Storing bread is a much-versed challenge for many of us. There are so many options that it is hard to decide how to store bread the best way in order for it to last. Storing bread in the fridge is very provocative! It almost always causes an argument on social media. Some people have stored their bread in the fridge all their life, others say it should not even be considered. So to answer “can bread be stored in the fridge?” and, “how long does bread last in the fridge?” I wrote this post to clear things up.
The refrigerator is not the best place to keep bread. When bread is stored in the fridge it becomes rock hard, often within 24 hours. Outside the refrigerator, bread lasts for three to five days. Small crust bread such as baguettes should be eaten on the day of purchase.
As the bread cools, water in the starch moves to other parts of the bread to exit via the crust. Also, starch particles surrounding the hardened gluten revert to their pre-baked crystallised structure. Starch retrogradation and water loss combine to make bread hard, dry and less palatable.
Whilst the refrigerator removes airflow to slow down moisture loss, cool temperatures accelerate starch retrogradation. This makes bread rock hard and dry in a few hours.
If you are in an extremely warm and humid climate, bread can quickly turn mouldy at room temperature. In this case, the fridge might be the best solution to store your bread.
Keep bread away from damp or airy locations by wrapping it in a cloth or tea towel and store in a bread box. Bread continues to release water when cold so avoid plastic wrap or zip-top bags. Fully-sealed solutions speed up moulding. For bread to keep for more than two or three days, place it in the freezer.
Double wrap it in plastic bags and put it in the freezer. Even store-bought bread containing preservatives turns mouldy within a month. Freezing reduces water loss and pauses starch retrogradation to keep bread lasting for longer.
Bread stored in the fridge is unlikely to turn mouldy but will become hard and unpalatable in a matter of hours. Storing bread in the fridge will not extend freshness. If you wish to keep bread after its use-by date, use the freezer.