Good Question: How Do I Store Bread?

Tanner writes: Hi there! I recently started making bread (thanks to your link to the Times No-Knead recipe) and, and I'm loving it -- for the first day. My problem is storage!

In a zip-lock bag, the bread gets mushy; on the counter, it gets hard. I don't have room for a full-on breadbox, so what's the best solution for storing homemade bread? I live in Salt Lake City, so it's a really dry heat right now, with no humidity to worry about.

Thanks for all the great posts and help!

Tanner, first off, great job on making bread more often. We're glad the recipes have been inspiring! We also make bread so much more now with the no-knead recipe; it's one quick mix, an overnight rise, and plop! Bake! Fresh bread! So incredibly easy and better than anything from the grocery store. Here are links to our two favorite bread recipes:

No-Knead Bread in a Hurry
No-Time Bread

But homemade bread doesn't have any preservatives so yes, storing and eating past a day or two presents problems. Breads like the no-knead are called lean breads; they don't have any added fat to keep them soft and moist, so they dry out quickly.

Storing in plastic doesn't let moisture escape, so lean bread stored in a plastic bag will indeed get mushy and eventually mold if there is moisture present. Storing in the refrigerator is also very bad for bread; it dries out at that temperature. If you store the bread in the open it also dries out, especially in dry Western climates. A compromise with plastic wrap is to wrap the bread very tightly in a couple layers of plastic so there is no air between the plastic and the bread, and then to store it in a cool, dark place.

The most ideal situation is a ceramic bread box (not one of the stainless steel ones). The ceramic lets the bread breathe and stay moist, but it still shields it from the worst of the dry air. We really like this ceramic bread bin from Nigella Lawson's line. The top doubles as a bread board.

Nigella Lawson Ceramic Bread Bin, Blue with Beech Lid, $64.99 at ChefTools

If you do not have space for a bread box, try wrapping the bread in a clean bar towel, then put it in a paper bag. One of these linen bread bags is a good small-space solution:

Liking: Bread Bags from UMA, $27.50 at UMA

Ultimately you should eat homemade bread within a day or two of baking, or else freeze it, well-wrapped.

Lean breads also make great breadcrumbs and croutons, so you can also let the bread dry out completely in a paper bag and then grind in a food processor or chop up for croutons.

Recipe: D.I.Y. Dried Breadcrumbs

Any more good tips for Tanner?

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