Get the most from your loaf with these dough-saving tips.

For many people, the phrase "bread is life" rings very true. However, to love fresh bread, one must also accept its very short shelf life. It's a bummer to pull out a recently-purchased loaf, only to find that it's already tooth shatteringly stale or riddled throughout with mold.

The shelf life of truly fresh (read: preservative-free) bread tends to be a fleeting two to three days. But that doesn't mean you need to carb-load in order to appreciate that crusty sourdough boule or spindly French baguette.

Once you've got a handle on proper storage, you can get a lot more bang for your buck — and your bread. To help, we're sharing the best way to store bread and a few tips on how to keep bread fresh longer. 

How to Keep Bread Fresh Longer

a loaf of whole-wheat bread is seen from overhead, sliced with a few pieces falling
Credit: Meredith

Store it in paper, not plastic

If you're storing bread on the counter, the easiest way to keep bread fresh is to leave it in the paper wrapping it came in. Then if needed, cover with another paper bag to wrap the cut or exposed end. 

Whatever you do, resist the urge to coffin it in plastic. It may seem like a smart move, but the truth is, it prevents the bread from breathing and traps in moisture, encouraging mold spores to propagate faster. Also, be sure not to set it near heat-releasing appliances, like ovens or dishwashers.

Use a bread box

Bread boxes are another good bet (as the name would suggest) for housing bread. Not only can they be an attractive bit of additional kitchen décor, but they effectively let out air, all while keeping your bread safely closeted from pests.

Prep Solutions by Progressive GBK-8 Expandable Bread Keeper, Adjustable Air Vented Bread Storage Container
Credit: Overstock

Avoid the fridge

If you don't feel comfortable keeping your bread out, think twice before stashing it in your refrigerator. The heat the fridge gives off causes bread to dry out, while the moisture retained activates mold.

The Best Way to Store Bread

The best thing you can do to truly prolong the life of your bread is to keep it in the freezer. Slicing it first (or cutting it into big chunks) allows you to remove portions as necessary so you don't run into the same problem of handling a whole loaf of bread.

In this case, you can store your bread in plastic. Use either freezer bags or sheets of plastic wrap to keep away ice crystals, prevent freezer burn, and get a tight seal. Remove the plastic when defrosting, so the moisture doesn't leach onto your bread, or stick it directly in an oven or toaster, for warm, fragrant bread that looks and tastes as good as new.

How to Use Leftover Bread

French toast casserole on a plate and in the pan.
Credit: Allrecipes Magazine

Looking for ways to make use of leftover bread? There are plenty of ways to give that bread new life. 

  • Tear off crusty chunks for this Easy French Toast Casserole, coated with a creamy custard spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar. 
  • Toss it in the food processor for a batch of all-purpose Toasted Breadcrumbs
  • Slick cubes of bread with tapenade for Olive Croutons, which are as enjoyable when eaten solo as they are atop soups and salads. 
  • Make this rustic Italian Panzanella, moistened with chopped tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, and onions.