shelf life of homemade bread


Our breads have a very short shelf life. It usually only lasts one day before it becomes dry and hard. I purchased additivies to maintain a longer shelf life but doenst seem to work. What should be done to eliviate the problem.

badge posted by: skiph1155 on July 03, 2012 at 6:42 am in Q & A
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reply by: cwcdesign on July 03, 2012 at 6:56 am

Eat it faster :-)

Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Homemade bread will not last as long as store bought. Some types of bread, such as sourdough, will last a day or 2 longer.

Many people will slice a loaf and then wrap and freeze it taking out only how much they need at a time. That's one way to keep bread longer.

Also, if you search the community, there are many threads that deal with what to do with the stale ends - bread crumbs, croutons, bread pudding, etc.

reply by: KAF_Frank on July 03, 2012 at 7:08 am

This may be related to the style of dough you are working with. Lean Doughs stale within a few hours, think baguettes. Enriched Doughs tend to have longer shelf life, think sandwich style loaves containing fats and dairy. Typically, I think about 4 days is "normal" for a sandwich loaf.

"Additives" can be helpful, but knowing how and when to apply them is important. These are usually quite potent ingredients. "More" is not usually better. The Baker's Hot Line would be happy to go through your inventory with you, if you need a hand. Just give us a call, 800-827-6836. Frank @ KAF.

reply by: tebiri on July 03, 2012 at 8:59 am

After mine cools slightly, I bag it and put in the fridge.

reply by: omaria on July 03, 2012 at 10:02 am

For long term use I also slice it first ,then freeze. Take out only what I need. Normally I put the bread cut side down on the cutting board and leave it on the counter. For 2 or 3 days it is just fine like that.

reply by: Mike Nolan on July 03, 2012 at 10:14 am
Mike Nolan

I put my bread in plastic bags after it has thoroughly cooled, say 12 hours. (I have not experimented with paper bread bags, because they're not easy to find.)

This keeps the bread from getting hard, but then you can have the problem of it being too moist, which can soften the crust and promote mold growth.

I usually leave the end of the bag open as opposed to closing it with a tie or folding it under. Most of my breads will stay edible for 4-5 days that way.

If I'm not going to use the bread for a few days, for example a recipe that makes 2 or more loaves, I will double bag it and freeze it.

reply by: KIDPIZZA on July 03, 2012 at 11:27 am

SKIPH 1155:
Good morning. You have received many good tips on the subject of expanding the shelf life of a yeasted lean bread before going stale. Yes, as we all know comm. bakeries employ chemicals to retard this event. We home bread baker's cannot avail ourselves to this ingredient.

Now then, simply put most likely your recipe lists as a ingredient "SUGAR". NOT A REQUIREMENT just a option. You can omit it & you should. Replace same with "HONEY". Honey attracts the moisure in the air & will help your yeasted lean bread stay fresher a day or two longer.


Post back if you have any other inquires on bread baking.

Enjoy the rest of the day.


reply by: --jej on July 03, 2012 at 11:36 am

Like omaria, I like to just leave it cut-side down on a bread board, but I usually like to put a baggie loosely over it, to keep the dust off. And maybe keep me out of it. Nothing like fresh bread just sitting there beckoning. And it doesn't seem to get very stale kept that way.

Well, hopefully there isn't too much dust there on the kitchen counter, but it does seem that dust likes to collect over a couple of days wherever it can! LOL --jej

reply by: omaria on July 03, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Jej, yes I also put something just loosely over the bread for dust or what have you.

reply by: Mike Nolan on July 03, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Mike Nolan

Putting a bag over it also tends to keep the flies off. It does NOT keep the Indian meal moth larvae and related pests away.

reply by: omaria on July 03, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Kidpizza, thanks for reminding us about not putting bread in the fridge.

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on July 03, 2012 at 2:40 pm
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

I wrap mine loosely in a flour sack cloth towel and put it inside a plastic shopping bag with the handle loosely tied.

If you can share the recipe, we can help you more.

reply by: BakingChemist on July 03, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Next time bake with 20% less flour.

