Storing bread: What’s the best way?

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We try to make only enough bread to eat on the same day, but if you have leftovers, the best way to store homemade bread is unwrapped and cut-side down on a non-porous surface like a plate, at room temperature (not in the refrigerator).  This preserves the crust a little more than if you put it into a plastic bag, which softens the crust very quickly.  The exception is pita bread, which is soft-crusted in the first place and is great in a plastic bag–but wait till it cools before bagging.

How long can you store bread this way? Maybe 24 hours. You can extend that a little if you put it in a plastic bag (refrigeration optional), and it’s often OK for toasting a day or two later.

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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172 thoughts on “Storing bread: What’s the best way?

  1. So once you put the bread cut side down on a plate, you do not wrap it? I just ordered your bok and am still waiting for it, but when I make a loaf I will have leftovers as my husband rarely eats bread so it will just be myself eating it usually.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      We don’t cover the bread because it makes the crust soft/soggy. If you have lots of bread left over, you may consider baking smaller loaves.

      Enjoy all the bread and happy baking!

  2. If you must store the bread in something—for example, to give as a gift—what’s the best product to wrap or store it in?

    1. Gail: Something that breathes, like brown paper. Don’t wrap it tightly. No matter what you, do, the crust will probably get soft. Jeff

  3. What about freezing it after it is baked? I’d love to bake it fresh daily but it’s just not practical right now. Can I bake two loaves and freeze one?

    1. Hi Cara,

      You can certainly freeze the loaves, just be sure to wait until they are totally cool before wrapping very well in plastic.

      Enjoy the bread, Zoë

  4. Why is this bread so hard to cut? My son said I need a saw? I use an electric knife now but it sure compresses the bread. Thanks.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      Which loaf are you baking? Do you have an oven thermometer? If your oven is not at the right temperature it may be over baking the crust. Be sure to wait a while before cutting into the loaf or it may be gummy on the inside. Cutting hot bread will result in a hard crust and a compressed crumb.

      I hope that helps! Zoë

  5. The master recipe: Boule and Roasted garlic potato bread; happens to both. I have checked with the oven thermometer and its fine. I usually make bread early on before company even gets here so it is not hot when cutting. Could I be using too much or too hot water? I don’t always measure the water. It sizzles and steams when I pour it in the pan.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      Do you think your loaves are larger than 1-pound in size, this would be about 1/4 of a batch. If the loaf is larger than 1-pound you will need to allow it to rest longer and bake longer to get the interior to bake all the way through. Also baking on a hot stone is helpful in baking the bread thoroughly.

      Here is a post I just did on baking the master recipe. Take a look and see if there are things that I may be doing differently.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Maureen,

      The oven temperature will effect the crust as well as the crumb. If you have the bake the bread too long it will be thicker.

      Hope that helps, Zoë

  6. My grandfather, a baker, always wrapped his bread in a clean dishcloth as it was cooling. It stops the crust going rock hard but doesn’t make it goes soggy either because the heat passes out through the cloth.

    When it is completely cool I put the bread, still wrapped in the dish cloth, into the vegetable drawer of the fridge.

    1. Laura: Sounds like you have a system that works for you— I prefer a firmer crust, but that’s a matter of taste entirely. Jeff

  7. To Maureen’s question:
    We found that our bread knife was dull. We got a new one that is very sharp and it cuts beautifully, even when the bread is still warm.

  8. I too like the fresh loaf but I am troubled–ecologically–by having the oven on for so long a time almost every day for such a small loaf. Since my husband loves toast, having bread a day or two old is not a problem at our house. FOR WHAT LENGTH OF TIME WOULD YOU SUGGEST I BAKE A DOUBLE SIZE LOAF?

