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If you want to preserve the flavour and properties of bread, it’s best to freeze it. Even though it may sound weird, freezing is better than putting bread in the fridge. Freeze whatever you don’t think you will eat within 2–3 days.
Frozen bread will taste the same as freshly baked bread. Freezing bread will stop its clock for a few months. You will restart the clock when you thaw it out.
Just make sure to freeze it while it is fresh, instead of waiting until it gets dry or stale. Freezing dried-out bread won’t restore the soft texture you expected. Warming a loaf of bread like this in the oven will slightly refresh it, but not much.
Also, make sure there is no visible moisture in the bag. If there is, the cool temperatures plus humidity will cause it to go bad faster.
How long can bread remain frozen?
The better you wrap the bread for storage in the freezer, the longer its quality is preserved. It all depends on the preparation and storage method.
If you want to freeze the bread for a short term, which is less than 3 weeks, you could wrap the bread in a plastic bag, freezer paper or foil without any problem.
If you want to freeze the bread for more than 3 weeks, it must be wrapped tightly in plastic, then in freezer paper or foil to prevent freezer burn or de facto freeze-drying of the bread. Double-wrapping with most of the air removed will keep it fresh, and the bread can be frozen for 3 months.
A properly sealed loaf of bread may last up to 6 months in the freezer, but it will start to lose its flavour after a month, so it should be used within 3 months for better quality.
Freezers are not meant to store food indefinitely, and homemade bread is no exception. Frozen bread should be consumed within 6 months after freezing before it starts rotting, or the quality begins losing. If it sits for longer in the freezer, it will get an unpleasant freezer-like taste. However, this doesn’t mean that the bread is unsafe for consumption. If you see a freezer burn setting on the bread, it is still safe for consumption, but the quality may be compromised.
It would be ideal to label the frozen bread with the date it was made and the date it was frozen before putting it in the freezer. This way, you will know how long the bread has been frozen.
Preparing bread to freeze
If you want to keep your homemade bread fresh as long as possible, there are several steps you need to take.
Let it cool on a cooling rack before you wrap it
To freeze fresh bread, let it cool completely before bagging, so it does not become soggy or mouldy.
Do not freeze it when it is still piping hot, since there can be too much moisture buildup inside the bread’s bag as you freeze it.
The heat from the bread will prevent it from cooling down as fast and can even affect the safety of surrounding food.
Freeze bread in portions
You can slice your bread and then freeze it, so you only pull out from the freezer exactly what you will eat right away.
Not only is this the easiest time to slice it, but you can remove and thaw individual slices of bread. They’ll thaw in two to four hours, instead of waiting overnight for a whole loaf.
For more extended storage, double-wrap it
Double wrap ensures no part of the bread is exposed to the air. You can place the bread in a plastic storage container. However, aluminum foil or plastic wrap are the best choices for keeping bread’s natural moisture levels and preventing it from drying out or getting hard.
To increase the freezer storage time of the bread, you should always use heavy-duty foil (not lightweight foil) or plastic bags designed as ‘freezer bags’ to wrap your bread. Then place it in a resealable Ziploc freezer bag.
Try to get all the air out of the bread bag before you freeze the loaf so that it freezes solid as quickly as possible.
Also, ensure that the bread is correctly sealed to prevent dryness, visible moisture in the packaging and freezer burn.
Paper wrapping is NOT suggested to store bread, as it quickly dries out the bread slices, making it bad for consumption. It also increases the chances of freezer burns.
Avoid placing your bread in the freezer door
Also, avoid placing your bread in the freezer door, as it can’t keep the constant temperature.
Can you refreeze bread?
Bread taken out of the freezer and allowed to thaw can be refrozen; however, you are compromising the quality of the bread. After being refrozen, a loaf of bread will become much drier.
If you refreeze the bread, consider it as toasting bread the next time it comes out of the freezer.
Another alternative for refrozen bread would be to turn it into garlic toast when you unthaw it a second time. You could also make bread crumbs out of the loaf and use them as fillers or topping in other recipes.
When you refreeze a food product, you should always consider safety first. If you find it’s safe to refreeze, you should consider quality next and decide if the loss of quality is worth refreezing.
Thawing and preparing frozen bread
It is not difficult to thaw frozen bread, so it retains its freshness.
In the toaster
If you have frozen bread slides, you can use them directly in the toaster. They will come out nice and warm, even slightly crunchy. It will taste just like when it’s freshly baked.
In the oven
Frozen bread is best if you place it in a preheated oven while frozen. Preheat the oven to medium to high temperatures (175°C/ 350°F).
Get the bread out of the freezer, splash it with a small amount of water, and immediately place it in the preheated oven.
Note: Take out a portion you feel can be eaten in the next 48 hours, and leave the remainder of the loaf in the freezer.
5 to 10 minutes in the oven will be sufficient to revive your frozen bread.
You can also take the bread out of the freezer and let it thaw until it is no longer frozen (6 hours or overnight for a loaf and 2 to 3 hours for individual slices). For best results, If thawing on the counter, partially open the wrapping to allow the moisture to escape gradually to prevent condensation from forming on your bread, which will make the bread soggy.
After you thaw a loaf of bread, you can also “refresh” the bread. Heat it a bit, and it will taste like fresh-baked bread again. Just put it in the preheated oven at 175-190°C/350-375°F for 3 to 5 minutes (long enough for the crust to crisper before serving).
Reheating it will re-gelatinize the loaf, making it almost as springy and soft as when you froze it.
Note: You should only reheat it frozen or once after it is thawed because, after that, you are reheating stale bread.
Now you know that freezing bread can make it last for longer. It is one of the best methods to use if you want to preserve the flavour of the bread right after baking. Just toss it in the oven, and you’ll have warm bread to enjoy before you know it. This way, when you have more time during the weekend, you could bake bread and freeze it for the entire week. You won’t have to worry about fresh bread ever again.
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