We’ve all bought a loaf of bread, only to discover three days later that you’ve completely lost track of it. Now that bread is more expensive than ever, according to Eurostat, it is perhaps important to know how to keep that (stale) bread edible for longer. Is it best to buy a cut or uncut copy? And is the freezer really such a good idea as is sometimes claimed? Bakker Toon De Klerck explains.
“How long a loaf of bread stays good depends on various factors”, Toon De Klerck begins. “For example, you can use many preparations in powder or paste form in bread. These are enzymes that are added or E numbers that are full of synthetic material to make the color and the smell look nicer. Such bread will remain fresh for about four days. But the question is whether you want that. You can also choose to buy an artisanal bread made with no more than four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. And make no mistake: such a loaf of bread will stay good for at least two or even three days.”
Cut or uncut?
The ingredients of the bread are therefore one factor that determines how long your bread remains edible. Does cutting the bread also help with this? “If you don’t have it cut, it will keep for longer,” says baker De Klerck. “After all, no air can get in then, which is good for preserving freshness. Yet in my business I see that barely 5 percent of customers do not have a loaf of bread cut. It is simply much more practical and easier to have the baker do it than to get the bread knife at home.”
What is the best way to store bread at home?
Cutting the bread yourself at home is therefore a step in the right storage direction. At least, if you want to eat it right away. “If you want to keep the bread in the freezer, you’re better off putting it in the freezer in individually wrapped slices. For example, you can divide the sliced bread into two or three slices and put it in a bag. If you need the frozen slices, just take them out the night before and it will be ready for breakfast. And don’t panic: that bread will taste exactly the same as when you buy it fresh.”
Always store bread in the paper bread bag that you get from the bakery. It contains paraffin, which prevents air from reaching the bread and keeps it fresh longer.
Toon De Klerck
If you don’t put the bread in the freezer, it’s best to keep it in the bread bag it came in when you bought it. “That bread bag is designed to keep the bread fresh. After all, a standard bread bag from the baker is made of paper with a layer of paraffin on it, so that no air can get to the bread. Feel free to put it to the test by storing your bread in an ordinary paper bag without paraffin, you will immediately notice the difference.”
Oops: lost sight of bread, now what?
Of course we sometimes lose sight of that bread bag. What if you still want to eat the bread after a day or two? Can you make it fresher? “It’s a good idea to put it in the oven then, provided it’s a loaf of bread that hasn’t been sliced yet. If it is a sliced bread, the oven will extract the moisture from the bread and it will almost become toast. You just have to put an ordinary, unsliced loaf in the oven for five minutes and then even the crust will become crispy again.”
Not every old bread can be saved, although that doesn’t mean you have to throw it away. The baker also sees many possibilities there. “The traditional things such as French toast or lost bread and bread pudding are always recommended, they are real classics. Do you have any stale white bread left over? Then use it in your meatloaf or fricandon.”
You can also easily make croutons from old bread for in a soup or in a salad.
Toon De Klerck
“You can also easily make croutons from old bread, for example in soup or in a salad. You fry them in olive oil or butter to make them crispy. Then store them in a sealed jar in the kitchen until you want to use them. Do not keep them in the refrigerator. Then the croutons absorb moisture and become limp. By the way, the Italian chef Massimo Bottura has created the book ‘Bread is gold’, full of recipes with bread. Ideal against (bread) waste.”
No more lost bread
Not only the bakers, but also the department stores think about their customers. In some supermarkets you see that stale bread is offered at a reduced price after one day. Will we soon see this in the bakery? And how does such a craftsman deal with a surplus of bread? “A good idea,” says master baker De Klerck. “This is an interesting option, especially for those less fortunate.”
“I’ve already thought about it myself, but a large part of the leftover bread already goes to a social grocer. In our case The Springboard. It is immediately frozen there. People who are less fortunate can get a cheaper bread there that is sliced and frozen. In any case, it is certainly an option to think about further in the long term.”
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