how to

store | freeze | refresh

One of the benefits of fresh sourdough bread (bread made with a sourdough culture) is that it has a longer shelf life than store-bought bread. It can typically last for about 4 to 5 days at room temperature. Whatever you do, please do not refrigerate your bread. It will cause your bread to stale significantly faster. 

Below you’ll find my favorite methods on how to store bread, how to freeze bread, and how to refresh bread so that it tastes freshly baked.

how to

store your bread

Days 1 & 2:

  • For bread that has just been baked (or refreshed), leave it out, completely uncovered, at room temperature. The crust on freshly baked bread will remain at its best texture for at least one day.

  • If you slice into your bread,  it is best to leave it cut-side down on a cutting board uncovered, particularly if you enjoy a crisp crust. This will help protect the interior from drying out.

  • If you choose not to slice into the bread on the day of baking, transfer the loaf to a paper bag and fold over the edges. While the crust won’t be quite as crisp as the first day of baking,  the paper bag will allow air to circulate, yet also help it not dry out too quickly.

Days 3 & 4:

  • While the above method works really well for freshly baked bread, you’ll want to cover it a couple days after it has baked, otherwise it will dry out quickly and become stale/too hard to slice. 

  • Usually by day three, the best option is to store it in a large Ziploc bag. This isn’t a perfect solution, as it will inevitably cause the moisture from the loaf to be trapped, resulting in a softer textured crust. You can get around this by toasting your bread lightly. 

  • Alternatively, you can also wrap your bread in natural beeswrap , which is my favorite alternative, as it is naturally porous and won’t cause as much moisture to be trapped.  They sell a knock-off version at Trader Joe's that works well.

Day 5 +: 

  • If you do not plan on consuming your whole loaf of bread within the first few days of baking, I generally always advise storing it in the freezer.

how to

freeze your bread

When it comes to sourdough bread, your freezer is your friend!  I highly recommend freezing whole loaves, and enjoying them at a later date.  I almost always freeze a loaf when I’m baking. The frozen loaf out of the freezer can taste just as good as the freshly baked loaf! 

If stored properly, bread can be stored in the freezer for about three months.

HOW TO FREEZE WHOLE LOAVES OF BREAD:

To freeze an entire loaf of bread, allow the bread to cool completely, then wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap, followed by wrapping in aluminum foil.  This is my favorite method for short or long term bread storage. 

HOW TO FREEZE SLICED BREAD:

If you only eat a small amount of bread at a time, a great way to store it is to slice it before freezing.

To do this, slice your bread and transfer it to a large Ziploc bag. If the interior is extremely moist, I advise placing a small piece of parchment paper between each slice to ensure that the slices don’t stick together. 

This method allows you to take one slice out at a time and toast it in your toaster or favorite method of choice.

how to

refresh your bread

This is my favorite method for refreshing whole loaves of bread. It sounds a bit crazy, but this method will result in a very crisp crust that tastes and feels like you just baked it!

I promise - you'll be amazed!

HOW TO REFRESH WHOLE LOAVES OF BREAD: 

  • Allow your frozen loaf of bread to thaw (keep it in the plastic and foil) at room temperature for several hours or overnight on your countertop the night before. 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees for at least 20 minutes with a rack in the center position. 

  • Just before you are ready to put the loaf in the oven, remove the wrapping and lightly spritz it evenly with cold water.  If you don’t have a spray bottle, just quickly run it under cold water (I know, sounds crazy). You do not want to saturate your loaf, just lightly coat it with cold water on all sides. This light coating of water steams in the oven and results in a far crisper, fresher crust than placing a loaf in the oven dry.  NOTE:  Do not complete this step until your oven is completely preheated and you’re ready to place the loaf in the oven. 

  • Place the whole loaf of bread directly on the oven rack and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is crisp.

  • Remove and allow the loaf to cool completely on a cooling rack – at least an hour – before slicing. Store bread as directed above.  Generally, the refreshed whole loaves of bread will store just as well, perhaps drying out slightly faster, as freshly baked loaves. 

what to do

with leftover bread

  • Grilled cheese or panini -  Jalapeno Cheddar makes a great grilled cheese!

  • Crostini - slice your 4 - 5 day old bread into thin slices, put in a ziplock and throw in the freezer to be used at a later time.   Simply brush slices with olive oil and bake on a sheet pan at 350, turning often, until crisp.  Great with a cheese plate, tapenade or as bruschetta.

  • Croutons -  cut leftover bread into squares, put in a ziplock and keep in the freezer.  Pull out what you need and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.  Bake on a sheet pan at 350, tossing often, until crisp. 

  • Breadcrumbs - Bake slices as described for crostini.  When cool give them a whirl in the food processor.

  • French Toast - our favorite weekend breakfast!

  • Bread Pudding

resist the urge to

slice into warm bread

It is very important to allow bread to cool competely to room temperature before storing or slicing.  Place it on a cooling rack and resist the urge to slice into it.  Slicing fresh warm bread out of the oven, while extremely tempting, affects its texture and flavor - it will be gummier and less airy; and will result in a loaf that dries out much faster.