    1. Nan: Should take about 30% longer than what’s called for in a one-pound loaf. But go by the color and appearance, may take longer. Jeff

  9. Hi Jeff & Zoe –
    I cannot gush enough about your book!!! I’ve already “sold” lots to friends & coworkers. My sister & I tell people that your book has “changed our lives” 🙂 Just wondering, how do you recommend storing bagels.. same as bread? Baked some for my hubby for V-day (think he’s nominated me for “wife of the year” because of them:)
    Thank you thank you

    1. JessG: Well, bagels are a difficult one– honestly, they become hockey pucks pretty quickly because of the large surface area. I’d go for the plastic bag once cool, and consider freezing after that.

      Congratulations, wife of the year! Jeff

    1. Hi Brendan,

      You can wrap it in a paper or cloth bag, but it will get stale faster because it is exposed to air. The other alternative is foil.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  10. I love your bread but no single person, as I am, can eat a loaf a bread a day. Is there anyway to keep the bread fresh longer? Mine usually goes moldy within a couple of days.

    1. Dorothy: To me, the best strategy for a single person is to make small loaves, or even rolls (see the bialy post, all about a single person and their solution to your problem: Short of that, the only way to avoid the bread going stale is to wrap it well, and freeze it. Otherwise, we preserve the crust by putting the loaf cut-side-down onto a non-porous surface. Jeff

  11. LOVE your books! I am not a baker (no patience) so you have given me a special gift. Thank you. Now I have to figure out how to not gain 100 pounds. The bread is a bit addicting.
    Gotta go. Off to make a couple of rolls for breakfast : )

  12. We have a second house that we go to every 2 weeks. Sometimes it means remaining dough will sit that long in a refrigerator. I was wondering if I could put the remaining dough in a plastic bag and take it with us in a cooler to the other house. The trip takes 2 hours.

  13. I like to use temperature to tell when bread is done. An internal temperature of 210 F works well for more traditional recipes, but my 5-min loafs are more like 180-190 after the recommended baking time. They look pretty done, but the interior is still a bit wet. Have you tried determining the best temperature for a loaf that is done?

    1. Dave: 205 works for lean breads, and 185 for egg-enriched ones, though I rarely actually do it (once you get experienced with a particular oven, loaf size, and target color, you become very confident). My small loaves (the one-pounders we suggest in the books) get to 205 at the posted time; any chance your oven’s off in temp (sounds like it may be cool)? Check it with an inexpensive thermometer like this one on Amazon

  14. I too have trouble cutting my bread and wondered about my knife, it is a cheapy,,,do you have one you recommend? I would like to get a good one. Thanks!

  15. I’m confused about the cover being “not airtight.” I have the Cambro 6 qt container. Does “not airtight” mean just lay the lid on top or is the container still not airtight even with the lid pushed on completely? (Love your book – I’ve made two batches of the boule and haven’t quite gotten what I consider a good loaf yet. The first was too salty for me and the second was too bland. Both batches yielded gummy insides; the second not quite so much after adjusting the water for using King Arthur flour. I just bought an oven thermometer, so I hope the third batch is the charm.)

    1. Suzanne: First off, adjust the salt to whatever you like– we started with salty stuff because that’s what we like. For lean dough, 205 degrees works well.

      The cover: Snap it down, then lift off one side of it a little so gas can get out. Can snap down after 48 hours. Jeff

  16. Re: storage of bread. This is for those of you have a 1 person household most of the time and don’t think you should “waste” oven heat daily for a small loaf. I found that a handheld FreshSaver appliance with a gallon size Foodsaver bag works well when I know I am not going to eat a whole loaf that day or next. As long as I let bread cool well…then vacuum out most of the air I find my WW and RYE breads are much better the day after (I bake late). The special plastic bags are not like traditional plastic bags. I was using a metal bread box…but I live in the Pacific NW…and bread will mold up here even in a bread box because of humidity. Since using these special bags…I can now make a good 3 cup flour loaf, cut in half, place in Foodsaver bag and give other half to neighbor. I just vacuum out the air each time I open bag. This has worked well for me with much less waste.

  17. I have also found that a cake safe with a wooden base is a really great way to store the bread. Keeps it away from the dog, but with in reach for us. Must admit even doing the cut side down on the wooden base the crust softens up. Then again I live in the Tidewater region where there is always humidity.

