for the very reason you sited after freezing dough. The loss of "oomph" from the yeast gives me a preferred thinner crust and is much easier to stretch.
Back to the topic now...

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 6:20PM
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I have read that malt sugar [dme: dried malt extract] adds to shelf life. I use a tablespoon of that or a tablespoon of honey [also reputed to add shelf life] in no-knead loaves that use 24 oz of flour. Both also enhance browning. I usually get 5-7 days of shelf life with a plastic bag open at one end so the loaf can have some air--walking a line between too moist, which encourages mold, and too dry.
When occasionally I buy a store loaf, the amount of time before it gets moldy can be SCAREY!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 7:25PM
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I usually put my bread in the bag that boxed cereal comes in... But don't use the ones from Kellogg's, they're too thin and you can't get out all the cereal 'dust'.

Rita O'Tay

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 11:37PM
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CA Kate

I make 2 large loaves at one time. When the loaves are cooled I slice both. Then I put 1/2 of each in a ziplock bag and suck out as much air as I can without crushing the bread, then freeze. I can take out however many pieces I need and leave the rest frozen.

If I could get a bigger ziplock I wouldn't have to store half-loaves. Tracy, I'll look for the Hefty ones.)

 Sol, do you just keep the fresh loaves in the bags, or do you freeze in them too? Could you share the basic directions for the bags? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 2:48PM
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Teresa, I never would have thought of maky two tiny pull apart loaves. What a great idea!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 3:11PM
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CA Kate


    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 12:21PM
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I generally do like Annie and make smaller loaves and save part of the dough in the fridge. Another thing you can do is make flour tortillas and vacuum seal them. They will stay fresh in the fridge that way for a very long time and will taste fresh when heated up. You might be able to do this with pita bread, but I haven't tried it. If you are worried about them sticking together, you can separate them with smal squares of parchment paper before sealing. Once vacuum sealed, the tortillas are as hard as a plate, which makes them easy to store without breaking.

I usually use VWG and potato flour (or potato water) when making bread, but I didn't know that that was supposed to make it stay fresh longer. My grandmother always saved the water from when she boiled potatoes and used that in her bread, which she made several times a week. She would store leftover dough in the fridge for one or two days, and she would also make lots of dinner rolls and share them with her neighbors.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 6:40PM
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I don't know why, but a good breadbox really does keep bread longer. I put homemade challa in a ziploc bag and keep it in the breadbox (which is in the pantry) and it keeps quite a while -- doesn't taste like the first day after a while, but it's still good.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 12:57AM
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I use plain old-fashioned bread bags (they even have twist-ties). They don't seal like Ziploc but a loaf of bread fits in them.

I need to find that discussion on linen bags, I may have to try those too.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 4:10AM
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The science behind the staling of bread is really interesting to study. You need to choose the right ingredients, don't over-bake the bread, and to choose the correct type of wrapping to help keep breads "fresh" longer than 2-3 days.

Moisture changes in the loaf after it cools, and that contributes to staling through evaporation and moisture redistribution. If you leave your loaves unwrapped, you will quickly see a 10% weight loss, but usually less than 1% in tightly-wrapped bread. So how quickly you package your loaves after they are cool, and what you package them in can affect it's "freshness". Choose a close wrap - such as plastic wrap or a tight-fitting plastic bag, rather than a loose-fitting plastic bag.

If you reuse plastic bags for your bread storage, make sure they are sprayed with a bleach/water solution (1-quart water and 1 t. bleach) to kill any mold spores on the bag surface. Adding coconut oil to your bread will also aid in preventing mold longer than using vegetable oil or butter, as well as using honey and agave nectar instead of sugar.

When bread is wrapped loosely in a plastic bag, the moisture from the crumb of the bread quickly migrates through the crust and then into the air in the bag. Even more so if the bread has one end sliced, or if you slice the entire loaf. I only slice bread as needed so it stays fresh longer. The moisture level in the crust increases from about 12 to 28% when stored in a loose-fitting plastic bag, such as a zip-lock bag which is much larger than the loaf of bread.

The worst place to store bread is in the refrigerator. In one scientific experiment I have in my files on the subject, refrigerated bread staled as much in one day as bread held at 86°F did in six.

Because of the ingredients I use, methods of making and proper storage of the bread, the 100% whole wheat bread recipe I make will stay fresh enough for a peanut butter sandwich after 7 days. We typically use one 1-pound loaf of bread a week. Those ingredients that aid in preventing staling and mold are agave nectar (or honey), coconut oil, and a mixture of chia seeds and water. Chia seeds hold moisture in the crumb of the bread. I also use an overnight sponge method to make the bread, make sure the dough is well-hydrated, use a long, cool, slow rise, and make sure I don't over-bake the bread.

If you choose to make lean breads, they begin to stale within 2 hours of baking, which is why fat-free loaves like Italian or French breads stale so quickly. Fats slow staling by improving the loaf volume.

-Sweeteners slow staling directly by retaining moisture. The better choices for sweeteners are honey and agave nectar, especially if you are going to freeze the bread.

-Use emulsifiers, such as egg yolks or lecithin.

Choose breads that are good keepers to begin with.
-breads made with starters (acidic doughs)
-breads prepared with cold slow rises
-breads that include moist cooked grains (wheat, rice, etc.) or fruit (such as raisins or currants).
-breads containing dairy products, potato, potato starch, mashed potato or other mashed cooked vegetable, potato water, eggs, oatmeal (dry or cooked), etc.
-well-hydrated (moist) doughs - Slack doughs, along with optimum proofing and oven temperatures, maximize absorption and reduce staling. It's better to err on the side of a wet dough.

If your dough is dry and you over-bake the loaf, this contributes to breads quickly drying out and going stale. Bake most panned loaves of bread to an internal temperature between 195-205°F. The higher the temperature, the dryer the loaf will be.

Some of the more interesting aspects of staling breads...

-Unwrapped bread looses moisture and flavor faster, but retains crumb texture. If you use a loaf of bread quickly, just up-end the cut side on a cutting board and cover the loaf with a cotton towel. This method is often used by people because they like the improved crumb texture from using this method.

-Wrapped bread stays softer (especially if you wrap the bread while it's still slightly warm) and tastes better (especially when wrapped after the loaf is completely cool), but the crust softens faster.

-The crumb firms fastest at low temperatures between 20-50°F, which are refrigerator temperatures.

-High storage temperatures (above 95°F) affect color and flavor.

-Optimum storage temperature for bread is 70-95°F.

-Freezing at 0° to -20°F has the effect of about one day's storage time, but cold storage effectively stops all other aspects of staling IF the bread is tightly wrapped in one or two layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. Tight wrapping is necessary to keep the moisture in the crumb from migrating through the crust, creating ice crystals which are found when bread is stored in a loose-fitting bag in the freezer.

-You can re-gelatinize the starches in stale bread by spritzing a slice with a fine mist spritzer (often used for plants) mist the slice with water. Warm the slice/s in a toaster for a moment or two. You can only use this method once. If you want to re-gelatinize a whole loaf, or a portion of an unsliced loaf, wrap it in foil and bake it for 10-20 minutes at 300-350°F. But you will need to use it quickly.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 10:32AM
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CA Kate

Thank you for the Tutorial, Grainlady; it is much appreciated.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 11:00PM
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I find that putting the heel back on the loaf after cutting a slice or slices keeps the rest of the loaf fresher longer. The foreshortened loaf goes into a ziplock bag and then into the fridge.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 10:18AM
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