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😙🤪😊 Freezing fresh bread can help preserve it until you're ready to use it. For this reason, many people buy in bulk and freeze loaves of bread, either to capitalize on a great deal at the store or to ensure that fresh bread is always on hand. Sliced bread can be defrosted quite easily, while whole breads (like baguettes, sourdough loaves, or focaccia loaves) should be defrosted more carefully. Learning how to store, freeze, and defrost loaves of bread can help keep your bread fresh, crisp, and delicious.
Part 1Part 1 of 3:Defrosting Sliced Bread
- 1Thaw out as many slices as you'll need. If you're only going to use a portion of your sliced bread, it's best to defrost that portion only. Thawing out an entire loaf of sliced bread when you only need a few slices will require you to either consume the rest of the loaf or refreeze it.
- Refreezing bread repeatedly can dry the bread out, making it hard and/or stale.
- Set aside as many slices as you'll need to defrost and save the rest in the freezer.
- If the slices are stuck together, you can try using a clean fork or knife to gently pry them apart.
- 2Arrange the slices on a microwave-safe plate. Take the slices you've chosen to defrost and arrange them on a plate. Most permanent kitchen dinnerware is safe to microwave; if you're not sure, check the bottom of the plate, as manufacturers will stamp some kitchenware as being microwave safe.
- Do not cover the bread. Simply arrange your slices on a plate with a little space in between each slice.
- Some bakers recommend wrapping frozen bread in a paper towel before microwaving.
- Make sure the plate can safely be microwaved.
- Avoid using disposable plates or anything made of plastic.
- 3Use a microwave to warm the frozen slices. While most loaves of bread will not defrost well in the microwave, sliced bread can be microwaved effectively. As the bread thaws, the starch molecules in each slice will form crystals, which can draw out any moisture that was previously in the bread (called retrogradation). Using a microwave allows the crystals to break down inside the slices of bread so that each piece is soft and warm.
- Set the microwave on high power.
- Heat the sliced bread in your microwave for increments of 10 seconds. Check on the slices after 10 seconds before adding more time in the microwave.
- It should not take more than 15 to 25 seconds for most microwaves to defrost sliced bread. However, there may be some variance in defrost time, depending on your particular microwave.
- Do not microwave bread for longer than a minute, as this will probably overheat it. Make sure the bread isn't too hot before eating.
- Be aware that microwaving bread is likely to make it either overly chewy or hard and stale. This is because the bread loses its water content as the microwave turns that water into vapor, which leaves the bread.XResearch source
- 4Heat up frozen slices of bread in a toaster oven. If you don't have a microwave or would rather not use one, you can defrost frozen bread in a toaster oven. This method may not work well for whole loaves of bread, though, so it's best to only use toaster ovens for slices of bread.
- Adjust the setting to "defrost" or "frozen" to warm up sliced bread from the freezer.
- As always, make sure the bread hasn't gotten too hot while toasting.
Part 2Part 2 of 3:Defrosting Bread Loaves
- 1Leave the bread out at room temperature. If you don't have access to an oven or simply don't need the bread right away, you can let it thaw at room temperature. The time it takes to defrost will vary, depending on the size and thickness of the loaf. You can check the inside by cutting off a slice once it seems like it's finished defrosting, or gently squeeze the loaf to see how soft it is.
- Take the frozen loaf out of the freezer.
- Leave the loaf in the freezer bag and set it out on the kitchen counter.
- At room temperature, it can take up to three or four hours for a loaf of bread to fully defrost.
- When it's ready, it will be thawed out but may not be very warm. The crust may also lose its crispness, and if the bread was very moist it could become soggy or stale.
- Defrosting the bread in an oven is considered a superior method by many bakers.
- 2Use an oven to thaw out frozen bread. Using an oven is much quicker and more efficient than thawing at room temperature. It will also give you a nice, warm loaf that will taste and feel like it's just been freshly baked.XResearch source
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 175 degrees Celsius).
- Take the bread out of the freezer and remove any plastic bags and other wrappings it may have been stored in.
- Put the still-frozen loaf on the middle rack of the oven.
- Set a timer for 40 minutes. This should be enough time for the bread to thaw and warm from crust to center.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes until it cools to room temperature.