The dough should be slightly sticky at the end of the kneading time. If you mix by machine, be very careful to keep the dough sticky, and then knead it by hand for the last minute. Add only enough flour to keep from sticking to the kneading surface.

Then don't overproof in the pan (45 minutes at 65F regardless of what your recipe says) and do not overbake.

reply by: Livingwell on July 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

I'm not a big honey fan, so avoid using it in baking, BUT if it will keep bread moister, I may have to try it. One question, though: can you taste it in the baked bread??

reply by: sandra Alicante on July 17, 2012 at 10:48 am
sandra Alicante

I don't like honey either but you can use malt syrup or golden syrup instead.
Or probably any other syrup you have to hand!

reply by: KIDPIZZA on July 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

Good morning. I do not taste the honey in my yeasted lean bread dinner rolls. But & however you will notice it on the top surface of cakes, loaf cakes, & muffins. It provides moisture in this type of is very very anti~staling.

As Sandra says in her post, you can employ other types of syrups. I do not know the merits of them because I have never used them for this purpose.
Hopefully if you do you will post your thoughts & results so that the membership can learn more about baking.

Good luck in your baking & enjoy the rest of the day.


reply by: MangoChutney - Sandra Too on July 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm
MangoChutney - Sandra Too

I'd been keeping mine in a sealed plastic bag, because it dried out in the winter, but when humid weather arrived the bread molded before it was all gone even if I washed the bags in dish detergent between uses. I have gone to wrapping the loaves in wax paper. They now keep until they are gone, roughly 5 days from baking. I do put in 4 ounces of yogurt and 1 tbsp of olive oil per loaf. I feel these make the bread keep longer as well as improve the texture for our purpose, which is sandwiches.

Edit: Oh, and it is sourdough bread. Whole grain sourdough bread, to be exact.

reply by: frick on July 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm

For retarding staling, honey, butter and olive oil, and dairy are your friends. Honey is hydrophillic, meaning loves water, and binds to water keeping it in the loaf.

Freeze but never use the refrigerator. You can google studies proving bread stales faster in the frig. I think this habit came about to keep critters, bugs(ants) and mold away.

I use honey, butter and milk in my sandwich bread, which we like soft and as fresh as possible. It will last for 3-4 days but still stales a bit, so I halve the loaves and freeze all but 1/2 loaf. Yogurt and sour cream are probably advantageous but I seldom use them, nor do I use commercial additives.

For lean breads, they will stale immediately so I freeze everything before going to bed that night, cutting loaves when necessary and taking out only one days usage at a time. Of course, the crust softens but will recrisp in the oven or toaster oven. Remember, French toast (or pain perdu) was an invention of necessity, French bread being inedible the day after. My DH's father brought home a baguette every evening for dinner and so they grew up on lots and lots of bread pudding.

For hearty breads, I still use honey with various grains and seeds, except when using garlic or cheese, or herbs like dill. Even then, I may use a little honey. You really won't taste it, or minimally at least, and will soon wonder why you didn't always use it.

I usually stick with sugar in sweetened breads like cinnamon rolls, panettone, brioche and holiday breads, but some old style European recipes call for honey.

reply by: sandra Alicante on July 17, 2012 at 5:49 pm
sandra Alicante

I really wish you could get waxed paper bags these days but around here, can't even find normal paper ones, let alone waxed!

reply by: Livingwell on July 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Sandra, can you get boxes of American cereal where you live (Kellogg's, General Mills, etc.)? Save the wax paper bags the cereal is in for your bread! I've heard of people that save them for bagging sandwiches for lunch.

