After you’ve spent all that time making, baking, and cooling a loaf of bread, you want to be able to enjoy the leftovers.
But be wary: You shouldn’t store homemade bread the same way you’d store bread from the grocery store.
Homemade bread stales quickly without the aid of the preservatives used in many commercial breads. However, a cut loaf can still last a day or two on the counter before you have to consider longer term storage.
If you’ve ever returned to your labor of love a few days later only to encounter a dried-out, stale loaf, you know the crushing disappointment. Sure, there are ways to revive stale bread, but ideally you’d avoid this situation in the first place.
Here’s how to keep different types of homemade bread fresh for as long as possible.
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Don’t Store Bread in the Refrigerator
Yes, you read that right. The cold fridge actually speeds up retrogradation, a process where the starch molecules in the bread crystalize as they are exposed to air. In the fridge, those plush chewy loaves will turn hard and crumbly. Avoid stale bread and keep it out of the fridge.
How to Store Sandwich Bread
Without a thick, crunchy crust, you don’t have to worry about sandwich bread exteriors softening if you wrap them. Wrap loaves in a double layer of plastic wrap and store them at room temperature for up to three days.
- To freeze: Wrap first in aluminum foil before the plastic, and freeze for up to one month. If you don’t plan to use the whole loaf at once, slice it and freeze the slices in a zipper-lock bag.
- To reheat: Thaw individual slices whenever you want! This is easily done on the counter, but using the microwave will result in a fresher taste. Place the slices on a plate (uncovered) and microwave them on high power for 15 to 25 seconds.
How to Store Rustic Bread
Loaves of rustic bread, roughly shaped and not baked in a loaf pan, develop a full crust. Storing rustic loaves cut side down on a cutting board works better than wrapping them in paper or plastic. The crust stays dry, while contact with the board keeps moisture inside the crumb. This will keep the loaf fresh at room temperature for up to one day.
- To freeze: Wrap slices tightly in aluminum foil, place them in a zipper-lock bag, and freeze them. Wrap, bag, and freeze unsliced full loaves or half-loaves.
- To reheat: Heat bread, still wrapped in foil, in a 450-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes and then crisp it by removing the foil and returning it to the oven for a minute or two.
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How to Store Rolls
Rolls and buns like these delicately sweetened St. Lucia Buns are often enriched with butter and/or sugar, which means they’ll last a bit longer than other types of bread. Store them in a zipper-lock bag for up to two days at room temperature.
- To freeze: Wrap rolls in foil before placing them in a zipper-lock bag for up to one month.
- To reheat: Wrap them (thawed if frozen) in aluminum foil, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake them in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.