Bread’s a staple food in most households, but it has one drawback: it doesn’t last well. If you’ve experienced the disappointment of pulling out a slice and discovering it has gone off, you’re probably wondering how to stop your bread from going moldy.
To keep bread from molding proper storage can increase the shelf-life of your bread. Keeping it cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight will make a big difference in how well it lasts. The bread needs to be wrapped up to keep it from drying out. You may want to freeze it if you want to keep it for more than about 5 days.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the best methods for storing bread to prevent it from turning moldy. We’ll also look at storage solutions you should avoid, and cover some FAQs about moldy bread.
What Causes Mold On Bread?
Mold forms on bread when mold spores settle on the loaf and the right conditions are met for the mold to grow. Mold cannot form on bread that is kept in the wrong conditions, but if the environment is right, the spores will quickly multiply and spread through the whole loaf.
Mold spores are everywhere in the air. They become dangerous when they multiply on the loaf of bread and reach a certain level. Mold multiplies far more quickly in certain conditions, and on the whole, mold needs:
- Slight acidity
Moisture is the most important condition, and bread contains quite a lot of moisture. You therefore need to store your bread in a way that will stop it from being too humid, as this will make it much harder for the mold to start forming.
Where Can I Store My Bread To Prevent Mold?
There is a lot of controversy surrounding where to store bread, and it can depend on what kind of bread you are storing to some extent. People hotly debate the best place to put a loaf – but what are your options and which are the best?
You can store bread in:
- The freezer
- A brown paper bag
- A linen bag
- A bread box
Let’s look at these more carefully to find out which should be the best option!
1. The Freezer
If you’re storing bread for a long time, the freezer will always be the best option. It can work in the short term too, and many people put a loaf or half a loaf in the freezer. If you’ve got ready-sliced bread, you can simply remove a couple of slices and leave the rest in. This makes sure your bread does not turn moldy.
If you make sure your bread is well-wrapped, it will last for months in the freezer. The only drawback is that being frozen can make it a little drier than fresh bread. However, if you’re going to toast it, you’ll hardly notice this, and even for sandwiches, it’s usually fine.
Simply put the bread on the counter to defrost it, or toast it if you’re eating toast.
Be aware that if you don’t wrap the bread properly before freezing it, you may see some freezer burn on the loaf, and this will change its texture. You might also see this occurring if you store the bread for too long.
2. A Brown Paper Bag
Paper bags can be ideal for storing your bread, and many loaves are sold in paper bags. This is because paper permits air circulation, which ensures that bread remains crusty and delicious for as long as possible. A good crust will help to trap moisture in the rest of the bread, and make it taste better.
The drawback of paper bags, however, is that because they allow lots of airflow, they will quickly cause the bread to harden and turn stale. Loaves will often only last a couple of days in a paper bag, so this storage method is only useful if you will use the bread up quickly.
3. A Linen Bag
Linen bags can also be ideal for bread storage because they are breathable. They will pull moisture away from the bread to prevent molding and excess humidity, and they are often better at preventing staleness too. Many people use linen bread bags.
You will still only get a few days out of a loaf stored in linen, but this tends to be one of the best ways to keep your bread fresh.
4. Bread Box
A bread box is good for providing a balance of humidity and dryness – but some are poorly ventilated, which can promote mold growth. They are dark and cool and will usually work well in environments that are reasonably dry, but they can make your bread too wet in some environments.
If you are already having mold issues, a bread box may not be the best solution because it will hold some humidity in the bread. If your loaf is drying out, however, a bread box could be the perfect solution.
Try to keep a small amount of bread in the box, as this generally lets it vent better and reduces the risk of your bread becoming moldy.
How To Keep Bread Fresh
To keep your bread fresh, store it in a bread box or on a kitchen counter at room temperature. If you’re not using the bread within a few days, freeze it by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and placing it in a resealable plastic bag. Alternatively, store the bread in the refrigerator, but be aware that it may dry out more quickly. To extend the shelf life of stale bread, consider making bread crumbs or croutons by tearing or cutting the bread into small pieces and baking in a low oven until dry and crisp.
What’s The Best Place To Keep Bread?
