So, you’ve bought more bread than you can eat in a week because it looked so yummy sitting in the bakery or supermarket shelf. You’re not alone.
The human urge to eat copious amounts of bread is real, but once you’ve had a slice or two, you’ll begin to realize you can’t stomach it all in one go.
So, what happens if you wake up in the morning craving toast, only to find out your bread’s expiration date has already passed? Are you necessarily forced to throw it away?
Can you eat expired bread? It might surprise you to know that food doesn’t always become unsafe to eat after the expiration date. So the answer is yes: you can eat expired bread as long as it does not have mold, smell or taste weird.
Keep reading for an in depth explanation of whether or not you can eat your expired bread, how to tell if it is still good to eat, and more.
What Do Expiration Dates Really Mean?
The printed “better use by” and “sell by” dates are not mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Although, some states in the USA do require food to have these dates printed, as these dates are simply there as a guide.
With that in mind, if you’re strictly following the expiration dates, you could be throwing away perfectly good food you paid for.
There are also apps that might help guide you on individual foods, such as the FDA’s Food Keeper App, available for Apple and Android devices. You will be able to find a list of individual foods that you can generally eat past their expiration dates.
This is helpful not only for your bread cravings, but for your economy and also for the world’s food waste (did you know that roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted? Shocking).
So please keep reading, so that you do not waste perfectly good food. Of course, you should always use common sense too: sometimes food just seems off, smells funky, or looks different; in those cases, just don’t eat it and get rid of it as soon as possible.
Proper conservation of food also depends on proper handling and safety measures in all stages: when prepared, when baked, when transported and even when it gets to the supermarket’s cellars or shelves.
All those steps need to follow safety procedures to preserve food in an optimal state. Once it gets to your hands, you need to make sure you are storing your food items correctly and at proper temperatures.
Can You Eat Bread After The Printed Expiration Date?
Yes, you can. But, as you will see throughout this article, it comes with a few warnings.
Join us as we begin the journey of understanding the science behind consuming expired bread and ask ourselves if it is ever ok to eat it.
Why Does Bread Expire?
Bread goes through many processes that might degenerate its quality after it is baked. These natural transformations lead to the bread loaf losing its freshness and becoming inevitably stale.
First and foremost, the starch goes back to its original structure and the bread expels water – what makes it lose moisture and become dryer day after day.
The bread’s moisture also begins to evaporate: your bread will be drier on the outside than in the center after a few days.
Bread will also lose its acidity as the days go by. This makes it more prone for mold spores to go inside and multiply.
Can You Eat Bread A Month After The Expiration Date?
It depends on how you store it. Bread can usually stay safe for about a week past the expiration or printed date if you have it in your pantry. As long as it has no mold, funny smell or odd taste or a very different texture, it is still safe to eat.
Also, the bread loaves you buy in a store can stay fresh for up to 12 days if they are kept tightly sealed in the fridge.
Homemade bread or bakery bread, on the other hand, will only stay fresh for 5-8 days when it’s sealed and stored in the refrigerator.
If you store it in the freezer, bread could last from 3-6 months. It all will depend on the type of bread you are freezing and how it’s stored. Freezing your loaves will prevent microbes growth and extend its life.
Here is a detailed table that will guide you through the estimated shelf-life of different bread types and storage conditions.
|Store-bought bread||5-7 days||7-12 days||3 months|
|Homemade / bakery bread||3-5 days||5-8 days||3 months|
|Baked goods / Pastries||Expiration date + 2-3 days||Not recommended||Expiration date + up to 6 months|
How To Properly Store Bread To Assure Longevity
With a few simple tricks and hacks, you might extend the shelf life of your bread.
If you are a bread lover, and you can’t live without toast in your household, you definitely need to purchase a bread box (like this adorable one on Amazon).
It’s definitely the best storage option for your loaves; doesn’t matter if they are store-bought or bakery-purchased
Nevertheless, if you still don’t own a bread box, you can also store it in a sealed bag.
Your store-bought bread should be wrapped in its original packaging and closed with a bread clip (we love these easy-to-use ones on Amazon) or similar.
If your bread is homemade, or you bought it from your neighborhood bakery, you should wrap in plastic wrap and store it inside an airtight storage container (this one is specifically made for bread loaves) or zip up bag.
If you bought a lot of bread, the freezer might become your best friend! Storing bread loaves in the freezer requires additional steps. You should wrap it in cling wrap first, and the in aluminum foil.
When you have it all wrapped, store it inside an airtight container or plastic resealable freezer bag. This way, you will keep it from freezer burn and humidity.
Why Does Bakery Bread Expire Faster Than Store-Bought Bread?
The main difference is that bread that you buy in a bakery is baked every day. It’s bread that was created to be purchased and eaten every day.
Your local baker uses way less preservatives than the store-bought bread, meaning that bakery bread does not keep for as long.
You should also note that if the moisture content of the bread is high, like fruit bread, it will have an easier time developing mold and won’t last as long.
Supermarket bought bread contains more preservatives, so it can, precisely, last longer in your house’s shelf.
How To Tell If Bread Is Still Safe To Eat
One thing is sure: you don’t want to eat bread that has gone bad. Besides being unappealing, it might also be harmful for your health.
