Whether you’ve bought it from the store or baked it yourself, keeping your sourdough bread fresh for as long as possible can be a challenge. Luckily, there are different ways to store sourdough bread to maintain its texture and flavour, and with the right storage method, the good news is that you can enjoy your bread for several days (and even months). Over the last few months, we have embarked on an experiment to find the best way to store sourdough bread. And in this article, we’ll explore the most effective ways to store both store-bought and homemade sourdough bread, including how to store it at room temperature, how to freeze it, and ways to refresh it.
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What Sourdough Bread Is All About?
Sourdough bread is a type of bread made from natural yeast instead of commercial yeast. This wild yeast gives rise to the dough and the good bacteria work hard in the fermentation process to give sourdough bread its unique flavour. Homemade sourdough bread is becoming increasingly popular. Not only is it delicious but it also offers health benefits that are not found in other types of bread.
Making your own sourdough bread at home is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the delicious taste and tangy flavour of your own sourdough, but you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you made it from scratch using your own sourdough starter. Additionally, making homemade sourdough bread is a great way to reduce your dependency on commercial yeast.
Since making this artisan bread requires high energy consumption (and it isn’t cheap) and hard work (although we think of it as a labour of love), we like to bake multiple sourdough loaves simultaneously. So whether you have homemade bread or store-bought bread, it is handy to know how to store it for maximum freshness.
Basic Sourdough Bread Storage Tips
There is no one magic right way to store sourdough bread. A range of factors, like the length of time you want to keep your bread, humidity and climate, and even the type of flour used can affect the best place to store your sourdough loaves, but here are a few common tips that will ensure the prolonged shelf life of sourdough bread.
- Cool sourdough bread on a wire rack (not a cutting board). Cooling sourdough bread on a wire rack allows air circulation around the bread, which helps to prevent condensation from forming and the bread from becoming soggy. When the bread is taken out of the oven, it is still hot and continues to cook, which can cause moisture to build up on the bottom of the bread if it is placed on a flat surface. This can result in a soggy, unappetizing crust.
- Let the bread cool completely before slicing it or putting it away for storage. When sourdough bread is baked, lots of moisture is trapped inside of the bread, and the heat continues to cook the bread even after it is removed from the oven. Allowing the bread to cool at room temperature helps to evenly distribute the moisture within the bread, which improves its texture and flavour. Slicing warm bread can cause the bread to lose moisture and become dry and stale more quickly. Moreover, storing warm bread can cause condensation to form inside the storage container, leading to mould growth and spoilage.
- Store your sourdough bread cut side down: if you are storing unsliced bread, it is a good idea to keep it cut side down. This way, the flat surface underneath protects the moisture from escaping from your loaf, whilst the crust acts as a barrier from the dry air.
- Consider humidity levels in the environment: Choose a dry place to store your sourdough bread. Whether it is on the kitchen counter away from direct sunlight, or in a dark cool cupboard, it is a good idea to check the humidity levels in the environment. High humidity can cause moisture to build up on the bread’s surface, making it damp and soggy. Furthermore, it can also create an ideal environment for mould growth, which can cause the bread to spoil quickly.
How To Store Sourdough Bread?
There is nothing better than a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread. Unfortunately, it is always best enjoyed on the first day, when the crumb is moist and the crust is crispy. However, with the right storage methods, you can enjoy fresh-tasting bread for a longer period of time (unfortunately no longer than 3-5 days). In this section, we discuss the best methods to keep your sourdough and other types of bread fresh for longer.
At Room Temperature
When it comes to storing sourdough bread at room temperature, there are several options to choose from. The best choice depends on your personal preference and the amount of time you want to keep your bread fresh and the climate and humidity of the environment you store it in. Here in North Wales, UK, the humidity levels vary quite considerably from season to season, but it can get really quite damp in the winter months.
The rule of thumb is, if you live in a humid environment, you will need a storage solution that keeps your sourdough from going damp to prevent it from moulding. But if you live in a dry environment, your storage solution should keep the bread from drying out. Overall, we found that a plastic bag worked best in the dry months, and a bread box (bread bin), a paper bag or a cloth bread bag were the best options for more humid months.
Here are all the options that will work for storing your sourdough to keep it fresh.
1. Plastic Bag
A plastic bag is a simple and easy way to store sourdough bread, but it comes with a couple of caveats. The plastic can trap moisture and make the bread go stale faster if you place your sourdough loaf in it before cooling it properly or if your loaf of bread is slightly undercooked. However, if you live in an extremely dry environment, a sealed plastic bag will be the best solution to keep your sourdough bread from drying out.
2. Brown Paper Bag
If you are not concerned about high humidity levels in the environment sourdough is stored in, a brown paper bag is a good option for short-term storage. It allows the bread to breathe while still protecting it from dust and debris.
3. Linen Bag
A linen bread bag or cloth bag is a great choice for storing sourdough bread. The natural fibres of the linen allow the bread to breathe, while still protecting it from moisture and dust.
4. Beeswax Wrap
Beeswax wraps are a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap. They work well for storing sourdough bread, but make sure to wrap the bread tightly to prevent air from getting in. To use beeswax wrap, tightly place your bread in the wrap, and the warmth of your hands will mould the wrap to fit around the whole thing.
5. Bread Box/ Bread Bin
Bread boxes are a classic option for storing sourdough bread. It keeps the bread out of direct sunlight and allows for air circulation, which can help maintain its freshness. However, if you live in an extremely dry climate, your bread may benefit from being wrapped in a kitchen towel before being placed in the bread bin.
