One of the downsides of homemade bread is that it stales very quickly – typically within a day or two. Looking at it a little more optimistically, this is because there are no chemical preservatives in the bread (which is a very good thing).
Fortunately for us, homemade bread freezes extremely well. In fact if you follow some basic rules, bread that has been frozen comes out almost as good at was to begin with. If you toast it, I doubt you’d be able to tell any difference at all – this is not to say that previously frozen bread doesn’t make great sandwiches – it does.
I always make two loaves of sandwich bread at a time and usually slice and freeze at least one of the loaves so as to always have some on-hand.
Bread storage tips
Here are two storage ideas that work very well.
Firstly, slice the bread before you freeze it. Dealing with a frozen hunk of bread is far more difficult that dealing with individual slices. Plus, it’s a lot easier to find room in the freezer for slices than loaves. Depending on the thickness of each slice, you’ll typically get about 16 slices of bread from a loaf.
1. Split the loaf into 4 “piles” of 4 slices and layer into a large (gallon size) zip-type storage bag. Expel as much air as possible and lay flat in the freezer. Frozen bread slices “break off” very easily – just remove as much as you need when you need it and return the rest to the freezer.
2. This method is great if you only use a few slices of bread per day. Using small sandwich size plastic bags, put two slices of bread in each, expel the air and freeze. This way, if you want 2 slices for toast or a sandwich, just take out one pre-prepared bag. Left on the counter top, it only takes about 30 minutes to defrost.
As long as you shake out any accumulated crumbs, you can reuse the bags too for you next batch of freezing.
How long you can store bread
Functionally, there are two types of freezer: the frost-free type and the older type that build up an ever-thickening layer of ice that eventually has to be removed. Most modern freezers are the frost-free type — which is a bit of a double-edged sword.
Although you don’t have the inconvenience of having to de-ice your freezer every couple of months, food doesn’t keep as long in this type of freezer. Here’s why: the frost-free freezer turns itself off every couple of hours and starts to warm up to melt any accumulated ice away. But in doing this, it also slightly raises the temperature of your frozen food which causes a little moisture to escape. This movement of moisture and its subsequent refreezing is what causes freezer burn.
(Have you ever wondered why ice cubes, if left for long enough in the freezer, just disappear? They literally just melt away over time!)
Moisture loss is a very bad thing for bread, so if you want fresh bread to come out of the freezer, you shouldn’t store it in there for any more than a month.