Daily bread is daily for a good reason. Freshly baked bread isn't going to stay fresh without preservatives to prolong shelf life. Home-baked and artisanal breads are at their best for only a day or two, the way it was before sliced bread was the best thing!
Whether you are enjoying making your own bread at home, or picking up a freshly baked baguette from the neighbourhood baker for the evening meal, the basics are the same.
Bread should always be stored at room temperature, covered by something that will allow a little air to circulate so it doesn't grow mould, or become hard and chewy. At the same time your bread needs to be protected enough to retain some hydration to not dry out prematurely.
If on the third day you have a beautiful, crispy, dry chunk of bread, perfect to be put in the blender for breadcrumbs, then you have bought well (without preservatives) and stored perfectly.
Here are some storage solutions to consider:
The Bread Box - Remember those? They were originally designed to store freshly baked bread without any covering, not today’s collection of mouldy heels in plastic bags! A bread box allows for the flow of air around the bread and retains some humidity in the closed area of the box.
Paper bag (not breathable) - If left open or loosely closed air can get in. Add to that, they are likely to tear; this is a good short-term option for getting a warm fresh loaf from the bakery to home.
Naked - How they are stored at the bakery. Bread that is still warm from the oven should be left uncovered for about 4 hours. Depending on the humidity of your environment and the self-discipline of your housemates, a fresh uncut loaf can remain standing on the counter all day. If keeping it out of sight is necessary, try a cupboard or a drawer that remains at room temperature. Not on top of the refrigerator or beside the stove.
Fabric bags - A great alternative if you don't have space for a bread box, and perfect for shopping at the bakery. Fabric is breathable, allowing a little air circulation but still covers enough to retain some moisture in the post baked dough.
Freezing - This is a great way to enjoy freshly baked bread later. Freeze immediately after it has cooled. Depending on the type of bread, slicing it and sealing it in a store-bought sliced sandwich loaf bag can be convenient.
Tip - I froze a fresh baked baguette, in a paper bag, inside our baguette bag. Several weeks later I removed the baguette bag and paper bag and left it on the counter for an hour to defrost. It was perfect!
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