Have you bought an extra loaf of your favorite bread? If you haven’t finished it in a few days, you’re probably wondering: how long does bread last before it goes bad?
Unfortunately, bread has a short shelf life because it is vulnerable to mold growth. And even if it’s still safe to eat, it may already be rancid.
|The reason bread goes stale is that the starches in the product begin to break down. That’s why it’s so important to wrap bread before storing it.|
If you want to know more about the storage, shelf life and signs that bread is badkeep reading.
How to store bread
When it comes to storing bread, you can choose between three options. Each one has its pros and cons.
Store bread at room temperature
Storing bread in the pantry or on the kitchen counter is the default. As long as it is unopened in its original packaging, you do not need additional layers of protection.
Once the package is opened, be sure to keep it tightly closed at all times.
|If sealing with the original bag is not an option, transfer the bread to a bread bin or plastic bag for storage. You must protect the bread from moisture and air because they increase the risk of mold appearing.|
For unwrapped freshly baked bread, you can use a brown bag to store the bread in the pantry. Just place the bread in a brown bag, fold over the top of the bag, and secure it with clips to seal it.
Store bread in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight, to prolong its shelf life.
Store the bread in the fridge
Storing the bread in the fridge is the second option. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet that says you shouldn’t keep bread in the fridge.
The main argument is that the cold temperature dries out the bread and makes it go stale more quickly. That is true as long as the bread is not tightly closed.
If it is properly isolated from the environment in the fridge, for example in a freezer bag or in the original plastic container (if left untouched), it stays moist. The same goes for focaccia bread and other similar baked goods.
You can store the bread in the fridge to keep it fresh for a few more days.
Last but not least, let’s talk about freezing bread.
Can the bread be frozen?
You’ll be surprised to learn that bread keeps well in the freezer (same as banana bread or bagels).
You can freeze it as a last ditch effort to save loaves of bread that are about to go bad. Or you can freeze part of it if you already know you won’t eat the whole loaf before it goes bad. My wife usually buys one more loaf to freeze and have some extra bread in case we run out.
When it comes to freezing bread, the first thing to do is make sure it’s sliced. You don’t want to slice frozen bread. Plus, since it’s pre-cut, you can quickly grab a couple of slices and leave the rest in the freezer.
Defrosting the slices doesn’t take long, so that’s another reason to freeze just pre-sliced bread.
Now let’s talk about the packaging of bread for the freezer.
For unopened loaves of bread, you can put the product directly in the freezer, without the need for additional packaging.
For leftover bread, transfer slices to freezer bags and squeeze as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing.
|If the bread can be crushed by other foods in the freezer before it freezes, transfer it to a plastic container for further protection.|
defrost the bread
When you need a few slices of bread, here are some options for how you can defrost them:
- On the counter. Separate the slices and place them on a plate to thaw quickly. The process should take between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices.
- Use a toaster oven or sandwich maker. Take the frozen slices and heat them up with one of the appliances. If you don’t plan to make toast, let the appliance warm up a bit, then turn it off and put the bread in. This will defrost and reach room temperature in a few minutes.
Remember that you should always use the bread right after defrosting it.
You want to know more? Check our article on freezing bread.
how long does bread last
Store-bought bread, both multigrain, whole wheat, and white, lasts 5-7 days in the pantry. Although it is still edible after a week, it is usually already stale.
When it comes to homemade bread, you can keep it in the pantry for about 4-5 days. It goes stale and spoils faster than store-bought bread, but it still lasts much longer than a baguette (see my How to Store a Baguette article).
If you put the bread in the fridge (and close it well!), its useful life will be extended by a few more days.
You can keep the bread in the freezer for as long as you want, but it is better to use it before three months for quality reasons. The quality of the bread slowly deteriorates in the freezer, hence the recommendation.
The longer you plan to keep the bread in the freezer, the better its packaging will be. So if you want to keep it there for more than a month, put a double layer of aluminum foil on the slices or extra freezer bags.
|store bought bread||5 – 7 days||7 – 12 days||3 months|
|home made bread||3- 5 days||5 – 8 days||3 months|
Please note that the periods above are approximate.
How do you know if the bread is bad?
Let’s start with the stale bread.
Stale bread is dry and hard. However, it is not technically broken. At least not in the sense that it makes you sick. It is perfectly safe to eat, although it may not be the most pleasant to consume.
You can eat it or decide to throw it away for quality reasons. It depends on you.
|A good trick for stale bread is to heat it in a toaster or in the oven. It tastes much better after heat treatment. Also, you can use stale bread to make croutons or breadcrumbs.|
When it comes to bad bread, there are some pretty obvious signs.
Visible signs of mold or white, black, blue or green spots on your bread are a sure sign that it has gone bad and should be thrown away.
If store-bought bread smells like vinegar, yeast, or even alcohol, get rid of that, too.
When the spoilage process is so far along that you can smell it, it’s time to cut losses and toss the bread. Yes, even when there are no visible signs of deterioration and “it just smells bad”.
If the bread looks and smells good, it’s probably safe to eat. To confirm, eat a small piece (no butter or anything). If it tastes sour, throw it away. Otherwise it appears that the bread is perfectly safe to eat.