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on July 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

Those liners aren't waxed paper anymore. They're plastic. Still might help, though.

reply by: Mike Nolan on July 18, 2012 at 2:36 am
Mike Nolan

You'll have to buy 500 at a time (for around $25 plus shipping), but here's a supplier of paper bread bags in 4 different sizes:

A few years back I got two large bags of plastic gusseted bread bags at a bakery auction, I'm down to less than a half box of them. We find things to put in them other than bread, too.

reply by: sandra Alicante on July 18, 2012 at 2:38 am
sandra Alicante

Thanks, but I shall try and source some in UK, I have friends and a son visiting soon, they can do me a favour and bring some over! (Funny how living in a nice sunny country with a guest suite and a pool, you get awfully popular! Especially when the UK weather is atrocious!)

reply by: Mike Nolan on July 18, 2012 at 2:44 am
Mike Nolan

Check with restaurant and bakery suppliers in the UK, I know I've seen bakeries in London that used paper bags for their breads, they gotta get them from somewhere!

reply by: StarisenZ on July 18, 2012 at 3:52 am

I have used a tablespoon of frozen apple juice concentrate to the dough to keep the finished bread moist for longer; specifically the part of the concentrate that does not freeze. I don't know why it works.

reply by: GinaG on July 18, 2012 at 4:07 am

Same-day lean breads do stale quicker than those made with sourdough and/or a preferment,but don't be reluctant to freeze!

I'm one who's very anti-frozen and skeptical of the freezer. I'm also a fresh bread snob, so take my word with the rest of the crowd, it will preserve freshness.

Now that I'm a solo household, freezing has become a need and a blessing, but nobody needs to let their bread stale, or throw it away if they have a freezer.

I've never tasted the 2t. of honey I use in my bread, but you'll buy some time with it and it also aids in browning the crust.

reply by: Livingwell on July 18, 2012 at 7:24 am

Hey, they sell bread bags right here at King Arthur! I've never bought them, but here is the link for the single bags (they also sell double bags and all-purpose bags):

reply by: Mrs Cindy on July 18, 2012 at 10:12 am
Mrs Cindy

All this advice is excellent, but one thing I would like to add. You mention using additives. The single reason, besides taste, that we make our own bread is to AVOID the additives in commercial bakery products. If you are going to use additives you might as well buy bread from the grocery store.

Most of us started baking our own bread because of all the chemical additives the big bakeries use. Besides the taste, variety and ability to say, "I made that!", we are trying to cook in a more healthy manner. Forget the additives. You cannot use them the way they were intended, nor should you use them at all.

Try some of these tips and you will achieve bread nirvana!


reply by: swirth on July 18, 2012 at 10:19 am

Here's an interesting article from the FAQ on the oldBakingCircle...

Staling, Causes and Prevention

reply by: --jej on July 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Want to mention that I use the Famous Burger Buns recipe for most of the breads I make, and never once has it become stale or moldy!! I turn the cut side down on the bread board (counter) and loosely hang a plastic Baggie over it. --jej

reply by: jingles54 on July 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

i purchased the expandable bread keeper from kaf and just love it! for bread- it have a vent at one end and here in pa. lately the humidity has been awful the vent keeps these in order

reply by: Mrs Cindy on July 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm
Mrs Cindy

I have one of those expandable bread keepers from KAF. Unfortunately, I haven't had really good luck with it down here in Houston. Our humidity is very high, but, for the most part everything is air conditioned. I think those must do better without the A/C.


reply by: on October 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

you are most correct, I can not go without my KA bags, but still when crusty loaf is in the bag you loose the crisp, so I freeze mine the same day, take it out the next, then sometimes put it in the oven for a few minutes, the crust is crisp and the interior still moist

reply by: skeptic7 on October 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I once made a fairly lean bread and added 1/4 cup of potato flour. It was good for 4-5 days which is longer than I expected. This was a present for a friend and she might have toasted and buttered the last few pieces which would change the report. This was a fat free bread and I honestly had expected it to be inedible by the second day.

reply by: GinaG on October 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I have no idea why I didn't mention this before, I may have on another thread for sourdough, who knows!...To extend your shelf-life for sourdough or otherwise, use bread crumbs from a former batch of bread. I'm partial to sourdough, but I've been known to make crumbs from bread made with instant yeast and added them to such bread or even sourdough crumbs and it really does both improve flavor and extend shelf-life, also renders a moister bread.