Fresh, homemade bread right out of the oven is impossible to beat. But with a few tips and tricks, you can learn how to keep bread fresh for longer so you can savor it days or even months after baking it. Learn various methods for storing it in both the long and short term, as well as what to do with leftover or stale bread, so not even a crumb goes to waste.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE BREAD FOR ULTIMATE FRESHNESS
Immediately after baking, you can simply remove bread from its pan and place it on a middle oven rack. Then crack the oven door so excess moisture can escape and your crust remains crisp. Once sliced, just store bread on the countertop, slice-side down as long as you’ll finish the loaf before the day is over. Here are some other ways to store bread after day one:
Use a bread box: You can keep your fresh loaf in a bread box for a few days. With its dark and dry interior, a bread box helps maintain a decent balance of moisture to keep the inside of the bread soft and its exterior crusty. Make sure there is plenty of room inside for good air circulation.
Store in a paper sack: Like a bread box, a paper sack will allow for a bit of airflow to prevent moisture from collecting on the surface of your bread, keeping the exterior dry.
- Freeze fresh bread: For ultimate freshness, freezing bread may be the best method. If you don’t plan to eat your bread right away, this is the best way to preserve flavors and textures and may be worth it even if you'll eat it the very next day.
If your bread has a higher fat content, or less surface area (think thick challah bread vs. long and thin baguettes), it may retain freshness longer. Breads with little added fat should be eaten the same day they’re baked, or frozen right away to enjoy later. A bread like olive oil-rich focaccia or something with lots of eggs, milk and butter like homemade brioche can be kept on the counter for a few days. Adjust your storage methods according to your type of bread.
HOW TO FREEZE BREAD
Place fresh bread in a freezer-bag, removing as much air as possible, and seal it shut. Then, simply place the bread in your freezer until you’re ready to use it. It’s a good idea to label the bag with the date as well to keep track of its age. Bread will keep in the freezer for two to three months, depending on the type.
Freezing fresh bread will help slow the deterioration and moisture loss immediately. And, you can quickly revive frozen bread in the oven or toaster to help bring back that chewy interior with a crispy crust you love. It’s important to note that bread in the freezer will slowly lose its moisture, so for the best taste and texture, eat it within the three month window.
If you plan to toast your bread when you unfreeze it, or only use portions of it, slice it up before putting it in the freezer so you can pull out only what you need. Select KitchenAid® toasters feature a defrost setting to gently thaw and then toast your frozen bread. Make sure to put the bread on a shelf where it won’t be compressed or crushed and in view so you don’t forget it at the back of the freezer.
Of course, the best way to enjoy bread is fresh. There are many ways to incorporate fresh bread into your day to avoid having leftovers: toasted for breakfast, fresh ingredients nestled between two chewy slices for lunch, and slathered in garlic herb butter at dinner, to name a few.
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN STORING HOMEMADE BREAD
One of the most important things to keep in mind when storing bread is that moisture is the enemy of crispy bread crusts. Avoid these moisture-rich storage methods to keep your bread fresh and soft on the inside with a satisfying crunch on the outside.
Don’t wrap in plastic: Plastic wrap or other airtight containers can trap moisture inside (unless it’s going right into the freezer). While this may help prevent staleness, it can also rapidly lead to a soggy crust from moisture settling on the surface. If you plan to toast your bread, this is less of a concern since it will crisp up again once heated.
Avoid moist environments: Don’t keep bread in a high humidity crisper drawer in the refrigerator or on the counter if you live in a humid environment. If you happen to be simmering soup or cooking up something else steamy in the kitchen, consider moving your loaf to another room. Moisture can make the crust soggy and also encourage mold to grow.
Avoid warm environments: Keep bread away from major appliances in your kitchen that may be putting out a bit of warmth while running. This includes your refrigerator and dishwasher along with your oven. If not freezing your bread, keep it on the counter or in a large cupboard or drawer with good airflow.
Don’t refrigerate: In fact, don’t place homemade bread in the refrigerator at all. The cool air can cause moisture to condense on the surface of the bread while also drying it out inside.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER BREAD
Even if your bread goes stale despite your best efforts, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy it. From bread crumbs to croutons and even desserts, leftover bread can be transformed into the star of its own dish. Try some of these ideas for stale bread and you may even find yourself looking forward to day (or two) old bread.
To make breadcrumbs from leftover bread, you can tear it into chunks and pulse in a KitchenAid® food processor to get the desired size. Then spread the breadcrumbs across a baking sheet and put in the oven at 300℉ for about 15 minutes to finish drying. You can also use a KitchenAid® Food Grinder attachment with your stand mixer to turn leftover bread into breadcrumbs. In this case, finish drying out stale bread in the oven first, then feed it through the grinder along with any dried herbs, hard cheese or other flavorings. Homemade breadcrumbs are the perfect addition to Asian meatballs with a spicy peanut sauce or sprinkled over top stuffed bell peppers alongside parmesan cheese.
Turn leftover French bread, sourdough, rye or other crusty bread into delicious croutons flavored just the way you like to top salads and soups. Tear or cut bread into 1-inch cubes and toss with a flavorful oil such as olive oil along with spices and seasonings, herbs, or even grated cheeses. Spread your mixture out on a baking sheet and bake at around 400℉ for 15 minutes or until the bread becomes crunchy.
FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLES & MORE
Leftover bread works well for sweet and savory casseroles and bread puddings because it soaks up every delicious drop of sauce, marinade or juices you add to it. Try an overnight cinnamon French toast bake assembled the night before that simply slides into the oven the next morning. Add your own unique flavors to a classic bread pudding or tear up old bread for sage and sausage stuffing.
Toasting leftover bread can bring back some of its chewy interior while helping to crisp up the crust. Slice leftover bread, toast or broil in the oven and then smother in your favorite spread or soft cheese with fruit slices or fresh herbs to enjoy as an appetizer. You can also add crostini to soups like roasted tomato for added texture.
THE KEY TO CRISPY BREAD THAT’S SOFT & CHEWY
Crispy or crusty bread gets its signature crust with a soft interior from a combination of simple ingredients and steam in the oven. There are a number of methods you can use to create steam in the oven while baking bread including using a dutch oven, spraying the inside of the oven with water, or using a water bath.
For a seamless experience creating crispy bread at home, the new KitchenAid® Bread Bowl* pairs with select stand mixers so you can mix, kead, proof and bake all in one bowl. It features a lid that traps steam when baking to create an environment similar to a traditional steam oven. The ceramic bowl design retains and delivers even heat throughout the baking process, giving your bread a crispy crust and thorough bake. Create craft-quality bread at home from traditional white, chocolate rye, brioche and more.
Learn more about the art of making crispy bread with our tips and tricks.
*Fits all KitchenAid® 4.5 and 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixers (sold separately)
MORE BREAD BAKING TIPS & TRICKS
How to Make Homemade Bread with a Stand Mixer Learn how to make homemade bread with a stand mixer. Get tips on techniques and tools to streamline your bread making including the KitchenAid® Bread Bowl Accessory.
Baking Techniques: Mix, Fold, Whisk & Cream Learn the important differences between certain baking techniques like mix, fold, whisk and cream and how to properly use these methods in baking.
Leavening Agents to Use for Baking Learn about different types of leavening or raising agents–physical, chemical or biological leaveners–and how to use natural or mechanical leavening in baking.