  18. What are the breads pictured on the jacket cover of the HBin5 book? They look wonderful but I can’t find anywhere that says which recipes they are.

    1. Vici: The cover is the Master Recipe Chapter 5 basic loaf. Now, starting from the upper L-hand corner of back cover, it’s:

      Master Recipe Chapter 5 basic loaf, baked as a boule (ball)
      Zucchini Flatbread
      Beet Buns
      Christmas Stollen
      Black and White Braided rye
      Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes (page 303)
      Indian Spiced Dougnuts

  19. As I live in Australia and we have many creepy crawlies, i don’t like to leave any food out completely uncovered, at least not at night. We also have pretty high humidity most of the year, so even if I leave the bread uncovered, it does get soft. So, what I do is, once cooled completely, I loosely wrap it in a clean dish towel (just one layer, not doubled up). That lets it breath while keeping cockroaches and ants at bay – at least a little.

  20. I’v read about your principles on baking your own bread and would really like to try it. But in Denmark, where I live, we can’t usually get dry yeast. In stead, the yeast available here is fresh yeast in little 50 grammes packages. Do you know how much to use of that both in the original recipe and the one with reduced yeast? (Usually when I make bread dough with about 1 kilo of flour, I use ½ a package, but I think that amount may be “reduced” compared to the quick way. I don’t bake often, as it takes time, so I’m really interested in trying it your way!
    Best wishes – Helle Andersen

    1. Helle: It’s in both books– in the section on yeast (page 10 of Artisan Bread in Five, and page 16 of Healthy Bread in Five). You can see some guidelines for using less yeast under our FAQs page, click that above, and scroll down to the entry on “Yeast: can it be decreased in the recipes?”

  21. I love your Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and have read it cover to cover today. I noticed that some of the bread dough can be frozen and stored to be used in various recipes. Can it be stored for longer than 2 weeks? Will this work for any of the dough recipes or only the ones recommended?

    1. Kathy: Best results are if used w/i two weeks, but I’ve kept it longer. It loses a little rising power, and you can do it for anything in the book.

  22. I’ve found leaving the bread out with the cut side down works quite well – thanks for the tip. I’d also like to make some to freeze so I don’t have to wait for them to warm up to room temperature before cooking. Is partially baking and freezing the loaves the way to do that? Would small loaves be best for that and how long would you cook them (1/2 the time)?

    1. Lisa: Par-baking would be the way to go. Instructions for par-baking are in the first book (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day); check the index.

  23. Longer term storage is something I feel I have perfected.
    Before discovering this book, I would purchase my favorite fresh baked Italian Loaves from the local grocery store in store bakery, typically $2.99 per loaf.
    Since my wife does not share my passion for this bread, I am the only one eating it. It dries out horribly withing 2 days, even though it comes in a paper wrapper. If you put it in plastic, the crust goes soft and it molds within 4-7 days.
    What I do is this. I cut the loaf into 4 equal parts. Then I freeze 3 parts in a freezer bag for later.
    The fourth part I keep in the paper wrapper from the store.
    It’s good for about 2 days.
    When I want more, I remove another section from the freezer, microwave slightly, not to fully thaw, allow it to finish thawing at room temp, slice and eat.
    Sometimes I will then put the remainder back into the freezer for another day.
    In this way, I have nursed one loaf for months, until freezer burn sets in.
    I have not tried this technique with this bread yet, since it seems to last longer before drying out, and I am always eager to try another loaf, but I am sure it will work for this bread as well.
    Just be careful to not microwave too long, it will dry it out.

  24. Bobbie, Regarding cutting the bread.
    You are spot on with sawing. You will notive bread knives have a serrated saw like cutting edge.
    A bread with a hard crust requires a rapid saw like motion with barely any downward pressure, until you cut through the top layer of crust. Then you apply slightly more pressure and continues sawing the loaf.
    As a man who has used many tools I can tell you that the action of cutting bread is more sawing than cutting.
    I recently needed to purchase a new bread knife also, as my inexpensive serrated knife had dulled after 8-10 years of service.
    I found a very nice one at TJ Max for less than $20.00
    The touch and action used to cut bread is not unlike that one must employ when cutting steel with a hand hacksaw. Lots of light pressure and sawing.

