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  • Writer's pictureRayki Goh, MSc

How to Stop Bread from Going Stale?

Unlike some foods that expire based on the date stamped on the bag, bread does not have a set expiration date. It's more about it getting harder and less tasty over time, but unless it's mouldy, it's still safe to eat.

Refreshing stale bread loaf

Dear Food People,


Let's break down the whole bread situation in a way that's easy to digest. Everyone's been there, right? You buy a loaf of bread, and before you know it, it's as hard as a rock. Not exactly what you signed up for. But here's the deal: bread going stale isn't about it expiring like the date on the package might suggest. Unless it's growing a mini-ecosystem of mould, it's usually just getting harder and less tasty, which is a total bummer but not a health hazard.


This week, I'm going to share some cool tricks to keep your bread feeling and tasting fresh for longer. But before we dive into those life-saving tips, let's quickly understand why bread even gets stale. Remember when we discussed lasagna and talked about starch in pasta? Well, bread also has starch, and it undergoes some interesting changes when baked.


When you bake bread, the water mixes with starch, and at around 80°C, this mix starts to absorb water and swell up. This is called 'gelatinization'. As bread cools after baking, it loses water through a process called 'Syneresis', leading over time to 'Retrogradation', which makes the bread go stale.


Now, onto the tips to keep your bread fresh! Have you ever noticed the food additives listed on bread packaging at the grocery store? Some of them are there to keep bread from getting stale too quickly. But let's be real: there's a bit of a debate on whether this is to keep your bread fresh longer or to make you buy more bread.


Let's talk about some DIY methods to keep your bread from going stale:

  • Refrigerating: Wrapping your bread in a slightly damp paper towel before putting it in the fridge can help. This trick helps keep the moisture in. But be careful with room-temperature storage since too much moisture can lead to mould.

  • Freezing: This is a great way to preserve your bread. Freeze slices and simply remove what you need, letting them thaw on the counter. A pro tip: wrap it tightly to prevent freezer burn.

  • Steaming: If your bread's already gone stale, steaming it can bring back some of its softness, but it's a temporary fix.

  • Microwaving: Wrapping your bread in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for a bit can also help revive it. Just don't overdo it, or you'll end up with a rock-hard loaf.


Food additives like maltogenic α-amylase and monoglycerides attempt to thwart the process in commercial bread, yet the battle between longevity and consumer habits rages on.


For those eager to extend their bread's lifespan at home, we've uncovered some handy tricks on bread revitalization: refrigeration to reduce moisture loss, strategic freezing to combat moisture loss and enzymatic activity, and steaming or microwaving for temporary rejuvenation. These methods offer a lifeline to your beloved bread, ensuring its palatability and reducing unnecessary waste in the process.


Whether you're a baker extraordinaire or a supermarket bread aficionado, these techniques provide valuable tools for savouring your bread beyond the inevitable march of time.


And hey, if you've got any thoughts or ideas on how we can tackle environmental or food sustainability issues, or if there's something specific you want us to cover in our future articles, shoot us a message over at dearfoodpeople.com. We'd love to hear from you!


 

Further Reading:

  1. Wholesome Cook - eBooks. (2018, October 10). How to Stop Bread From Going Stale and Mouldy. Retrieved from https://milled.com/wholesome-cook-ebooks/new-post-our-kmartcubbyhousehack-mia-turns-2-HTpmRoM9Okl4flKs

  2. Wikipedia. (2007). Staling. Retrieved September 6, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staling

  3. McGee, H. (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (2nd ed.). New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-80001-2

  4. CNET. You're baking bread now. Here's how to keep it from going stale

  5. The New York Times. How Do I Keep Homemade Bread From Going Stale?

  6. Seasoned Advice. Is there anything I can add to homemade bread to preserve it?


 

The information provided in our articles is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The content on our website, including articles, is not meant to endorse or promote any specific medical treatments, products, or procedures. The information provided is based on general knowledge and research at the time of writing. Medical practices and knowledge are constantly evolving, and what may have been accurate at the time of publication may not be current or applicable today.

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