- 3Soften a hard, crusty loaf of bread. Whether you've defrosted your bread at room temperature or in an oven, you may find yourself left with a stale or crusty loaf of bread. Do not worry, though, as this bread can easily be brought back to its previous crisp, delicious condition.XResearch source
- Get the loaf only mildly wet with clean, cold water. You can briefly swipe the loaf under a running tap, or wet a clean paper towel and dab the loaf until it is dampened.
- Wrap the damp loaf of bread in aluminum foil. Make sure the aluminum foil is wrapped tightly to ensure that no moisture escapes.
- Set the wrapped loaf on the middle rack in the oven. Make sure the oven hasn't been preheated, as you want the bread to warm gradually.
- Set the oven's temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (about 150 degrees Celsius).
- Smaller loaves (like baguettes and rolls) should be finished in about 15 to 20 minutes, while larger, thicker loaves may take upwards of 30 minutes.
- Take out the loaf, unwrap the foil, and put the unwrapped loaf back in the oven for an additional five minutes for a perfect crust.
- Be aware that this method will only make a stale loaf soft for a few hours or less. Try to eat your bread within that time frame or it may get crusty and stale again.
- 4Rejuvenate the crust on a thawed loaf of bread. Whether a humid day has ruined your crust or the freezing process has left you with an undesirable crust, you can easily restore the crust back to its former condition with just a few minutes in the oven. Keep a close eye on the bread so it doesn't burn and it should be back to a delicious, crisp loaf in no time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Unwrap the thawed-out loaf of bread and set it in the oven. Putting the bread directly on the oven rack will give you a crisper crust, but you can use a baking sheet if you prefer.
- Set a timer for five minutes, and let the loaf heat up inside the oven.
- After five minutes, promptly remove the loaf from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before you attempt to cut the bread. Cutting the bread while it's too warm can make it difficult to get a clean slice.
Part 3Part 3 of 3:Ensuring Quality Through Proper Storage
- 1Know the average shelf life of bread. Bakery and sliced/packaged bread will both keep in the freezer for similar time frames. However, freezing bread after the expiration date has passed can negatively impact the quality of the bread. If you've been refrigerating your bread, it may not be in good enough shape to freeze it once you reach the expiration date.XResearch source
- Bakery bread is typically good for two or three days after the printed expiration date if stored in the pantry, but expired bread that's been refrigerated will not last.
- Packaged (sliced) bread can be good for up to seven days past the expiration date if kept in the pantry, but if refrigerated it should not be eaten past the printed date.
- Properly stored and frozen bread, whether from a bakery or packaged,should keep for up to six months in the freezer.
- 2Use high-quality freezer bags. Freezer bags tend to be made with slightly thicker plastic than regular sandwich or storage bags, and they are designed to help prevent freezer burn. Using high-quality freezer bags can help ensure that your bread stays as fresh as possible. You can purchase freezer bags at most grocery stores.
- Put the loaf inside a freezer bag. Squeeze out any air inside the bag and wrap it tightly before sealing the bag.
- Take the wrapped and sealed loaf and place it inside a second freezer bag. Double bagging the loaf will help minimize any decline in quality.XResearch source
- 3Freeze a loaf properly to ensure its quality remains. The best way to ensure your bread is as fresh as possible when you defrost it is by making sure you freeze it properly. With proper temperature and storage conditions, your bread should emerge from the freezer in good condition.
- Try to freeze the loaf as soon after you've purchased it as possible to ensure that the bread does not become moldy, soggy, or stale before you freeze it.
- Make sure your freezer is set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) to ensure that the bread stays as cold as possible to prevent decay.
- Write the freezing date on the bag so you know how long it's been in the freezer. If you freeze multiple loaves of bread, put the freshest ones in the back so that the older loaves get eaten sooner.
- Leave the bread in your freezer until you're ready to use it. Avoid exposing the bread to any significant temperature fluctuations.
- Try to avoid bagging and freezing bread on humid days. Humidity can cause a loaf of bread to get soft or even damp.
- 4Store your bread the right way before and after freezing. Whether you have not yet frozen a loaf of bread or have recently defrosted a loaf, it's important to store it correctly. Proper storage will help prolong the quality of the bread and ensure that it is still in good shape when you reach for it next.
- It's best not to store bread in the refrigerator. While the cool temperature can help prevent mold from growing, it can also dry out your bread prematurely.
