There’s really nothing better than a fresh loaf of bread for sandwiches or to spread with butter and homemade jam to have with a cup of tea. Whether I’ve baked the bread myself, or picked up a loaf at the specialty bakery, I always have bread in my kitchen.
One of the problems I have with bread is how to keep it from molding. It doesn’t take much for just the right amount of moisture to build up so mold can start to grow. And when mold starts to develop, you’ll have to throw out the entire loaf of bread!
I’ve come up with a few techniques that guarantee your fresh loaves of bread won’t get moldy before you have a chance to enjoy each and every slice!
1. Store Bread in Your Freezer
One of the best ways to keep bread from molding is to keep it in the freezer (check out more detailed tips for freezing and defrosting). If your loaf of bread is unsliced, you’ll want to slice before freezing so you can pull out individual slices when you need them instead of the entire loaf.
Cut to the thickness that you prefer. Once sliced, wrap the entire loaf carefully in either plastic wrap or aluminium foil. Then place into a plastic bag and seal tightly – I use thicker freezer bags when I freeze my bread.
Wrapping well will keep the moisture in the bread so it doesn’t dry out and will also help prevent freezer burn.
My freezer method will keep your bread from molding and will also keep it fresh. When you need bread, but don’t want to take the entire loaf out of the freezer, slices will break apart easily. Just take what you need and carefully wrap up the remainder to leave in the freezer.
It will only take a few minutes for slices to unthaw so you can use them for sandwiches. Or take slices, or the entire loaf, out of the freezer the night before and leave on the counter. Bread will be fresh and ready for you in the morning.
If stored and wrapped correctly, you can keep bread in the freezer for up to three months.
2. Bread Boxes
Bread boxes aren’t just for looks (although some can definitely improve the look and feel of your kitchen). They’re also ideal for storing bread to keep it from molding. Just place the loaf directly into the box without putting into a paper or plastic bag first.
The inside of a bread box has just the right amount of air circulation to keep mold from being able to form and just enough humidity to keep bread soft and fresh.
It’s best not to put more than one loaf into the bread box. The more bread there is, the more humidity will start to build up in the box.
Bigger bread boxes are better than smaller ones as they allow for more air flow. Don’t get confused by all the different types of bread boxes you can now buy – bamboo, ceramic, and enamel.
All work well to keep bread fresh, so indulge and buy a bread box that matches your kitchen décor.
3. Cloth Bread Bags
If you don’t have a bread box, or don’t have room in your kitchen for one, consider purchasing a cloth bread bag. These bags keep your bread air-tight while still allowing just enough air flow, so the bread breathes.
Don’t have a cloth bread bag? Wrapping bread up in a large clean tea towel will get you the same results as a bag you purchased. I’ve found that using a cloth bag works well for white French bread, keeping it fresh for two days.
4. Brown Paper Bag
A simple brown paper bag will keep bread from molding. Many bakeries sell their bread in brown paper for this very reason.
This method works really well for hard-crusted, rustic breads and will keep bread fresh for up to two days. Just keep the bag tightly closed and store out of direct sunlight.
5. Store in Kitchen Cabinet
A kitchen cabinet will also work well to store bread and keep mold from growing. Place the loaf of bread into a paper bag or an open plastic bag.
There will be just enough air circulation in the cabinet to prevent mold from developing yet not enough air that bread will dry out too quickly.
If you’re going to use this method, choose a cabinet that’s not over the fridge, where heat and humidity may build up.
6. Kitchen Drawer
If you have a deep enough kitchen drawer, consider storing bread there. I’ve found this is a great place to keep a rustic artisan bread fresh for up to two days.
I just wrap it in a clean tea towel with the sliced end of the bread facing down.
7. Avoid Storing in Plastic
Mold needs just the right conditions to grow and storing your bread in a sealed plastic bag is going to provide those conditions – moisture and warmth.
If you absolutely need to keep bread in a plastic bag, keep the bag open and place on your countertop out of the sun. Keeping the bag open will allow some air circulation in the bag, so mold won’t develop.
8. Keep Bread Out of the Fridge!
Not matter what anyone else tells you, your fridge is not the place to store bread. In fact, putting bread in the fridge is a good guarantee that you’re going to have stale bread in as little as one day.
While you may be preventing the growth of mold, you’re just reducing the shelf life of the bread. As the starch in the bread starts to crystalize, the moisture moves from the middle of the loaf to the outer crust.
Refrigerated bread quickly becomes hard and dry…and tasteless!
9. The Type of Bread Matters
Some breads will get moldy more quickly than others. The top culprit for mold and staleness is French and white loaves of bread. You’ll need to store both well away from direct air flow to keep them fresh for longer than a day.
Darker breads, such as rye, sourdough, whole wheat, and whole grain, take longer to grow mold, but should still be stored using one of my methods mentioned here.
10. Avoid Pre-Sliced
When buying bread, it’s best to buy it whole and not pre-sliced. Cut off what you need each time you’re making a sandwich or toast.
Pre-sliced bread is more exposed to air and will get moldy much quicker than unsliced bread. And with unsliced loaves, you get to determine how thick you want your slices!
11. Slice Bread From the Middle
Another way to keep unsliced loaves of bread fresh and mold free is to cut into the middle rather than from the end. Just keep pushing the bread together again before you store it.
The end crusts will keep the loaf fresher with just enough moisture to keep it soft without getting moldy.
12. Reviving Stale Bread
Keeping bread from molding doesn’t mean it won’t get stale. There’s no need to throw out those last few slices of bread just because they’re stale.
There’s a trick to reviving stale bread so you can use it – just pop it into a warm oven for a few minutes. Place the entire loaf, or a few slices, onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
Heating for about 3 to 5 minutes will help to soften bread so it’s almost as fresh as new.
Check out some other uses for your old bread in my article about uses for leftover bread!
13. Toast Bread!
One of the best and tastiest ways to eat bread that’s starting to get stale and you’re afraid will mold very soon, is to toast it! Bread that is toasted and spread with butter is good morning, noon, and night.
Those are my methods to keep bread from molding. Home baked and purchased loaves of bread will stay fresh and mold free so you can enjoy the entire loaf without having to throw it out after just a day or two.
Of course, if your home is anything like mine, fresh bread doesn’t last longer than a day or two anyway!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.