Do you have a loaf of Zingerman’s Bakehouse bread and wonder about how to care for it? Here are some of our best suggestions for bread storage to keep your Bakehouse loaves in tip-top shape long after you’ve brought them home.
Select your loaf
If you don’t already have our bread here’s something to consider. Choose a thin loaf, like a baguette or fougasse, when you know you’re going to eat it all that day. These types of loaves have a higher ratio of crust to crumb, so they have a tendency to dry out more quickly. Want to eat your bread over several days? Choose bigger loaves with a higher ratio of crumb to crust because they have a longer shelf life. Naturally leavened loaves (sometimes known as sourdough) also keep longer than bread made with lots of commercial yeast. In general, we recommend planning to eat your loaf within a few days or freezing it if not (more on that below).
Store on the counter
Your loaf of Bakehouse bread is attractive, so display it proudly right on your kitchen counter! If you’ve cut into it rest it on the cut end to protect the inner crumb and put a paper bag over it. Not cut? It can
rest right on the counter as is or in a paper bag. If you have a bread box that works too. Our bread will be enjoyable to eat for several days stored this way. It may get hard. This doesn’t mean that it’s bad or stale. It means that some of the moisture has evaporated from it. See below for how to enjoy it.
Revive many-days-old bread
Zingerman’s Bakehouse breads may not have 9 lives but they definitely have 2! Most of our breads can be revived long after you’ve given them up for dead. Try this little science experiment: take a loaf of bread that’s been sitting unwrapped on your counter for nearly a week. Place it into a 350°F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Eat it up! You will be amazed. It will seem like a freshly baked loaf. One caveat. You can only do this once with a loaf of bread so if you can’t eat the whole thing only revive as much as you think you’ll use. Only want a slice? Cut a piece and warm it in your toaster. It will be great.
Freeze what you can’t eat
Bread freezes very well.
While we could probably chow down on a whole entire loaf of our bread, we understand if you’re not feeling quite so ambitious. If you’re not sure you can finish a whole loaf within a few days, slice it in half, double-bag one half using two freezer bags, and stick it in the ol’ ice box. When you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 350°F. Take the bread out of the freezer, remove the bags, and place the frozen, naked loaf in the preheated oven. After 40 minutes, take it out of the oven and let it rest before digging in. It’ll be good as new! If you prefer to enjoy a little bit at a time, slice your loaf before freezing. That way you can thaw a slice or two at a time in a toaster or toaster oven.
No-Nos! In Bread Storage
Avoid the fridge!
Friends don’t let friends store bread in the fridge—it dries it out and the humidity of the fridge ruins the crust! The temperature of fridges is actually the most staling temperature to hold bread. Room temperature or frozen are the best choices. So make sure you keep it out of the fridge to ensure the best flavor and texture for days to come.
Our bread and plastic don’t play well together!
We’re suckers for an extra-crusty crust. A golden, caramelized crust is where all that flavor lives! So, in order to keep your crust perfectly crisp, avoid storing your bread in a plastic bag. A paper bag, bread box, or open-air storage allows air to circulate around the loaf, meaning you get a crust with some serious integrity.
As is often the case in life, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. The first is State St. Wheat, our new naturally leavened, soft sandwich bread made with whole grain. Since we sell it sliced, it comes in a plastic bag. The second is Vollkornbrot. We sell it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to soften its crust and we suggest storing it that way, too, either on your countertop in a cool and dry environment, or refrigerated (this is the only exception to the fridge rule!) for a shelf-life easily beyond one week.
She has been an avid food lover and baker since her childhood in Nova Scotia, Canada. After high school Amy moved to Cambridge, MA and received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. She then followed her passion for food and learned to cook and bake at L’ecole de Gastronomie Francaise at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France as well as in Michigan restaurants. In 1999 she received her MBA from Columbia University.
Amy came to Zingerman’s Bakehouse when it opened in 1992 as one of the original bakers on the staff of eight. She soon became the first manager of the bread bakery, then the manager of the pastry kitchen and in 2000 she became a partner.
Amy has been working in the food world for over 20 years and is passionate about hands-on baking, teaching about baking and business, developing businesses and people. As well as teaching at BAKE! Amy presents for ZingTrain on our business practices. A few of the Bakehouse items she is personally responsible for developing are the Old School Apple Pie, Buenos Aires Brownies, and our Gingerbread Coffeecake. In addition to developing items, Amy is a promoter of classic bakery favorites from many cultures and has brought traditional standards to the Bakehouse such as Paris Brest, Hummingbird Cake, and Maple Cream Cookies.
Thanks for pointing out that keeping the loaf in a paper bag, bread box, or open-air storage will let the air flow freely and keep the crust’s integrity. I will keep that in mind and buy containers like that before I start stocking up on bread from a bakery shop that I can find. It will definitely help me with preparing breakfast every week without having to go out every morning to buy the food we need.