    1. Ron: You could also try par-baking the bread, see the first book, page 24. The par-baked loaves can be frozen, defrosted, and quickly baked. Jeff

  25. Jeff, I don’t see a real need for that right now, as I always keep a pail or two of dough in the frig, and at 20-30 cents per loaf, I don’t mind throwing out half a loaf or so.
    I guess it might come in handy to take a frozen loaf in the Motorhome freezer, and bake it in the convection oven on the road, or while camping, but other than that, I don’t see a need.
    I don’t even bother to freeze what I don’t eat, as the cost is so low to make a fresh one.

  26. LOL, Ah yes Zoe, the ‘table for one’ syndrome.
    As hard as I try, I cannot break my wife of her American Wonder Bread roots.
    Her idea of a good bread is Orlando Italian, in the plastic wrapper.
    Bears a striking resemblance to Wonder Bread.
    Seriously though, I am in love with half pound Baguettes, they rise nicely and have a perfectly crispy and chewy crust.
    BTW Zoe, you and I share similar backgrounds. I too did some time in communes and had back to the land friends. I ‘sold out’ and went into business myself, compromising youthful ideals for practical comforts.
    Not such a bad deal, if I say so myself. lol
    Today my idea of roughing it is when my Dish Network won’t get a clear signal on the motor home.
    Thanks for your inspiration!

    1. Hi Ron,

      Once you have lived in a teepee, there is really no reason to do it again! Time for the next experience, hopefully with indoor plumbing and an oven to bake some great bread! But, I will never give up my granola.

      I’ve made garlic bread with the brioche dough and even the most diehard wonder bread lovers couldn’t resist. I know adding lots of garlic and butter is cheating!

      Happy baking! Zoë

  27. Zoe, Funny you mentioned the Brioche. I was just reading about your hot dog buns last night!
    That led me to the Brioche section of the book, and a mental note to try that next!
    What I really would like to come up with is an outstanding hamburger bun for sandwiches.
    That seems like an area where our tastes can meet, based on various sandwich rolls I’ve gotten in the past that we both enjoyed.
    Basically, though, I like a crispy chewy bread, and those hurt her gums and teeth, so we are worlds apart with bread.
    Now a sandwich roll needs to be a little softer and forgiving, otherwise you destroy the sandwich with the first bite, so there seems to be a mutual ground there.
    I’m also going to try a teflon loaf pan, and see if I can come up with something she likes that way.
    OMG, can’t believe you did the tepee!
    I had the book, the Plains Indian Tepee, and it was one of my fantasies. Yeah, I was a little ‘out there’, blush. lol
    Never quite got to it, but read the book and thought about it a lot.
    I would still love to get an opportunity to sit in one, properly constructed with inner lining and insulated with straw, just to see how comfortable they really were in the cold bitter winter weather.
    The book had me convinced they were pretty comfy, compared to drafty old log cabins with masonry fireplaces.
    Old hippies never die, they just smell like it. lol

  28. Is there a setting on these forums that will notify me when someone posts to a thread I have posted on?
    I know some boards will send me an email notification with a link back to the thread whenever someone posts on it.
    Makes it easy to keep up.
    I find myself posting on one of these threads, (there are so many) then unable to find my way back to it once I leave.
    For example, I can’t find the thread on dough sticking to the peel.

    1. Ron: Unfortunately, we don’t have any way to auto-send an e-mail when someone posts on a thread where you’ve been active. I’m not remembering a thread about dough sticking to the peel, but there are several approaches:

      1. Switch to parchment paper rather than cornmeal or coarse whole-grain flour (Parchment on amazon at
      2. Use more cornmeal or coarse whole-grain flour
      3. Don’t over-proof your loaves
      4. If your dough’s too wet, dry it out a bit; cloak with more flour before setting down to proof

  29. Just for the record, lest I inadvertently offended anyone, I oft refer to myself as an old Hippie. lol

    1. Hey Ron,

      Some of my best friends and parents refer to themselves as old hippies, you are in good company! LOL!

