A food that is almost always on the table, without a doubt, is bread. Its versatility allows us to enjoy it as a food companion, as a starter, dessert or as an appetizer in the form of sandwiches, sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. For this reason, sometimes we may buy too much bread; We accumulate pieces of bread and they get tough over time. What is the solution? The answer is very simple and can be summed up in three words: conservation, recovery and use.
In RecetasGratis we have for you the infallible tricks to preserve bread, prevent it from getting hard, know where to store it, learn how to freeze it and avoid the most common mistakes when preserving it. Take note and discover how to preserve homemade bread.
How to prevent bread from getting hard
Once the bread is baked, after a few days, it begins to age. This happens because the starch molecules lose moisture and break down. Although the deterioration process of bread is irreversible and natural (even if it is vacuum packed, without exposure to air), it is also true that certain conditions accelerate its degradation and others retard it. For this reason, you will surely find the following tips for storing bread very interesting and useful:
- Keep bread out of the fridge. Keeping bread in the fridge causes it to undergo a chemical process called starch retrogradation, consequently, it acquires a rubbery or soft texture, loses flavor and freshness. In the specific case of sliced bread, it resists a little in the fridge, however, its flavor and texture also change because they lose freshness.
- Keep the bread in a cloth bag or bread basket. Both forms represent classic ways of preserving bread (as well as Kraft paper bags, wooden boxes or a cloth), thus avoiding direct and continuous exposure to the environment. In this way, the bread does not mold or dry out (it protects itself from the air but it breathes), which is why it keeps better and longer. Therefore, this is the best way to preserve bread from one day to the next.
- Wait until the bread cools down. Whether you make the bread at home or buy it, as long as the bread is hot, let it cool down. You can place the piece of bread on a rack, preferably, until it cools and then immediately put it in the bag (if it is a paper bag) or store it in a suitable wrapper or container.
- Avoid cutting extra slices of bread. The ideal is to keep the whole loaf of bread and only cut what is necessary, since the crust of the bread fulfills the function of protecting the crumb, preserving its freshness and softness for a longer time. So, when you save bread, place the cut part (where the crumb shows) down, thus minimizing its contact with the air.
- Freeze bread. Why chilled no and frozen yes? Because starch retrogradation occurs at temperatures below 8 ºC, not below -8 ºC. However, when freezing bread do not forget to wrap it in a plastic bag, plastic wrap or aluminum foil (you should not freeze it directly).
- Bake or toast bread. If for any circumstance you cannot apply any of the above options to keep the bread fresh or for some reason they do not work for you, you always have the option of heating the bread or using it as an ingredient (grated, chopped or sliced) for a recipe .
Where to keep the bread
If you want to keep the bread fresh for a longer time, it is essential to keep it in a suitable place. The worst place for bread is the refrigerator, without exception (including sliced bread), since it accelerates its aging too much (two days in the fridge equals four in the bread basket).
The ideal conditions for preserving bread are as follows: a clean, fresh and dry place; avoid direct exposure to sunlight; protect it from prolonged and direct exposure to air (air must circulate but in a controlled manner). Remember that these conditions apply to any wrapper or container you choose for bread.
With that said, how about we review the best ways to preserve bread? Here is where to save it:
In a cloth bag
This classic bread storage package is very efficient for two important reasons:
- Avoid direct contact of bread with air. Thus, it neither dries out nor hardens (aging is delayed).
- Let the bread breathe. Thanks to this, it does not soften or develop mold (unlike plastic bags that are airtight).
If you want to enhance the effectiveness of this method, add a piece of potato or a celery stick inside the bag (this recommendation also applies to Kraft paper bags and fabrics). Without a doubt, the cloth bag is one of the most effective and recommended bread rolls to preserve bread.
In a kraft paper bag
Paper bags represent another iconic resource if we want to protect bread from the environment, just like cloth bags. This type of wrapping is ideal, since the paper allows the release of moisture, so that the bread breathes and prevents the formation of fungi and, consequently, keeps crisp and fresh.
On a towel or cloth
It fulfills the same function as the cloth bag or kraft paper bag, making it an ideal alternative if you do not have any of the two previous containers. You just have to wrap the bread, store it in a suitable place and that's it. The ideal materials are cotton or linen, always washed with a neutral detergent that does not leave a very strong or penetrating odor, since the fragrance can be impregnated in the bread (this advice is also valid for the cloth bag).
In a bread basket
This type of container works the same as all the previous ones: reducing the loss of humidity and keeping the crust somewhat crisp. There are breadbaskets of different designs, where the material (wood, enameled metal, tinplate, stainless steel or plastic) influences its functionality. For example, metal indoor bread basins retain the proper level of humidity, however, in hot locations they may favor mold growth. On the other hand, plastic bread rolls become the last option because the plastic does not allow the bread to breathe.
In a wooden box
Wood is considered an ideal material to create packaging that conserves bread, because in practice it works very well because it allows bread to breathe and protects it from the environment. However, like everything, it has a point against it. If you do not take good care of a drawer made of wood, it can trap a lot of moisture inside, which can harm the preservation of the bread, since it acquires the flavor of wood or produces mold.
