Can Bread Be Refrozen? How To Refreeze & Defrost Bread

Published on
09 November 2021
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

We know freezing bread is a great way to keep fresh bread at your fingertips for months after a day of baking. It does well in the freezer, the reheating process is quick and straightforward and making bread in bulk is an ideal way to save time. But what happens if you take out too much bread from the freezer? Or what if plans change at the last minute, but you already pulled your bread out? Can bread be refrozen and put back in the freezer?

Yes, you can stick that bread back in the freezer. However, it will be slightly staler since it will have lost some of its moisture. It can also have a softer crust. If you need to refreeze your bread, you will want to do it right away. To prevent staling, you will want to have it back in your freezer within one day, two at the absolute most.

What happens when bread is frozen?

When bread is baked it softens the starch in the flour. This makes it soft and fluffy. Freezing hardens the starch, turning it into resistant starch. Essentially, the process makes it more difficult for the enzymes to break the starch down into sugar.

The resistant starch is consumed by the bacteria in the gut. Instead of the calories providing energy to our body, they are fed to the gut bacteria. Thus, your body receives far fewer calories from frozen bread.

What happens when frozen bread is defrosted?

As frozen bread returns to room temperature, the structure of the bread reforms and the starch particles form crystalline regions. This process is called retrogradation which also causes moisture to be lost from the original starch structure. As molecules of free water appear they colonise on the outer edges of the bread. This softens the crust.

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The best way to prevent a soggy crust when defrosting bread is to bake it. This crispens the crust whilst the starch re-aligns itself again. The bread will taste fresh again, but because moisture is lost it will turn dry and stale quickly.

Can bread be refrozen?

Yes, bread can be refrozen, but there will be a loss of quality, so it’s best avoided if you can. Bread does fine when it is frozen once, but it will be much worse if it is frozen more than once. Just make sure you do everything you can to avoid freezer burn, or your bread will not be very tasty.

How to properly refreeze your bread

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to refreeze your bread, here are some helpful hints:

  • Make sure that your bread has thoroughly cooled before freezing the first time. Refreezing bread before it is cooled retains moisture, leading to condensation forming on the bread. The result is a risk of mould developing in the freezer and potential freezer burn.
  • Refreeze sliced bread only if you don’t plan to bake the bread to refresh it.
  • Pack slices of bread together and double-wrap with a layer of plastic wrap and tin foil. Be careful to cover completely without squishing the bread! Once you have it wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, wrap it a second time with a layer of tin foil. The plastic wrap will keep the air out, and the tin foil will help prevent the bread from getting freezer burn. Add a second layer of aluminium foil if you want further protection.
  • Once you have it wrapped up tight, write the type of bread on it, date it, put it in the freezer, and forget it.
Tip: Bread can last in the freezer for six months, but you should use it within three for best results. That way, there is less risk of freezer burn.

How to reheat your bread

Now that you know you can refreeze your bread. Let’s talk about reheating it. There are a few ways you can do this.

Thawing slices of bread:

  1. The first way is to thaw it at room temperature. Then, take the bread out of the freezer and place it covered on the counter until it has thawed. Depending on how thick the bread is, determines how long it will take to thaw. So, be sure you have enough time.
  2. A quick option is to reheat your refrozen bread in the toaster. It will just take a couple of minutes to give you warm toasty bread. But that also means your bread is toasted, so you may want to consider that first. A good thing about toasting is that it will remove the stale taste you will get from refreezing.
  3. You can use the microwave to heat your bread, simply put them in and set the timer from 20-60 seconds. It’s the quickest method, but it can come out steaming, moist, and not firm in texture.

Thawing whole frozen bread:

The best way to defrost a frozen loaf is to bake it. Preheat the oven to 210C (410F), insert the loaf, adding steam to the oven if you want it extra crispy. Depending on the size of the bread it will take 8-16 minutes to bake.

Small types of bread like bagels or individual rolls will only need 5-8 minutes. Take a temperature read of the centre of the bread by using a temperature probe. The temperature should be above 55C (131F) for the bread to be properly refreshed.

How to avoid refreezing bread

We recommend when you bake a lot of loaves of bread that you plan to freeze, think about what you want to do with that bread and prepare accordingly. Slice more of the bread as it is easier to get the quantity you need for each serving. You don’t have to thaw a whole loaf if it can lead to waste.

What to do with dry bread that’s been refrozen?

If the bread is dry and hard after defrosting for a second time, not to worry. There are plenty of options for using that refrozen bread! You can make croutons or breadcrumbs. You can use it for open-faced sandwiches.

The stale texture will hold up to sauces and gravies, and I doubt you will notice much difference in the texture. Or, you could use the dry bread for bruschetta. Simply grill and top the bread with delicious toppings such as grilled tomato, basil, feta, or mozzarella. Or you could do a mushroom, caramelised onion with goat cheese. Lots of options!

Frequently asked questions about refreezing bread

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