      Cheers to that! Zoë

  30. do you have any simple rules about freezing the dough? We’re going out of town all of a sudden and I have a fridge full of dough!

    Can I just shape them into boules and pop them in the freezer? And then set them out on the counter for a few hours to rise before baking? or would it be better to bake all of the bread and put the bread in the freezer?

    Any ideas will help! I hate throwing dough away!

    1. Stephanie: In general, I like to wrap the dough (portioned out as it’ll be used) very well in plastic or in an airtight container. They can be pre-shaped, yes (though I don’t usually do it that way– I’m a bit sloppy). I defrost overnight in the fridge, then use as per directions the next day.

      Definitely better than freezing baked bread. Jeff

  31. HELP?!
    I just mixed my first batch of Brioche, and lost count while adding the flour.
    Not sure if I put 6 1/2 or 7 1/2 cups.
    I was thinking six and 1/2, so I added some more, but I don’t know how the dough should appear.

  32. For the gluten-free recipes, can soy flour be replaced by amaranth flour as I am sensitive to soy? Also can cornstarch be replaced by kudzu? I would love to see more gluten-free creations using some bean flour and coconut flour.

    1. Hi veritasca,

      Oh, you have stumped me on these two substitutions. You can replace the soy with another bean flour, but I’m not sure about amaranth? I have not tried using kudzu, but you can use tapioca instead of the cornstarch.

      If you do experiment with these flours I recommend starting with a 1/2 batch. Please let me know what you discover!

      Thanks, Zoe

  33. I would like to prepare the Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls (from ABin5) starting with Step 2 and freeze the rolls after cutting the log into pieces. Can you guide me on finishing out from that point? My goal is to quickly bake the rolls in the morning; should I put them in the cake pan the night before and let sit in the frig? Or can they sit on the counter all night since they’re starting from frozen?

    1. Hi Chris,

      They will need to sit in the refrigerator overnight and then sit out on the counter to rest. If you make the rolls and refrigerate them the night before, instead of freezing, then they can do their rising in the fridge without additional resting before baking. I have never tried to leave frozen dough on the counter all night to thaw and rest, but it sounds like a worth while experiment. If you do so you might want to start with a small batch.

      Thanks, Zoe

  34. I just spent some time with reading a few recipes and I’ll bet the resting time would be more like 1 to 1 1/2 hrs., right?

    1. Hi Chris,

      The resting time depends on the type of dough you are using. Many of the whole grain loaves from the second book have much longer resting times.

      Enjoy, Zoe

    1. Hi Chris,

      Then a longer rest time is necessary, you can just follow the recipe’s directions for how long. With frozen dough I sometimes add an extra 15 minutes of rising. If your kitchen is very warm this will not be necessary.

      Enjoy, Zoe

  35. I would like to make the master recipe bread from the Healthy Bread book in small, 2 to 3 oz., size to use as sandwich or dinner rolls. When I tried, they were too flat. What can I do so that they remain more ball shaped?

    1. Hi Ingrid,

      With rolls this size you need to reduce the amount of time they are resting or they will overproof and collapse when baking. Depending on the dough this can be as little as 30-40 minutes. If your dough is too wet it will also tend to spread, if you suspect this to be the case try working it with a bit more flour when shaping the balls.

      Thanks, Zoe

  36. I’ve read all the comment on storing bread but I still have a burning question. I am making lot of baguette for a fund raiser – what is the best way to store the baguettes I make in the evening for the bake sale in the morning?

    1. Judy: Baguettes are notorious for going stale quickly, because of their high surface area. If it were me, I wouldn’t do baguettes if the bread had to be stored overnight. I’d do substantial boules (but even they won’t be superlative 12 hours later).

      Older dough (longer-stored) develops by-products of yeast fermentation that act as natural preservatives, so that should help, though only a little.

