Preventing moldy bread
I eat bread relatively infrequently, but when I do, I like to have it fresh. I also very much like having the right kind of bread (hot dog rolls for hot dogs, sandwich buns for hamburgers, sliced loaves for toast, etc...).
Since it's hard to buy just enough for one sitting, I find that I often have three or four packages lying around at any given time if I want to have a chance of having what I want on hand when I want it. The problem is that it doesn't keep. If I leave it out in a cupboard or on the counter, it gets moldy in a few days. If I put it in the fridge, it gets stale in a few days. I really don't have room in my freezer, but I've also never been happy with that either.
Does a breadbox help? Will it prevent mold growth? Is one kind better than another? Do I keep the bread in the bags in the breadbox or loose?
How do you all keep bread?
I'm a freezer person myself. My mother had a bread box she aquired through S&H Green Stamps. I don't remember it keeping bread any fresher. The box always had an odd stale bread smell.
That being said ...
Most of the tips I've read, recommend using a bread box.
The combination of temperature and moisture are what keeps bread fresh or makes it go stale.
Keeping bread in the fridge is the worst thing you can do. The refrigeration process removes the moisture accelerating the bread going stale.
Some studies don't support moisture loss as a problem, but rather it is the temperature that bread is kept at that causes staleness. Staling is most rapid at temperatures just above 32F and slowest at temperatures below 0F.
The more moisture in the bread, the longer it will keep. However, too much moisture encourages the growth of mold. Here are some suggestions for storing at room temperature:
- keep in a dark, dry place such as a bread box, microwave or a kitchen drawer.
- wrap tightly in a towel. Spinkle the towel with water once a day to restore loss of moisture.
- keep it in an airtight container or a plastic bag which you can seal tightly. Plastic, as you know, changes the texture of the bread because the moisture in the bread is distributed to the crust, causing it to go soft.
- store in a paper or cloth bread bag
- add a rib of celery to your bread bag. I think the tip about potatoes, celery, etc is to keep the loaf from drying out too much and going stale.
Here's a link with some tips for keeping bread fresh. They have a suggestion for keeping it in a fridge.
The biggest recommendation is to freeze anything you will not use that day. Should you go the route of freezing, here are some tips to defrost:
- thaw frozen bread in an unopened freezer bag at room temperature for 3 - 4 hours.
- if you need a quicker method - wrap the frozen bread in aluminum foil and place it in a preheated 160°F oven for twenty to thirty minutes. This is the temperature at which the starch in the bread changes back to it's fresh baked structure.
The reheating has to do something with the composition of starch in bread. Bread tastes fresher because the original molecular structure is restored. Harold McGee in his book "On Food and Cooking" has a few pages about the scientific explanation for bread going stale and why reheating restores freshness.
I guess those infomercial bags that hermetically seal foods that keep indefinately would not work because it seems they suck all the air out and you would have flat bread. Don't know. You could look into it. But McGee said there was a study where bread was hermetically sealed but went stale because it was kept at the wrong temperature.
The following site has inforamtion about storing and bread crocks. Never heard of them. Don't know why they would work.
And then there is always the spiritual aspect as found in the Talmud. See link below and scroll down to keeping bread fresh.
In keeping with the spiritual, you could also make sandwiches for the homeless with the remaining bread and drop them off at a homeless shelter. Even peanut butter and jelly is appreciated. Not only would you feed yourself, but you would feed your spirit.
Besides commercial loaves with preservatives, naturally leavened bread, e.g. sourdough, stays fresh longest. I've had loaves stay fresh up to 5 days. When it starts to get stale I either make croutons or make excellent crackers that you would pay $4 for in a gourmet food store.
Place the loaf in the freezer until rock hard. Freezing makes the bread easy to slice thinly. Slice bread as thin as possible. place on a tray and spray both sides with oil. I use a Misto. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any dried herbs you have lying around. Bake until brown. People will assk where you bought them.
There are numerous recipes that call for stale bread: breadpudding (my fav), onion soup with a large cheese laden "crouton," some Italian soups, panzanella. Hold some back in the freezer for freshly made bread crumbs whenever you need them to garnish a gratin, etc., and for an element in stuffed veggies. There's also an old Italian custom of browning breadcrumbs in butter to sprinkle over pastas.
But breadpudding is unbeatable and can be made savory as well as sweet.
I've never found a solution to this one, either. Frozenbread is not that great. Neither is anti-fungal-laced commercial bread. The only answer is to eat more and buy less. I try to buy only a few rolls, or whatever, that I have immediate use for and try to get the smaller baguettes and Cuban loaves (which die in a matter of hours). I still wind up supporting a large duckpopulation. At least bread is fairly cheap.
What's wrong with frozen bread?
Good quality bread, frozen right away when it's freshest, comes out just fine in my own experience. And if you're THAT particular, find a way to buy it fresh when you need it.
Hey! Come on, we're talking about bread here, not the Mona Lisa! Of course, that is my brain-dead, personal, honest and humble opinion.
Frozen anything is good if you're hungry enough. Thefreezer is where things go to die and later be resurrected as duck food or fish bait. Same as that little drawer in the bottom of the refrigerator labeled"Vegetable Crisper".This is where goes to turn green and lettuce goes to liquify. After two meals, everything in my house is automatically re-distributed to lower orders of the food chain. Guilt might delay the process by freezing "perfectly good food" but only until I comeacross it the third or forth time while searching for a fresh battery or something. I'm of the "use it and lose it" school. Nothing irritates me more than having myice and beer mugs crowded by a freexer-burned $1.50 loaf of bread.
To be honest, the only bread we ever freeze is high-quality French Bread that we can't eat in one sitting; don't want to have it the next day for toast or garlic bread; or plan to have it soon and we simply unfreeze it. Works for us, maybe because we have room in the freezer and short-term time horizons.
Re: things going into the freezer or vegetable crisper to die.
You're talking to the King and Queen of throwing leftovers and other food things away. WE throw more away than some people eat, it's a travesty. I think it comes from trying to buy for too many days at one time/ and not wanting to go back to the Super grocery stores too frequently.
You've reminded me to try and improve in this area, with respect for the hungrier and less fortunate people in the world.
We call frozen leftovers and doggie bags "delayed garbage", because that's what it really is.
As for bread, I find that buying small quantities of good bread, throwing it in the freezer immediately, and warming individual servings in the oven or toaster (never the microwave) is the best tasting compromise, especially for baguettes and french bread.