6. Tea Towel
Wrapping a loaf of sourdough bread in a clean tea towel can help keep it fresh. It works similarly to a cloth bag: the fabric allows the bread to breathe but provides a level of protection from moisture in the surrounding air. Make sure the tea towel is clean and dry to prevent any mould growth.
7. Aluminum Foil
Aluminium foil can be used to wrap a loaf of bread for short-term storage. Whilst it does protect the bread from drying out, it is not convenient having to wrap the bread in and out of the tin foil, as it can tear easily. What is more, if wrapped well, it can trap moisture and make the bread go stale faster, as it doesn’t allow for any air circulation. We would only recommend this storage method if you live in a dry climate.
8. Plastic Wrap/ Cling Film
Similarly to foil, a couple of layers of plastic wrap will seal in the moisture of the sourdough loaves, but it may not be the most sustainable or convenient way to store your sourdough. However, if cling film is all you have, it may be an effective way to store your bread.
9. Dutch Oven
Storing a loaf of sourdough bread inside a Dutch oven can help maintain its freshness in the short term. We found that if we bake the bread a day before we want to serve it, placing a cooled loaf of sourdough bread in the Dutch oven with a fitted lid is a great way to store it overnight. The lid of the Dutch oven helps to trap moisture and keep the bread from drying out. However, make sure the bread has cooled completely before placing it inside the Dutch oven and dry the Dutch oven thoroughly after you take the bread out the next day.
How Long Will Sourdough Bread Last At Room Temperature?
Fresh sourdough bread will typically keep at room temperature for 2-4 days. However, the exact shelf life can vary depending on factors such as the humidity levels and air circulation in your kitchen. To ensure your bread stays fresh for as long as possible, store it in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight and moisture as discussed above.
In The Freezer
Freezing sourdough will become your favourite way to extend the shelf life of your sourdough bread, particularly if you don’t plan on finishing it for more than a couple of days. When freezing bread, it is important to ensure that the bread is sealed tightly to avoid freezer burn, which can cause the bread to dry out and lose its flavour. To avoid freezer burn, you can wrap the bread in plastic wrap or aluminium foil before placing it in the Ziploc bag. The shelf life of your sourdough bread can be extended for up to three months when stored this way. When ready to eat, simply take the bread out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature before reheating it in the oven or toaster.
1. Freezing Slices of Sourdough Bread
Freezing sliced sourdough is by far, the most convenient and effective way to store your bread for easy access and availability. Once cooled, slice the loaf into individual slices and arrange them in a freezer bag. Make sure to squeeze out as much air out of the bags as possible before sealing. Place the bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can place the frozen slices directly into the toaster to defrost and toast. It will taste just like fresh bread on the day of baking! Please note, that you can wipe the freezer bags clean and reuse them time and time again.
2. Freezing Whole Loaf
If you want to freeze an entire sourdough loaf, start by allowing the bread to cool completely. Once the bread has cooled, wrap the entire loaf in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Next, place the wrapped loaf in a freezer Ziplock bag, making sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing the bag. This will help to prevent ice crystals from forming on the bread and ensure its freshness when you’re ready to eat it. You can store entire loaves of bread in the freezer for longer periods of time. When you’re ready to enjoy your bread, remove it from the freezer and defrost it in the fridge for a few days or on the counter overnight. Once the bread has thawed completely, you can store it on the countertop using one of the methods above.
How Long Will Sourdough Bread Keep in the Freezer?
We find that sourdough bread keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 months. After that, it starts losing its unique texture and doesn’t taste fresh enough or have enough moisture when thawed.
How To Refresh Old Sourdough?
If your sourdough bread has gone stale or lost its texture, there’s no need to throw it away just yet. You can easily refresh it with a few simple steps. First, preheat your oven to 180°C. Then, lightly sprinkle some water over the surface (or use a spray bottle) to rehydrate it. Next, place the bread directly on the oven rack and bake it for 5-8 minutes, or until the crust has regained some of its crispness. Take the bread out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. This simple process will bring your sourdough bread back to life and restore its delicious flavour and texture.
Note that this method only works with uncut sourdough loaves that have been stored at room temperature or thawed after freezing. To refresh sliced sourdough, simply pop the slices in a toaster!
Sourdough Bread Storage FAQs
Can I Store Sourdough Bread in the Fridge?
The short answer is NO. While it’s possible, it’s not the best way to store it for optimal results. The dry air inside the fridge can cause the bread to become very hard and stale more quickly than if it was stored at room temperature. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid storing baked sourdough bread in the fridge for the best results and to prevent ending up with stale bread.
How To Make The Crisp Crust of Sourdough Bread Last Longer?
Since crispy crust and tangy flavour are the two signature attributes of good sourdough bread, the right way of storing it should retain these qualities, right? Generally speaking, sourdough bread with a higher hydration level tends to maintain its crisp crust for a longer period of time compared to a loaf with lower hydration. If you’re looking to store your sourdough bread, the best option is to keep it on the kitchen counter, wrapped in a tea towel or a linen bread bag. This method allows the bread to breathe, which helps to preserve its texture and prevent it from going stale too quickly.
What To Do With Leftover Sourdough Bread?
Toasted slices of sourdough bread with butter and ham are a great choice for breakfast. Sourdough makes a wonderful sidekick to soups and stews. But what are some other easy ways to use up sourdough bread? Here are a few things that we love:
- Sourdough French Toast (recipe coming soon)
- Sourdough Croutons (recipe coming soon)
- Welsh Rarebit