I hate wasting money, and I hate wasting food—so stale bread really makes me mad! While I contemplated giving up bread altogether (both my wallet and waistline would probably thank me), it wasn’t a realistic option for my carb-loving family. I found several tips to help keep bread fresh. Here’s what I learned:

Learn the Bread Tag Freshness Color Code: Have you seen those primary colored twists/tie tags on loaves of bread at the grocery store? Well they’re not just for decoration—the colored tags actually indicate what day of the week the bread was baked. Here’s the freshness color code that is used by a large number of bread manufacturers:

When you buy your next loaf of bread, check its tag’s color code. Ideally, the color of the tag should be the same day as the day you are shopping (i.e. if you’re shopping on Thursday, you want to buy bread with a red tag on it). Wednesday typically gets no tag.

Don’t Refrigerate Your Bread: For years I had been operating under the mistaken belief that bread stays fresh longer when you keep it in the fridge. Turns out, the opposite is true—the refrigerator actually draws moisture out of the bread. Bread stored in the fridge becomes stale three times faster than bread left out at room temperature. To maximize your bread’s shelf life, store it in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Freeze Your Bread to Extend Its Life: A loaf of bread’s “best by” date is merely a suggestion. If you freeze your bread, it can last for up to 12 weeks after its “best by” date. To freeze bread, wrap it in aluminum foil and then store it in a sealable plastic bag or air-tight container in the freezer. Also, it’s best to freeze the bread in slices because it’s easier to defrost that way. When you want to eat your bread, you can defrost it by placing slices of bread directly in the toaster. Do not use the toaster’s defrost button: the defrost function uses a lower power setting that will evaporate the moisture in the bread without cooking it, which leads to toast that tastes like cardboard. It’s best to use the toaster on full power.

Revive Stale Bread in the Oven: Wrap your stale bread in aluminum foil and put it in a preheated oven for five to ten minutes at 450 °F. Remove your bread from the oven and let it cool while still wrapped in the aluminum foil. Eat your bread as soon as possible because reheating bread more than once will make it dry.

Repurpose Stale Bread: There are tons of ways to repurpose stale bread. Some of my favorites include French toast, homemade croutons, and bread pudding. You can even grind up stale bread into bread crumbs and use them to top macaroni and cheese or another casserole, coat fish or poultry, or to make flavorful meatballs or meatloaf. Bon Appétit!

Leave a Reply

26 thoughts on “How to Keep Bread Fresh”

  1. Pinneypower says:

    there is a bread store for Orowheat/thomas’s close by to where i live….a trip there every 3 months supplies my small chest freezer with all kinds of bread/buns/english muffins…etc. the best use for a freezer i could not sell and it leaves all that room in my big upright freezer.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but I beg to differ in regards to keeping bread in the fridge vs. keeping it at room temperature.  Bread grows mold alot faster left out warm or room temp than it does kept cold.  As far as freshness, well mold would tell me it’s no longer such.  I keep mine in the fridge and this works great for me.  Freezing and taking out slices as needed, letting them sit on the counter to thaw however seems the best way to go soooo this is what I’m gonna do hereafter.  Thanks for that tip Stacie.

  3. Ashuraafv says:

    There is another way to store your breads, flours, grains, cereals, pastas, and dried spices, beans, ext.  Feel free to experement.  It is called oven canning.

    The proccess is very simple.
    Place your dry goods into any size canning jar that fis your needs.
    Preheat your oven to 200 deg.
    Place your jars on a cookie sheet.
    Place it in the middle of your oven for 20 minutes.
    Take one jar out at a time, and place a warmed lid and screw down the ring.
    Let cool on your counter fully.

    Now your dry goods will stay fresh for up to several years as long as you reseal them when they are opened.

  4. Lisa says:

    Keep your bread out on the counter where it is in the light.  Don’t keep it on top of the fridge or dishwasher where it will get warm or damp.  Just remember mold loves to grow in dark, damp places.  My bread lasts quite a long time now that I stopped keeping it in a breadbox.

  5. Tracy K. says:

    I don’t think they follow the tags here in WA. I just toss the whole thing in the freezer when I buy bread, no foil involved. When I finish a loaf off, I just take one out and leave it to thaw in the pantry. I’ve no problems doing it that way. It will extend the shelf life a little bit to refrigerate it. If I have it out too long and I’m afraid it’s going to spoil soon, I put it in the fridge and get several more days to a week out of it. Yes, bread’s cold and a little dryer but it’s not growing mold and that’s the main thing.

    • I have to agree with you. My problem isn’t with bread going stale (I honestly can’t remember the last time that that happened), it’s the fact that it gets moldy and hairy. I always try to buy loaves with “best by” dates as far in the future as I can. I’ll freeze a loaf if I have the room in the freezer.

  6. Crystal says:

    Also, make sure you look at your bread bag closely when choosing one.  You would be surprised at the number of holes in the bag (usually created by the carts the bread is brought in on).  If the bag already has a hole in it, put it back – it’s already started to go stale!

  7. Awcoupons706 says:

    If you can’t remember the colors and the days together, there is a simpler way. Blue starts with “B” which is in the beginning of the alphabet. Therefore, the earlier letter of the alphabet, the earlier in the week the bread was made.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s how I remember it too. Besides the color tag bread has a best by date printed either on the tag or the bag. The “best by” date is most important. The color tags give you a visual of which loaves will probably have the best date.

  8. Cheryl says:

    I stopped buying bread. To expensive, even when on sale and I really looked at ingredients…turned me off..so now I make my own! Since I have a Kitchen Aide mixer, it does the kneading for me! I also made my own English Muffins! YUMM! House smells great when bread is cooking!!

    • Morasue says:

      What is your favorite bread recipe (for sandwich type bread)? I have been looking for a good recipe so I can start making my own as well. 

  9. Gmbell55 says:

    Wednesday has no tag because bread is not delivered on Wednesday. My husband owns a bread route.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You can use stale bread to make panzanella- Italian Bread Salad.  The best bread to use is a firm/coarse textured bread.  White bread- ala Mrs. Bairds- will not work.   There are a gazillion recipes for panzanella but I simply cube the bread, chop fresh tomatoes,onion, basil, mix together, add salt & pepper, drizzle on olive oil and a healthy amount of lemon juice. The longer you wait the better the flavors are absorbed by the bread.  Needless to say the amount of each ingredient is according to taste.  If you can’t make the salad, simply cube the stale bread, toast lightly in an oven until dry, and store the cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer.

    If you make bread crumbs, you can add various seasonings such as powdered garlic, onion, basil, parmesan cheese for a flavored bread crumb mix.  Use your favorite seasonings.  There is no set recipe.  Have fun and be creative.

  11. Stacie says:

    Thanks!  I buy Nature’s Own whole wheat at Dollar Tree for $1.  I usually buy 5-7 loaves and freeze.  I take one out of the deep freeze when needed and set on counter, as is.  When thawed, I take off tie and store in bread container with a lid! 

  12. Lisa says:

    Ok I’ll bite if Wednesday gets no tag as the article states how does it stay closed?  :)

  13. sully says:

    wow this is interesting. really good info thanks

  14. College_couponer12 says:

    wow I had no idea about the colored tags! loved this article.