Never leave a loaf behind.

By Betty Gold
January 31, 2020

Allow me to set the scene. You just brought home a delicious loaf of still-warm bread from your favorite bakery—in my overactive imagination, you probably pedaled it home in a bicycle basket alongside a small dog and wheel of brie—and instantly cut yourself off a slice, because who can resist fresh carbs. There’s still 90 percent of the loaf left, and you want to keep it kickin’ as absolutely long as possible. What do you do next?  

If your answer was, “I shove it back in the bag and right into the fridge,” you’re not alone. Don’t get me wrong—we’re all guilty of it. Many of us keep apples, tomatoes, avocados, nuts, and more in the fridge to extend their shelf-life. It’s effective!

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But according to Jonathan Davis, SVP of Innovation at La Brea Bakery, storing a loaf of fresh bread in the fridge is the ultimate offense. “When storing bread, the number one thing you should not do is put in in the refrigerator,” he says. “This is because the temperature and environment of a refrigerator can actually expedite the staling process and will not keep it fresh.”

The best way to keep your bread as fresh as possible is to store it at room temperature in a part of the room or kitchen that isn’t too hot or dry, Davis says. If you’ll be leaving it on the counter, it’s best to keep it out of places that attract sunlight, such as right next to the window. “Bread should also be consumed within the first two to three days of purchase,” Davis adds. “After three days, the bread’s texture and freshness will begin to decline.”

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If you don’t manage to finish your loaf of bread within the first three days, wrap it up well and store it in the freezer instead of the fridge. Whenever you’re ready to polish it off, simply pop it in the oven to reheat it before serving.

And if your loaf has started to wane in the fresh-and-fluffy department, don’t sweat it. “There are different levels of ‘stale’ when it comes to bread, and with each level, comes an opportunity for different recipes,” Davis explains. For instance, two-day-old bread is great for recipes that call for bread that’s firmer and crusty on the outside and less soft on the inside, like bread pudding or panzanella. By day three, bread will be hard to the touch and the outer crust will be crispy, which makes it perfect for croutons and homemade breadcrumbs that can be incorporated into salads, soups, and baked dishes.

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