our everyday life

Does Bread Expire?

by Hallie Engel

There are few things that don't taste delicious served between two pieces of bread. Whether it's a crusty baguette, focaccia flecked with olives or a braided loaf of challah, bread can turn leftover meat, veggies and cheese into a proper meal. Keeping bread fresh can be tricky, though, especially if you want to take your time eating it. Although stale bread can be revived, throw away moldy bread to avoid illness.

Average Lifespan for Bread

How long bread lasts depends on where it comes from. Fresh soft bread from a bakery is good for two to three days past the date on the package, according to the website Eat By Date. Mass-produced soft bread sold in plastic bags at the grocery store is a little more resilient, lasting for five to seven days past the printed date. Homemade bread doesn't contain preservatives and may go stale in two to three days.

Fridge and Breadbox Storage

Keeping bread in the refrigerator prevents bacterial growth, but it's not ideal. The cool, dry conditions of a fridge dry bread out quickly, making it dry and stale. Breadboxes keep loaves fresh by retaining moisture, while holes in the box allow air to circulate to prevent it from going moldy quickly. However, too many loaves stuffed into a breadbox raises humidity levels too much, allowing mold to flourish.

Freezing

Freezing ensures months of freshness by preventing starches in bread from degrading. Bread from the bakery, store or your oven will last up to six months when frozen, but securely wrap it in foil or plastic beforehand to prevent it from drying out. For the freshest bread, freeze it as quickly as possible after baking or buying it. Allow homemade bread to cool before placing it in the freezer.

Thawing

To defrost an entire loaf of bread, let it reach room temperature before putting it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for five to 10 minutes. Covering bread in foil before placing it in the oven will help it retain moisture. If thawing single slices, let them sit on the counter, or pop them in the toaster if you're in a rush.

About the Author

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.

Photo Credits

  • Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Getty Images