Tips & Techniques from America’s Test Kitchen
Keeping Bakery Bread Fresh
What's the best way to keep bakery bread fresh?
We asked a local baker for suggestions on storing bakery bread, and he recommended a good old-fashioned bread box. “Lots of people don’t have those anymore,” we protested. “Then place the loaf, cut end down, on the counter,” he offered. “What—no bag? No plastic wrap?” “Nope, just the naked loaf.” Shaking our head in disbelief, we tested his recommendation. Would it keep the crust crisp and the interior soft? We also halved three other loaves, putting one in a paper bag and leaving it on the counter, putting the second in a plastic bag on the counter, and wrapping the third in a plastic bag and sticking it in the refrigerator.
Guess what? The baker was right. The loaf we kept uncovered, cut side down, on the counter had both the crispest crust and the softest interior. The loaf wrapped in paper also kept its crisp crust but was slightly drier. The loaf stored in plastic on the countertop turned squishy, while the refrigerated loaf hardened and dried out. But hey, if your bread starts to stale, don’t fret. Make toast or bread pudding!
THE BOTTOM LINE:
For up to 24 hours, unused portions of crusty bread can be stored cut side down on the countertop. Beyond a day, you’re better off storing it in the freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil and sealed in a freezer bag.
IT WORKS, REALLY!
Store bread you plan on eating soon cut side down on the counter.