Fresh homemade bread is one of life’s little pleasures but a sourdough loaf perfectly formed in a proofing basket can spoil in as few as 48 hours. A baked loaf is sometimes difficult to consume in this short window so we have tested the best way to store homemade bread for maintaining freshness.
There are many ways to store fresh sourdough bread and we will present you with a few options which we highly recommended. These storage methods are directed for how to store sourdough bread rather than shop-bought sliced loaves. Supermarket bread generally lasts longer as it contains additives and preservatives which extend the shelf-life. Whereas fresh sourdough loaves, such as those prepared in a banneton basket, contain natural ingredients and lose their crisp crust at a faster rate. Homemade bread typically is best between 2-4 days with the potential to stay fresh up to 5 days when at room temperature and stored correctly.
Allow The Sourdough Bread To Cool
The first step for bread storage is preparing the bread itself, common mistakes in baking include the temptation to slice into a warm loaf straight from the oven. Bread should be cooled to room temperature to finish the cooking process, slicing whilst warm can result in a doughy sticky texture with a caved crust. Overly eager slicing will also cause the loaf to become dry quickly, destroying the intricate shaping achieved when using banneton basket. A further danger is that if bread is wrapped warm then condensation will form within the storage container and speed up the development of mold.
Allowing homemade bread to cool completely is the first essential step for how to keep bread fresh and last as long as possible. To serve warm bread allow it to cool then simply refresh in a hot oven either as a whole loaf or in slices.
How To Keep Bread Fresh
Popular methods for storing sourdough bread include a paper bag, plastic bag or bread bin. On our search for how to keep sourdough bread fresh we tested each method with varying results and found that the optimum is bread which is tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature.
Store sourdough bread in plastic bag
Store bread without plastic wrapped loosely, instead ensure the plastic is tightly wrapped. Loose insulation will allow airflow and create a humid environment which will promote mold growth. Sealed wrapping will protect the loaf from air movement and prevent the crust from drying or becoming stale. A plastic bag may result in a slightly softer crust which you are hoping to maintain if this has been developed in a banneton basket. To crisp the loaf and return its crunchy exterior, quickly refresh in a hot oven before serving.
Store sourdough bread in paper bag
A paper bag provides some air flow to prevent the crust from becoming soft so is well suited to hard crusted breads such as sourdough prepared in a bread proofing basket. The paper reduces sunlight and seals in moisture which are ideal conditions for storage
Store sourdough bread in bread bin
A ceramic bread bin allows for minimal air circulation which keeps bread moist without becoming dry. The bread bin also keeps bread away from direct sunlight and maintains a cool temperature, protecting the crust which has been carefully shaped by a banneton basket.
Store Bread At Room Temperature
Bread should always be kept at room temperature unless intending to store for an extended period of time. After lovingly preparing beautifully formed bread in a banneton basket it may make sense to store bread in the refrigerator. The general rule is that fresh products are chilled to extend their shelf life, however this is not true for bread. Refrigerated bread will become stale faster as the low temperature and circulated air dries out the loaf and accelerates staling. For longer storage we have provided instructions below on how to best freeze and thaw homemade bread.
How To Freeze Bread
Frozen bread can be kept for up to 6 months and if stored properly will maintain a high level of freshness. Either store as a whole loaf or in slices, first wrap tightly in plastic wrap then wrap in a layer of aluminum foil or freezer paper. The plastic layer will act as protection from cold air while the foil insulates the bread to stop freezer burn.
To serve the bread after freezing, allow it to thaw wrapped at room temperature then place in an oven at high heat to develop a crust again. A loaf prepared in a bread proofing basket will ensure the defined shape is maintained. Slices of frozen bread can be toasted for immediate results otherwise refresh the loaf in the oven to bring back the fresh flavors and texture of the original loaf.