How to freeze bread
Believe it or not, freezing bread can be an interesting option if you don't want to waste food or don't have time to go shopping. In addition, you will invest very little time in this procedure and the steps are very simple, here you can check it:
- Choose a good quality bread. If you want an optimal result when freezing bread, prefer a good quality one. A good bread, during its elaboration, goes through a long period of fermentation, a fact that makes it healthier (lowers its glycemic index), digestible and prolongs its freshness. This type of bread benefits from freezing because it not only lengthens its life, but also enhances these benefits. Therefore, in addition to knowing how to preserve bread at home, we encourage you to prepare your own bread following these recipes: "How to make homemade bread".
- Cut it into slices. This step is optional in the case of loaves of bread and highly recommended in sliced or round loaves. What is the advantage of freezing slices and not the whole piece? 1. You don't need to defrost the whole piece, just what you want to consume. 2. Bread thaws faster because it is a slice. Plus, you can even directly toast the bread without defrosting.
Now yes, let's see how to freeze bread:
- Wrap the piece on paper towels and then on aluminum foil. Thus the bread is isolated from the smells of the fridge and humidity, and it does not burn in the cold. Make sure the foil is tightly closed when wrapping the bread. This procedure works for both loaves of bread and sliced bread (in this case you must wrap each slice).
- Put it in a plastic bag make it tightly closed. This step reinforces the previous one and ensures that the bread will remain completely isolated from the outside.
- Label the bag. It is important to specify the type of bread and the date on which you frozen it, so you will know the deadline to consume it.
- Use the bread in the course of a month or 15 days. Although some claim that frozen bread can last up to three months, the common is a month or less (depending on the type of bread).
How long does frozen bread last
The only drawback of this method is that the smaller pieces must last less time frozen, 15 days maximum, as they lose quality. Instead, a large, thick-crust slice of bread can last up to a month in the freezer.
As a summary, the duration of frozen bread by type is as follows:
- Country bread, rolls, bars and the like: 15 days.
- Sliced bread: 1 month.
How to defrost bread
Thawing bread without an oven is very simple, since you simply have to remove the frozen bread from the freezer and allow it to thaw at room temperature. So that, let the bread thaw naturally and then heat it up (roasting, baking, etc.). In the case of sliced bread and country bread, you can toast the slices even frozen.
Once the bread is thawed, consume it immediately. Remember that any food after thawing suffers the acceleration of its aging and, consequently, the loss of its organoleptic qualities (taste, texture, odor, etc.). So, as soon as you heat it, you should eat it, because in a short time it will be tasteless and harder than before.
Can you defrost bread in the microwave?
Yes you can! Simply remove the bread from the wrapper, put it in the microwave, activate the defrost function and leave it for a few seconds. Depending on the size of the piece, you will need more or less time, but the truth is that defrosting bread in the microwave is a very fast process. Once thawed, we recommend toasting it.
How to defrost baked bread
As we have mentioned, to defrost baked bread, simply insert the piece into this appliance and heat it to 180 ºC until it is toasted to your liking. The time will depend on whether you want it to be more or less toasted, but we recommend you keep an eye on it to avoid burning it.
Mistakes when preserving bread
Because we always learn from our mistakes, even more than with our successes, it is very useful to know what are the most common mistakes when preserving bread:
- Select a poor quality bread. The consequence of improper choice provides a bread that quickly molds or hardens. What is the difference between one of good quality and another of poor quality? A good bread has high fermentation and is prepared from sourdough. In this sense, industrial breads are not the most recommended for freezing. Physically, you can also detect quality bread by looking at two characteristics: dark brown crust and honeycomb. Instead, the not-so-good ones are yellow or straw-colored breads.
- Do not verify the type of flour that was used to prepare the bread. Some flours contain more moisture than others, therefore, their derived products preserve for less time. So, based on this information, you can get an idea of how long fresh bread can last. Some of the flours with the highest percentage of humidity are made from legumes.
- Put it in the fridge. For what we discussed above about the retrogradation of starch, it is advisable not to keep the bread in the fridge.
- Place it in a plastic bag. This type of bag does not allow the bread to breathe, so its moisture condenses and produces fungi.
- Freeze it improperly. If you do not follow the recommendations for freezing bread, it will probably last less than planned or lose its properties.
- Defrost it incorrectly. Not defrosting bread correctly causes the loss of its organoleptic characteristics (smell, taste, etc.).
- Do not use the bread of the previous day. If you buy more bread than necessary, it will accumulate and end up getting tough. Calculate how much they consume in your house per day and buy based on that. So, if something is left over, you can taste it the next day, during breakfast, still in good condition.
- Leave the bread exposed to the environment. If you leave it exposed, its aging accelerates (it gets hard and dry before time).
- Buy small bread. Many bakery professionals share the opinion that a loaf or bun dries faster than a loaf, as they have less hydration and lose more moisture (because they are narrower).
- Waste the bread. This food can always be recovered (unless it acquires moisture), so don't even throw it away. The hard bread can be recovered by roasting or using it in some recipes for use, such as the popular bread pudding or the Extremadura crumbs.
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