      You can freeze the breads, but you’ll lose all the crust character; might not be all that much better than 12-hour old bread. Another option is par-baking, which we talk about in the 1st book. But then you’ll still have lots of work in the morning.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful! But these were meant to be consumed fast…

  37. Great advice – and thank you for responding so quickly – I am amazed at your quick response and your bread recipes!!! I will wake up early Saturday morning instead of baking the night before for our Kai Opua paddling fund raiser. With Aloha from Hawaii.

  38. I made the Italian semolina bread. The first loaf I made in a baguette shape. It was the best tasting bread I’ve had since leaving NY. The rest of the dough I made into round loaves because I wanted to freeze them and they could easily be put in a gallon size zip lock bag. I wrapped them in glad press and seal after cooling completely then put them in zip lock bags. When I defrost them at room temperature do I unwrap them to defrost or leave them wrapped. This is the best bread book I own. Thanks.

    1. Hi Geri,

      Thank you for the note. When you defrost your dough you want to leave it wrapped in the zip lock so that the condensation forms on the bag and not on the dough itself.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  39. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    I have searched the site and the web high and low but am unable to find tips on how to bake more than one loaf at a time. I know it depends on the size of the loaf, etc., but can you give me a basis to go off of….say for the master recipe from hbi5. I haven’t tried it yet, but have high hopes for my husband’s sandwiches, which I would like to freeze a week’s worth of ahead of time (sans the mayo). I plan on trying 1/3 of the dough for each loaf, for larger sandwich real estate! So, 40 minutes for just one loaf, and out of the loaf pan for the last 10 minutes as well. Just an idea on two at a time would help, and I can go from there. Keep up all the great work so that people like me can reap the benefits! 😀

  40. Zoe,

    Awesome, thank you! You guys do a great job of keeping up with your readers and their comments. It’s greatly appreciated. Do you suggest longer baking time or should I just go off crust color when doing more than one at a time? I could also test for internal temp if you have a number in mind for the master wheat recipe… Will definitely skip the steam after reading your post on sandwich loaves…and will try lower temp/increased time if it needs a little tweaking for softness.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Christina,

      You may need an additional few minutes, but not much more time. Our breads are done when they reach between 200-210 degrees, which is higher than most breads, due to the high moisture.

      If you are looking for a softer loaf you may want to try the buttermilk dough or even the challah or brioche doughs.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  41. Oh I shouldn’t have got the book. I have eaten a TON of bread in the last couple of weeks. This is TRULY wonderful! My coworkers are enjoying testing my different creations. Now, for some self control….

    1. Bonnie: If it’s any consolation, this usually evens out over time, and you go back to your old bread-eating amounts. Well, at least I did, but then, I always ate a lot of bread! Jeff

  42. I am ordering hb5d and want to be prepared when it arrives. What containers will work best? The Cambro has clear and transparent, does it matter or is quality better in one than the other. I have also heard of people using plastic shoe boxes or shallower plactic rectangle containers, would that leave enough room for the dough to rise?
    Thansk for you help

    1. Christine: When you’re starting out, it’s fine to just use a large pot with a lid, or a bowl with plastic wrap, but here’s a post about buckets:

      I don’t have a preference for clear vs cloudy, but I prefer the round containers bec flour doesn’t catch in corners that way. Rectangular are fine, just make sure it’s food-grade plastic if you use plastic. It’s the overall size that matters, not the shape, in terms of adequate rising space. 5-quart container’s enough for the recipes in the books. Jeff

  43. Hi,

    I have the Healthy Bread book and I’m trying to make the Stollen for Christmas, and I’d love to send it to some of my husband’s bachelor friends but I don’t know if it’ll keep. Is there a way to ship your bread, or will it go stale too fast?

    1. Hi Mary,

      This may be the perfect loaf for sending. It is traditional to let the stollen sit for a couple of days before eating, it is said to improve. I’ve never had the patience to wait, but many people do!

      Thanks, Zoë

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