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All you bread makers out there: How do you store your homemade bread? I had been keeping mine in plastic grocery store bags. This is OK for about 2 days worth of storage. After that, I'd slice it & freeze it. Since there are only 2 in my family, a loaf usually lasts more than 2 days. Then I got a Reusable Bread Storage Bag from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000VLGIY because I had a gift certificate. Wildly overpriced! It's just a cotton bag with a plastic liner. Today is my first time trying it so I can't say how it works.
So how do you breadmakers store your bread?
I use Glad twist tie (gallon) baggies, sometimes one slipped over the other end if the loaf is too large for one bag. Usually about 1 week shelf life, (Tip: don't seal up while still warm), and try not to touch or handle the loaf when slicing it. Like Prickle we use honey (most of the recipes) but I don't see and difference with the recipes that use sugar. I guess we would get more time if we refrigerated it, but by the time it begins to mold, it's time to bake a fresh loaf in my opinion.
We sometimes make two smaller loaves (ciabatta style) and can handily freeze one for later use, if we are not going to be home and/or eat out that week several times.
I have SO many of my own conflicting opinions about storing bread I make... Bread once frozen never tastes the same, and I'm inclined to believe the same is true for refrigerated bread. Since I am a family of one and most of my bread recipes make 2 loaves, storage becomes a problem.
I have heard artisan bread bakers recommend storing their breads out in the open (no bag) with the cut side down. However after about 2 days in my very dry (winter) house, the crust gets so hard I can no longer eat it... so that doesn't work for me. What works sometimes is to refrigerate one loaf and have the other in a plastic bread bag on the counter. After I have eaten all I want from the first loaf, I cut up and freeze the remainder for recipes that call for bread cubes, like soups and bread puddings, and start on the second loaf.
What I should do is find a neighbor who likes good bread and sell one loaf when I bake bread. Unfortunately, my neighbors seem to prefer Wonder Bread. Bread baker's get $5 - $6 a loaf at the Farmer's Market and always sell out, but I cannot see myself staying up all night to make a huge batch of breads...
Darius, I'm like you, although I have 2 people in the household, the bread still gets stale before we can eat it all. I have been experimenting with taking a whole loaf, letting it cool, slicing the whole thing & freezing 2 slices in small zipper bags. Since we usually toast the bread, the frozen bread hasn't been a big problem, although I do notice a change in the texture.
As for trying to find someone to share bread with, try putting a note on craig's list. Maybe you can find someone who'd like to get the extra loaf.
Thanks. Closest Craig'sList area is 85 miles. Sigh. There'd be lots of Takers on the local Freecycle but they'd all want it FREE... All that List is around here is Moochers; no one has stuff to give away except baby clothes and 10 ads a day seeking free cars, RV's, etc.
Darius, then try a posting at the supermarket or wherever they let you put business cards, flyers, etc. Ask at your church, work, social group, everywhere. I did that with a lot of extra plants I had one year. Now I have a gardening buddy that I share a of plants with.
I like to store the bread in a bread box or bread crock with a tight fitting lid.
My mom always kept the bread that way. How long the bread will last is a factor of how the bread was made. Quick loaves that are mixed, raised and baked within four hours or so will go stale the fastest. Long ripening doughs (12 hours or more) will keep longer. My mom would store the bread cut side down in the box, wrapped in a tea towel.
Any bread that went hard became croutons, soup thickener or pudding.
When we sailed thru French Polynesia, we got wonderful bread...and all the bakers told us to keep it in paper or cloth bags. I really can't tell much difference between bread that stays out and bread from the refriderator...we always toast it just a smidge...plus, putting stuff on it or between it...still good.
A tablespoon full of oil in a five to six cup bread mix extends shelf life. I reduce white sugar to one third of what is called for and replace it with honey and/or maple syrup which I believe extends shelf life and flavor. Never the less we cut loves in half and freeze them vacume packed or doouble plastic wrapped to keep the shelf life short. We can eat a half loaf in three days. The last day may be toasted sandwiches. Our bread is all pre-ferment or sour dough types.
I've found the best results by storing bread in paper bags inside of plastic bags tightly tied. Grocery store plastic bags or the twist tie type of plastic food storage bags depending on the size of the bread. The paper helps keeps the crust crisp, while the plastic keeps the inside soft.
In cool weather I store it in a cool location. In summer it gets refrigerated. Good whole grain breads often end up as delicious French Toast.
My favorite French Toast for Artisan Bread is dipped in a mixture of Eggs, Buttermilk, Vanilla and Cinnamon. It's so delicious, doesn't even need butter or syrup.
With 3-4 of us at home (one is in college, home for summer & breaks), and with DH and I both home for most lunches as well as dinners, we tend to finish bread before it has a chance to go stale. I usually leave it out (cut side down) for the first day, and slip what's left into a plastic bag for the second day.
Darius-- If you have a good 2-loaf recipe that doesn't halve well, I'd suggest freezing the second loaf as dough, right after you shape it. I agree that frozen (and even refrigerated) bread doesn't taste as good as fresh-baked, but this is one way to have it all.
Carol-- When in French Polynesia, did you check out the mailbox-style bread boxes? I thought it was so cool that the bakeries had early-morning baguette delivery routes.
Sinner's Fix -sprinkle slightly dry bread with water, wrap in damp paper towels, and throw into microwave for a few seconds...say25-30 seconds for half a loaf, but no longer!! This lets you keep it in the bread box longer
I've frozen dough too, with a fair amount of success. Sometimes I would sprinkle a pinch of yeast on before working it just to get a good rise. This was back when I was baking bread bowls for soup...I'd separate dough into enough for 1 bowl and wrap and freeze.
I just stick my loaves, once they're cool, in a Glad bag, which I try to reuse as long as possible, and then refrigerate it. But I rarely have more than one loaf going because I use the Five Minute A Day Artisan Bread method, so I can make a loaf whenever I need it and it's fresh that way. We are a family of two, though, and I do need to use the refrigerator to store the rest of the loaf after we first use it. Since I've always kept bread there, even store-bought, any change in flavor or taste doesn't bother me.
Those King Arthur bread bags are heavy. They can be washed, air dried and reused several times. Works out to about a quarter of a cent per stored loaf. I doubt if you could use paper at that cost...if you like counting the beans. Yet most street side bakeries wrap in paper. Guess there must be a habit or quality reason. They would not do that just because it costs more.
When I was buying baguettes at the grocery store, some of them were wrapped in paper and they always got stale almost as soon as I got them home! Actually the bags were a mixture of paper and plastic with tiny holes in it. Of course, baguettes are meant to be bought daily, but we can't use up a whole one ourselves in one or two meals, so I would rebag them in a large plastic bag that I could reuse, and they'd last a whole lot longer - in the refrigerator.
I make a whole lot of homemade bread (the simple/easy kind) - not only for myself, but for others. Probably because they're too lazy to make it themselves, but I have to admit, it is very good, and better for anyone than 'store' bread.
Anyway; what i do when i'm sending a loaf out of this place is; let it cool on a rack - lay out a piece of aluminum foil, cover that with paper-towels, and wrap it up. most people keep it in that and tell me it lasts them for well over a week.
Around here i keep it in a plastic bag, but take it out at least once a day and 'air' it on a rack. Doing it that way will make it last for around two weeks. I never refrigerate bread because I have found it tends to go bad faster that way. If I intend to keep it for a very long time, i freeze it. but there's never really a reason to do that when it's so simple to make. Plus the fact that if you freeze it, you still have to wait a long time for it to thaw before you can eat it, so it's just as well to make it on a 'needed' basis.