The Best Ways to Freeze Bread—Plus, Tips on How to Thaw Loaves and Slices and Avoid Freezer Burn
There's nothing quite like a fresh loaf of bread. Whether you get one from your local market or bake it from scratch using the oven or a bread maker, slathering a few slices with butter and jam can make for a comforting snack. When you want to preserve the rest of the loaf, however, you'll need to make sure it is frozen properly.
The first rule of thumb? Freeze the freshest bread you have. If you've just baked your own loaf or purchased it warm, make sure you allow it to cool before putting leftovers into the ice box to avoid soggy bread or mold. Ultimately, freezing bread is the best way to extend the life of your loaf for anything from days to months—here's how to do just that, according to chefs and baking experts.
How to Freeze Bread Using Plastic Wrap
Store-bought and homemade bread should freeze well, says Lisa Brooks, the chef and owner of Heart & Soul, a personal chef service. Her go-to method involves encasing the bread in two layers of plastic wrap and storing the loaf in a resealable plastic freezer bag.
Chef Max Boonthanakit of the modern French bistro Camphor in Los Angeles, also follows this method. He notes that "sourdoughs and simple breads that are only flour, salt, and water store extremely well in the freezer," while "breads that include dairy and eggs seem to degrade in quality after being frozen." Dairy- and egg-containing loaves can wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen just like simple breads, but he says they would be better used for a preparation like bread pudding or stuffing when they are thawed, as opposed to sandwiches or toast.
How to Freeze Sliced Bread
Drew Gimma, the director of operations for Bread Man Baking Co. in Houston, Texas, recommends slicing bread before you freeze it, "so you can thaw just as much as you need and not the whole loaf," he says. "After slicing, place slices in a plastic bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing or tying shut." You can also wrap all the slices together in plastic wrap, before placing them in a resealable plastic bag, for extra protection from freezer burn.
How to Avoid Bread Freezer Burn and Identify Spoilage
While bread will not spoil in the freezer, you will see a loss of quality over time. "Typically, bread should maintain its quality in the freezer for up to two months, but that can vary depending on its moisture content, how fresh the bread is before going into the freezer, and how often you are going in and out of the freezer," Gimma says.
Freezer burn is the main issue to avoid, and is caused by air getting into the surrounding storage bag. If you see large ice crystals inside of your wrapping, the texture or taste of the bread has been compromised. Should the bread start to smell like other items in your freezer during the thawing process—or it becomes crumbly or breaks apart—it likely is past its prime, Brooks says.
How to Defrost Bread
Gimma says defrosting a loaf of bread is simple—just take it out of the freezer and defrost it at room temperature until it is no longer ice cold. Then, refresh the loaf and return it to near-fresh quality by reheating it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees; take it out when the the bread is warmed through.
If you're defrosting slices, as opposed to an entire or partial loaf, pop them into your toaster after they reach a normal temperature. As with other foods, avoid refreezing bread to avoid further changes in texture and taste.