If you know you won’t be able to eat all your bread within 5 days, or are purposely saving it for another occasion, your best bet is to freeze it. It is the best preservative available that won’t compromise a loaf’s integrity and will hardly affect it’s eating quality. If you are going to have it in the freezer for more than a few days, we would recommend double bagging it in plastic before you put it in. Still others like to either cut it in half or even slice it before freezing so that it is easy to take out a smaller portion at a time.
Here are some pointers for what to do with your frozen loaf:
1. If you want to save the loaf for a future date, you can put it right back in the freezer. It will stay fresh in the freezer for 2-3 months.
2. If you want to use the bread now, thaw the loaf at room temperature in it’s plastic bag. Do not thaw it out in the refrigerator as this will promote further staling. The goal is to bring it to room temperature as quickly as possible.
3. Once your bread has thawed out, you can use it as usual for toast or grilled sandwiches. If you want to eat the bread fresh, we recommend “refreshing” the loaf as described below in point #4. Refreshing the loaf will lengthen the shelf life as well as de-stale the inside of the crumb, making it more desirable for eating fresh. We typically like to store the bread in the plastic bag, but this is an issue of personal opinion.
4. If you want to “refresh” the whole loaf all at one time, simply place the thawed bread directly on the rack in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or 400+ degrees for 10-15 minutes, then let it cool slightly before cutting and serving. The crusty surface will be revived as if it just came out of the oven for the first time! If you want to refresh a frozen loaf quickly, you can do the same thing by increasing the time to 30-40 minutes and placing the frozen loaf in the oven (however, you will get quite a thick crust this way).
5. Store your bread at room temperature. In the winter months, it should last a week before succumbing to mold. In the summertime, mold may appear as soon as day 4. If you are getting close to this time, you can put the loaf in the refrigerator just to prevent any mold from blooming on your loaf, otherwise room temperature is best. You can also kill any mold that might be growing on the surface by putting the loaf in the oven for 5-10 minutes – this will give the loaf another 4-7 days of shelf life.