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Stumbled upon great way to keep bread fresh!

I have a household of one and have trouble keeping breads fresh long enough to use them up. Sometimes I just don't have room in the freezer...

I purchased an artisan loaf (olive and rosemary, no preservatives) recently and had a portion with my soup. I was in a hurry to clean up the kitchen and stuck the rest of the loaf in a Romertopf casserole that I had not put away after using the day before.

Out of sight, out of mind...several days later I remembered the bread. Once I opened the clay pot I found the bread was still fresh as can be!

Not sure why it worked, but this is a trick will be using again.

Just wanted to share - a quick search did not show prior mention of this.

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  1. Interesting.... my Dad sometimes keeps bread in the Le Creuset he leaves on top of his stove. Maybe this is why?

    1. I have a fresh loaf of artisan Tuscan bread and a Romertopf so I'm going to try this and report back. Many thanks for the tip. Unused country loaves usually get made into croutons or breadcrumbs here so it will be fun to see how the taste and texture are after a few days..

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Maybe store some of it as you usually do and compare?

        I'm curious if this was just a fluke or if it really works.

        Now that I've thought on it I recall seeing these in the past:
        http://www.henrywatson.com/retail-sho...
        I had assumed they were primarily decorative and never thought about it again, but perhaps there is something to it?

      2. We used to call such a thing designed for the purpose a "bread box."

        3 Replies
        1. re: GH1618

          The bread boxes I grew up with were of the metal variety. Big, bulky and served as a storage spot more than as a keeping aid iirc.

          The terracotta is the twist which is new to me and seems to be key.

          1. re: meatn3

            The principle is the same. A bread box is an enclosed space, but is not airtight. It keeps the bread from drying out too quickly, while not accelerating the development of mold. It is a matter of moderating the humidity. A bread box is generally lined with wood, not merely a metal box. The terracotta might have a similar effect.

            1. re: GH1618

              Do an image search for "vintage metal breadboxes" and you will see the type I refer to. They often were an accessory to matching canister sets. The only time I ever have seen wood in one it was built into the door and served as a cutting board when opened.

              Perhaps different regions used different styles. I grew up where it was hot, humid and buggy. The boxes were used more to keep bugs away than anything else. Same principal as a pie safe.

        2. I'm in the same boat, single person household who likes a quality loaf of bread. I will admit here freely and openly, at risk of public ridicule and loosing my official CH membership ring, that I store my bread in a Ziploc bag...<allow time for gasps and agitated murmuring to subside>.

          Now quiet down, quiet down. You in the back, put down that pitchfork and torch. I realize that I am committing a mortal sin against the integrity of the crust but I have come to accept that it is a lesser sin than allowing the bread to go stale before eating it. And no, I really don't want to mess with portioning it, freezing, defrosting, etc., etc.

          But it so happens I have just such a clay pot sitting decoratively atop my upper cabinets (what else does one really do with them?). So I'm very interested meatn3, does storing artisinal bread in your Romertopf maintain crust integrity? If so I will cheerfully relocate my ceramic casserole to my countertop from its lofty perch.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kmcarr

            Seemed too.

            I had planned to make a savory bread pudding from the rest of the loaf. It was too fresh when I checked it! Had to remove a portion and leave it out over night and make the pudding the next day.

          2. A shoebox lined with wax paper works for me.

            1 Reply
            1. I keep my bread in the microwave.

              1 Reply
              1. re: donovt

                What a great idea! I'm in the same boat: single-person household, don't like the quality of bread after freezing, don't want to always have to buy bread with preservatives to keep it from going moldy. I've always kept my bread in the toaster oven, but that's more for space-saving on the counter; it still dries out/gets stale in there. I'm gonna try the microwave now. Thanks for the tip!

              2. From what I understand, bread spoils not because it drys out but because gets overly moist. So keeping it in a clay pot makes sense, as the clay will absorb any excess environmental moisture, thus keeping your bread nice and fresh. I know, it is counterintuitive but what is happening when bread goes stale is that the starch molecules in the bread are crystallizing, which requires moisture. So to keep bread in a humid environment will actually speed up the process.
                :)

                5 Replies
                1. re: freia

                  Crystallization of amylose & amylopectin does not require water. It is in fact the opposite. When the starch molecules in bread go from their gelatinized state to crystallized (retorgradation) moisture is expelled from the starch granules. This will happen in a moist or dry environment. The process is greatly accelerated a cold (refrigerator) temperatures. Bread becomes stale when starches crystallize, it then becomes dry when the water once used to gelatinize the starch granules is lost due to evaporation. Preservatives in baked goods have two purposes, first to inhibited starch crystallization and second to prevent loss of moisture due to evaporation.