With all that in mind, you might be wondering which of these is the best storage option. It depends a little on your habits and your environment. If your home is warm and damp, a paper bag is likely to be a good option. If your home is dry and cool, a bread box may be better.
Look at how your current loaves of bread behave. Do they turn moldy before they turn dry? If so, you want to put them somewhere drier. However, if you are having problems with staleness, try to increase the humidity around the loaf.
Many people feel that a freezer is the best place to store bread. It will have a slightly detrimental effect on the texture of the loaf, but it will keep the loaf edible almost indefinitely. However, if you’ll use your bread up quickly, keeping it in a bread box or a linen bag may prove preferable.
Is The Fridge A Good Place For Bread?
On the whole, the fridge will not keep bread very fresh, and it could even cause it to mold more quickly. If you put the bread in the fridge unwrapped, it will turn stale in a day or two, but if you wrap it, it’s likely to get too wet.
This will ruin its texture and could encourage mold growth, even in the coldness of the fridge. Some people do still prefer to keep their bread in the fridge because they feel it extends the shelf-life of the bread, but on the whole, most people think it keeps better on the counter.
If you are going to put your bread in the fridge, make sure you wrap it well to stop it from getting dry or damp, and try to use it up within a few days.
Where Not To Store Your Bread
There are a few places where you should avoid storing your bread. Let’s check these out so you can minimize the risk of your loaf molding or turning stale. Don’t put your bread:
- In an airtight container
- Open on the counter
- Anywhere with insects
- Somewhere with temperature fluctuations
- Somewhere damp
1. In An Airtight Container
If you put your bread in an airtight container, it’s likely to turn moldy quickly.
That might seem surprising, since it’s hard for mold spores to get at your bread – but the airtight container will trap moisture around the loaf and make it very easy for mold to grow if it gets in there. There are lots of mold spores in the air, so your bread is likely to get contaminated.
Avoid all airtight containers; your bread needs airflow to stay fresh.
2. Open On The Counter
Some people just leave loaves of bread open on the counter, but this isn’t a good idea. The bread will quickly become stale if there’s nothing to prevent it from losing moisture to the air. It won’t go moldy, but it won’t remain edible either – so make sure you avoid this!
3. Anywhere With Insects
You probably wouldn’t think of leaving your loaf exposed to things like spiders, but there are other bugs you need to think about too – like ants. You might not think you have ants in your home, until you leave your bread out and find a whole army marching toward it.
If there is any chance of ants or other bugs getting to your bread, you’ll need to move it or wrap it. Some people do opt for an airtight container with the lid cracked if they’re dealing with pests, even though this isn’t ideal for preventing mold growth.
4. Somewhere With Temperature Fluctuations
Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation. If your bread gets heated and cooled frequently, there’s a risk that it will start to get soggy or wet. You should therefore keep bread away from your oven, AC units, radiators, etc., to prevent it from becoming too wet.
5. Somewhere Damp
As we’ve discussed, moisture causes mold, so you want to make sure your bread is not kept too close to your sink, kettle, boiling pots of water, etc. The bread will soak up water vapor or any splashes, so put it somewhere away from sources of water.
Do Different Kinds Of Bread Go Off At Different Speeds?
You are probably already aware that the type of bread you buy makes a big difference in how quickly it goes off. A French loaf, for example, doesn’t tend to turn moldy, but it goes stale very quickly. This is true of most lean loaves (those that are made using flour, water, yeast, and salt, with little fat).
Baguettes, sourdoughs, etc., all turn stale fast and rarely get time to turn moldy. This is not the case with breads that have fats and preservatives in them.
If you’re eating enriched bread (anything with sugar, butter, etc.), it will last longer, but this means it’s more likely to turn moldy because the spores have more time to develop.
Can you cut mold off bread?
If any part of your loaf has gone moldy, you will need to throw it all away. This is frustrating, but the spores will have spread throughout the loaf and none of it will be safe to eat.
Can you eat stale bread?
Stale bread is generally safe to eat, but it may not be very pleasant. Try toasting it lightly and adding spreads to replenish the moisture.
You can keep bread from molding by storing it in the right conditions, but be aware that it may turn stale instead. Test different storage methods to find which works best in your kitchen, or freeze your bread to maximize its shelf-life.