Care of your bread

I am often asked what is the best way to keep a loaf of my bread and how well it freezes……

The simple answer is just to keep it in the paper bag it comes in or wrap it in a tea towel or cloth bag. Once cut it can stay on the bread board (cut side down to prevent it drying out). Most loaves will stay fresh at room temperature for a good 3-4 days if properly kept. Some say longer, especially for wholegrain and rye loaves, but in my house it doesn’t often hang around for that long. If you do not feel that you can get through a loaf in that time, you can always freeze it.  More on freezing below.

Putting bread into a plastic bag runs the risk of encouraging mould growth. Enclosed in plastic, moisture from the loaf is trapped in the bag and creates the perfect environment for moulds to begin to grow.

I have been known to put bread in the fridge (and in a plastic bag) more often in the summer, though for bread purists this is very much a no-no. Putting bread into the fridge actually speeds up the staling process and studies have shown that bread stales fastest at temperatures just above freezing i.e. fridge temperature.

Sourdough breads freeze very well. I usually freeze them well wrapped in a sealed plastic bag. For bread to be at its best, freeze the whole loaf or part of the loaf on the day you get it and use well within a month. When you want to use it, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the bag overnight or for around 6-8 hours (a small loaf with thaw more quickly). The evening for the next day is ideal. Bread can then be eaten straight away or refreshed by spritzing with a little water and putting in a medium oven (170/180 degrees C) for 10-15 mins (less time for a small loaf). This revives the crust nicely. If you don’t eat very much bread, it may suit you better to  slice the loaf before freezing. You can then take out a slice or two as and when you need them. They will thaw quickly in the toaster.

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