                  1. re: kmcarr

                    I'm sure this says it better that I did:
                    http://myhbar.wordpress.com/2009/07/0...
                    I'm sure I must have either read it wrong or not articulated what is going on clearly enough. My bad.
                    In any event, keeping bread in a clay jar seems to make sense, given the crystallization process involved.

                    1. re: freia

                      Nothing wrong with putting bread in a plastic bag/ziploc, I do it all the time but I never eat the bread without toasting it once in the bag. A slight toast will bring it's original crispiness back and taste like it did when you bought it. I don't get the whole blasphemy of using plastic bags to store bread.

                      1. re: ios94

                        @DONOVT- I keep my bread in the microwave as well- we are short on storage, so it works for us! I learned to store anywhere I could as headgalley on a dive boat- cooked more than one watermelon warmin' up the oven for breakfast bacon!

                        1. re: OldJalamaMama

                          Us too. We started doing it just because we had no space and soon realized that the bread was lasting longer.

                2. We have found wrapping it in aluminum foil keeps bread from going stale so quickly.

                  1. I don't have a romertopf, but will try this in my tagine. The lid is unglazed, so maybe that will absorb the moisture from the bread long enough to keep it fresh. Only one of us is a sandwich eater, so it takes a few days to get through a loaf of bread. I have found that since we moved to a house with a built-in bread box, the artisan bread does keep longer. In our old house, I used to freeze it and just defrost as needed. Yeah, it was dry, but dry is better than moldy...

                    1. Our bead box is chrome and lined with wood on the inside. The air holes are too small to let a mouse in. I think that's the reason bread boxes were invented.

                      1. My mother designed a kitchen back in the late sixties which had a breadbox drawer. It pulled out and incorporated a sliding lid made out of metal. I do not remember if the rest of it was lined or not. It was below the level of the countertop, but not directly below it. Am now in the UK where counter situated breadboxes used to be quite common. Have seen the clay pots but lots of people now seem to be going for the vintage or vintage look metal ones. I never put bread in the fridge. Have found though that sourdough loaves last a lot longer than any other type. I tend to stash my bread in my microwave now, or else the cupboard above, usually put in a large ziploc bag.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cathodetube

                          >>>
                          My mother designed a kitchen back in the late sixties which had a breadbox drawer. It pulled out and incorporated a sliding lid made out of metal.
                          <<<

                          My mother's kitchen (back in Vermont) had one of those, too! Their kitchen was built in the 1930's with this feature. Sometimes the drawer was pulled out and a wooden cutting board placed across it for an extra work surface. Sadly, when they redesigned the kitchen this was not part of the finished kitchen.

                        2. As I mentioned upthread, the fresh Tuscon loaf of bread we bought on Saturday last, the 3rd, was put into the Romertopf on Sunday, 6 days ago. On Wednesday I had a slice and thought the bread tasted just fine. The crust was crisp but not tough and the texture of the bread was not too chewy. Last night I made a vegetable soup recipe from the current COTM and thought it was time to sample the bread. again. I buttered small slices with which I intended to sop up the broth. The bread was not stale. Crust was very crisp, though, and the texture was not as soft but all in all it was still quite edible. In the past at 5 days old it would have been hard as a rock. This bread wasn't.

                          Thanks for the tip, meatn3...!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Gio

                            So glad it helped - and glad to have confirmation that my experience wasn't a fluke!
                            So often I have only been able to get one days use from fresh loaves. This is going to be a nice change in my kitchen!

                          2. I picked up a Romertopf clay covered casserole at a thrift shop because it looked like the perfect shape for a sandwich loaf. I've been baking my loaves in this pot and then keeping the bread in the same pot on the kitchen counter for several days. Same deal with a Le Creuset knock-off I bought for a fraction of the price at Target: Both pots work well at both functions. The bread stays mold free and fresh. It does, however, lose the crunchy crust, which goes soft.

                            1. Römertopf makes a task specific Clay Bread Crock. You can check it out on their site:
                              http://www.roemertopf.de/english/roem...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sneaker

                                Interesting!

                                I had looked at http://www.romertopfonline.com/ and had not seen this.
                                Thanks for the info!

                              2. We are a two person household, and we each eat different bread. I keep our bread in the fridge. I've been doing this for years. It works find. I do have a built in bread box, but we keep mostly chips and hot dog buns in there, as it turns out.