- Crusty breads and rolls keep best when stored in a paper bag and eaten within a day of baking. These breads may not survive the freezing process as well as a heartier loaf of bread.
- Regular loaves should be kept at room temperature.
- Keep regular loaves of bread in a bread bag, plastic bag, or bread box with adequate ventilation.
- 5Use frozen bread in a timely manner. Bread will stay relatively fresh in the freezer, but it will not stay good indefinitely. Even frozen bread has a finite shelf life, and should be eaten within a few weeks of freezing (if possible).
- Some bakers recommend using frozen bread within three months. Other bakers recommend using a frozen loaf of bread within one month.
- The biggest factors in determining whether your bread will keep in the freezer for a month or three months are the type of bread you've frozen, the conditions you stored it in prior to freezing, and whether the bread was kept at a stable temperature while frozen.
- Leaving a loaf frozen in your freezer for too long, or subjecting the frozen loaf to drastic temperature fluctuations, can have a negative impact on the bread's quality.
- QuestionWhat's the best way to defrost your average store-bought bread? I love Nature's Own Honey Wheat bread but I don't know how to thaw it.Community AnswerJust leave it out for a while (like a few hours) before you eat the sandwich or burger.
- QuestionHow long is it safe to keep defrosted bread out?Community AnswerAssuming there are no eggs in the bread, a day would be fine. But for future reference, it is always best to defrost frozen items in a fridge overnight.
- QuestionWhat can I do with frozen bread if it is dried out?Community AnswerUsing a spray bottle, spray a small amount of water on it and bake it in a 375 degree oven until a crust is formed on the outside and it is soft and steamy on the inside.
- QuestionMy thawed bread turned crusty, can I soften it again?Community AnswerYou could. Take a spray bottle and spray water on the bread. Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees until golden brown (the outside should be crusty, but the inside should be warm and soft).
- QuestionWhen bread thawed, do you have to eat it right away? Will it get moldy sooner? Is it best to leave in refrigerator and only take out what you need?Top AnswererYou don't have to eat it right away, but it will get moldy sooner (even in the fridge). Just keep an eye on it and try to use it quickly. If you have a large amount that you don't think you'll get through within a week or so, try making a recipe that calls for lots of bread, such as bread and butter pudding.
- QuestionCan I toast it after defrosting?Top AnswererYes, you certainly can. Many people prefer to toast or at least heat defrosted bread, because it can have an odd texture otherwise.
- QuestionMy bread always sags a lot during baking. Why?Top AnswererBaking is a fine science and there could be many reasons why. The two most common reasons for this, however, are using too much yeast, and allowing the dough to rise for too long before you place it in the oven. Try using a little less yeast (and check that you are converting between kinds of yeast properly - active dry yeast, cake yeast, and instant yeast, etc are all different). If that doesn't help, cut back on the amount of time you let the dough rise before you put it in the oven.
- Make sure you store your bread properly before, during, and after freezing to ensure that the loaf does not decline in quality.
Things You'll Need
- Bread loaves
- Plastic bags
- Masking tape (optional)
- Aluminum foil
- Microwave or toaster with defrost setting (optional)
About This Article
To defrost frozen bread while keeping it fresh and crisp, thaw only as many slices as you plan to use right away. Put the slices on a microwave-safe plate and leave them uncovered. Or, if you like, wrap a paper towel around them to help retain moisture. Microwave the slices on high for 10 seconds at a time until they are completely defrosted. Don’t microwave the bread for more than 1 minute, or it will start to become chewy and stale. Alternatively, put the slices in a toaster oven and heat them up for a few minutes on the “defrost” or “frozen” setting. If you want to defrost an entire loaf at once, the easiest method is to leave the bread out at room temperature for a few hours. However, the crust may be a little soggy once it thaws. Another option is to unwrap the loaf and put it on a baking sheet, then put it in an oven that’s been preheated to 350° F (175° C). Leave the bread in the oven for 40 minutes, then take it out and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to cool. Keep reading to learn how to defrost loaves of bread!
Reader Success Stories
- "My husband & I have different preferences when it comes to bread. We have wasted so much bread, especially in the summer, because we did not realize it was so easy to store bread. Now we're able to try a variety without worrying that it will go stale or mold. Thanks for the great info."..." more