Keeping bread fresh?

soozSeptember 13, 2013

We're having company for dinner on Saturday to celebrate the birthday of a friend, and today was the only day I could go to the store.

I picked up a nice crusty loaf of "French" bread for garlic bread.

What's the best way to keep it fresh for Saturday's dinner, when it will be magically transformed into garlic-y deliciousness?

It's in a paper sleeve, not wrapped again in plastic inside the paper sleeve, so when I got home, I wrapped it tightly with foil and left it sitting on the counter.

Any suggestions are appreciated!



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The science behind bread staling is an interesting study, and you already have several things going against you. You chose a lean bread, one that doesn't have enriching ingredients like fat, dairy, eggs, etc. Lean dough breads stale the quickest - scientist say within the first 2 hours the crumb, crust and smell quickly change and degrade; which is why Europeans purchase loaves of lean bread on a daily basis. They just typically aren't good "keepers". Personally, if I would have purchased the bread on Thursday for a dinner on Saturday, I would have frozen the loaf in a close-fitting wrap (plastic wrap or foil, or both). I also would have left it in the paper wrapper instead of foil if I was going to store it at room temperature. The crust is sure to get much softer from the moisture in the crumb migrating to the crust when wrapped in foil and left at room temperature than in the paper. But you can redeem some of this by re-heating the loaf just before serving.

Were you going to toast/grill individual slices or reheat the whole or partial loaf in the oven? If you are toasting/grilling slices, you don't have to do anything. If you want to do the whole loaf, prepare it, wrap it in foil and bake it for 10-20 minutes at 300-350-degrees F. In order to to re-gelatinize the starches in the staling bread a slice at a time, use a (clean) plant mister which sprays a very fine mist. Lightly spritz a slice and warm the slice/s in a toaster but only for a moment. Just enough to warm the slice/s.

You can only successfully re-gelatinize the starches once, whether it's a slice or the whole loaf (or a portion of a loaf) and you need to use it immediately once it's been warmed.

Some things to keep in mind about staling breads:

-Unwrapped bread looses moisture and flavor faster, but retains crumb texture.

-Wrapped bread stays softer (especially if you baked the bread and wrap it while it is still slightly warm) but the crust softens quickly, OR, a loaf tastes better when you wrap it after the loaf is completely cold.

-Don't store the bread in the refrigerator. That happens to be a temperature where bread stales the fastest and the crumb firms the fastest. Optimum storage temperature is 70-95-degrees F.

-Freezing has the effect of about one day's storage time, and cold freezer 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. The tight wrap is necessary to keep the moisture in the crumb from migrating through the crust, creating ice crystals, which are fund when bread is stored in a loose-fitting bag in the freezer.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 5:11AM
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Grainlady, I had hoped you'd ring in on this!!! Thank you so much for the input and all the great info!!


    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 4:11PM
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My husband bakes bread every week and we can never eat it all in a day. I double wrap it in saran wrap, then zip locks and store in the deep freezer. It isn't perfect, but I haven't found a better way to keep it fresh. We only thaw the amount we will eat in a day.

Do you ever wonder why store bought sandwich bread lasts for a week????? That's why we bake our bread.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 4:05PM
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I know this is past your dinner deadline, but maybe for next time. I buy good artisan bread and always keep one in the freezer for "emergencies" like guests for dinner when I wouldn't have time to get to the bakery. I just freeze it in a ziplock freezer bag and when I am cooking dinner, I take it out of the bag and put it in the oven, right on the rack, frozen solid. Depending on the size/shape of the loaf, for a baguette I would heat the oven to about 375 and put it in for maybe 5-7 min. It will be crusty on the outside and soft and like freshly baked in the middle. If it's not quite thawed, I'll turn off the oven and leave it another minute or two.

For a rounder loaf I do a cooler oven, maybe 325 and heat it for about 15 or 20 min. It tastes like I just baked it.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 10:15PM
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