Despite all that, the good news is that, if you pay enough attention, there are many indicators that will tell you that your bread has passed its shelf-life. Let’s take a closer look.
Finding mold on a loaf of bread can be very disgusting, and it’s also very much unsafe for you. If your loaf is moldy, it should not be eaten, regardless of its color.
Why? Because bread acts just like a sponge. If mold spores are showing in one part of your loaf, they will spread throughout the entire bread. There also might be slices that grow visible mold at a slower pace.
So, if you find mold on one side of your bread, the safest thing to do is to throw it all away.
It is very probable that the rest of the bread is growing mold that you can’t see at the moment, but is already there and might cause you food poisoning.
If your bead has an odd smell, please throw it away! You should never have any unpleasant beer-like or vinegary smell coming from your loaf of bread.
You need to be very careful and trust your gut. If you are not sure if the smell is right, you better don’t take the risk.
We all know how bread should taste. If you try it, and you perceive an odd flavor, you know what to do! Please, avoid covering the funky flavor with grilled cheese or jam: it’s time to go back to the bakery, honey!
If your loaf of bread is solid as a rock, it’s also time to go bread shopping! Bread that has hardened or is dried out should be thrown away.
You need to keep one thing in mind, though: for certain bread types, it may be more difficult to discern the differences between fresh and dry than for others.
Sourdough bread is a good example: the outer shell of the bread is naturally crisp, and the inside stays mushy and soft because of the lack of yeast. It’s just a matter of paying attention to details.
What Happens If You Eat Expired Bread Without Mold?
As long as there is no mold on your bread slice, nothing happens. You can enjoy your bread without fear in a sandwich or toast.
You should take into consideration that there are several types of fungus that spoil bread, such as Rhizopus and Penicillium and eating expired bread might contain toxins produced by any of these fungi if you did not store it properly or a long time has passed since the package states it expired.
Be careful because if you consume bread with fungus in it, it could eventually lead to food poisoning, resulting in indigestion and weakening your immune system and even your respiratory system.
Our best advice, however, is to eat fresh bread whenever you can, and please try not to eat any bread that is a week past its expiration date.
What To Do With Expired Bread?
You can revive stale bread by using a toaster or the oven. If you use the toaster, you just throw it in and wait. If you choose your oven, sprinkle the bread with some water and bake it for about 6-10 minutes at 300°F.
You can also transform your recently expired bread into an entirely different meal. Here are some ideas to use your bread wisely.
Recipes You Can Cook With Expired Bread
Golden and crisp, croutons are a lovely way to make the most out of your recently expired bread. Our favorite feature is that you can make them in under 15 minutes using any bread you’d like, including stale bread.
All you need is to dice up your bread, some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. You just need to bake at 400°F, and toss every 5 minutes.
We don’t know any salad that won’t benefit from a crisp! Enjoy!
If you’re more of a visual learner, take a look at this awesome video from Andrew Zimmern on YouTube.
Breadcrumbs are a very simple way to take the most out of your recently expired bread.
If the texture seems a little off to make yourself a sandwich, you can tear the bread into pieces and bake it in the oven in a low temperature, until the pieces are completely dried out. Once you do that, put the bread pieces in a food processor.
They can be kept in the fridge for about two months and frozen for about 6 months in a plastic freezer bag. Will keep chilled for up to 2 months, or frozen for 6 months.
Bread crumbs are delicious and versatile to make breaded chicken strips, zucchini chips, and even as a mac and cheese topping.
French Onion Soup
If you’re looking for something to warm and cozy for dinner or lunch, French onion soup is your way to take the most out of your recently expired bread.
This dish features caramelized onions in a beef broth base and delicious melted cheese. It’s a combination of fluffy with a crispy crown of toasted bread.
This is one of the best uses you can get for your stale bread: a hot and filling dinner that’s both soup and bread all in one.
The best French toast is golden on the outside, and tender in the middle. It’s a perfect use for your recently expired bread. Ideally, use thicker slices of bread.
For this recipe, you will need milk, eggs, butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract and some sugar or sweetener.
Mix all the ingredients together (minus the butter) until you get a uniform mixture. Soak the bread slices in the mix and heat up a pan with butter to fry the toast up. You will love this breakfast!
This recipe is so simple that you will ask yourself why you have not done this before. Having recently expired bread will not be a problem anymore once you get going with your bread pudding recipes!
First, you will cut up your recently expired bread, then butter a baking dish. Arrange your bread cubes in the prepared dish and set aside.
Once you do that, you will need a large bowl to whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, and sugar and blend them very well. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and press them gently until they are submerged in the custard.
Then let them stand for about 30 minutes. If you do this 2 hours ahead, you can also cover and refrigerate the preparation for better results.
You need to make sure you have the right ratio of bread to custard to get the right texture.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake your mixture until you can see the pudding puff. It will take about 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and let it cool. For a perfect finish, drizzle with maple syrup and some cinnamon and enjoy.
What You Should Know
Yes, you can eat expired bread as long as it does not have mold, smell, or taste weird. Beware of food poisoning. Store your bread properly and at the right temperature.
If your expiration date passed and the texture seems inadequate for a sandwich, you can revive your bread by using a toaster or the oven. If everything else fails to work, use our delicious recipe ideas for recently expired bread.