Can You Freeze Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread is highly unique and, if you enjoy it, the thought of allowing a single slice to go to waste may create a small sense of panic in your heart.
If you’ve purchased multiple loaves from your favorite bakery or baked a few homemade loaves of sourdough bread yourself, the next question on your mind is figuring out your long-term storage option.
Can you freeze sourdough bread? Yes, you can freeze sourdough bread by the loaf or the slice. You may want to wrap the bread in multiple layers and store it in a tightly-sealed freezer bag for best results. Sourdough bread will stay fresh for up to 6 months and may even develop a richer flavor after freezing.
Rest assured, freezing sourdough bread is a great storage option. Plus, your bread may even become more delicious when you defrost it than when you froze it to begin with.
In this article, we’ll outline the best practices for freezing sourdough bread and share a few tips for enjoying it after it’s been frozen.
Can Sourdough Bread be Frozen?
Freezing is a great way to preserve any kind of bread, including sourdough bread.
If the proper instructions are followed, any type of sourdough bread, whether you bought it from the supermarket, made it yourself, or found it at an artisanal bakery, will keep fresh much longer if frozen than with any other storage options.
Sourdough bread is unique in that the yeast is wild and will remain active even when it is frozen, only to a very minute degree. This will allow the flavor to continue to develop in your freezer without risk of the bread itself spoiling or going moldy.
Many sourdough bakers find that the flavor of sourdough improves over time in their freezer, so it is a great idea to make multiple loaves to freeze for future use.
How to Freeze Sourdough Bread
How you freeze your sourdough bread will depend on a few factors:
- How long are you planning on freezing it for?
- Is it a whole loaf, a sliced loaf, or a partially cut loaf of bread?
If you only need to freeze your freshly baked sourdough loaf for a few days or weeks, you can place it inside a freezer-safe Ziploc bag with as much air removed as possible.
When freezing, be sure to place it where it won’t be crushed, especially until it’s frozen solid.
If you want to freeze your sourdough bread for longer-term storage, taking a few extra steps will protect the quality of your bread.
Try these simple extra tips:
- Make sure your sourdough bread is completely cooled to room temperature.
- Wrap the entire loaf of bread in plastic wrap.
- Create a second layer of protection by next wrapping your bread in aluminum foil, making sure all the openings are tightly closed.
- For absolute best protection, place the plastic-wrapped, foil-wrapped loaf of bread into a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag and seal it tight.
- Write the date on the bag so that you always know how long it has been in the freezer.
This method for freezing sourdough bread works best if the loaf is whole, but the steps listed above will also work perfectly well for a loaf that has been cut, though not sliced.
How to Freeze Slices of Sourdough Bread
If you have baked or bought sourdough bread and sliced the entire loaf, you may still want to freeze it for long-term storage.
Your best solution in this case is to freeze individual serving sizes or pieces of bread so that you don’t have to defrost the entire loaf every time you want a sandwich.
The best way to freeze sliced sourdough bread is to place 1 or 2 slices into sandwich-sized Ziploc bags and seal them tightly. They are perfectly sized so that there won’t be a lot of gaps or space for air to get trapped.
Sandwich bags aren’t usually freezer-safe, however, so once they’re individually contained, place all your smaller sandwich bags into a larger freezer bag for added protection.
An alternative method to freezing individual slices of sourdough bread is to spread them out in a single layer on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
If you have more than a single layer, cover the bottom layer with plastic wrap and then add another layer on top. Let the individual pieces of bread freeze thoroughly, a process that should take no longer than 1 hour.
Once they’re frozen individually you can place them all into a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag and they won’t stick together.
When you want a few slices, you can remove only as many pieces of bread as you need, leaving the rest to stay safely frozen so that the quality isn’t compromised.
How Long Will Frozen Sourdough Last?
If you freeze your sourdough in nothing but a plastic bag, the quality will start to degrade after a few weeks.
If the bag is not properly air-tight, you may also get some ice crystals forming on your bread that can alter the taste and texture when it defrosts. It’s very important that you carefully seal your bread bag when you’re freezing sourdough.
If you’ve double-wrapped your bread as suggested and the seal is airtight, it should last for several months safely in your freezer. Try to eat it within 6 months.
How to Defrost Sourdough Bread
There are a couple of ways you can defrost or thaw your frozen sourdough bread.
1. If you’re in a hurry, you can bring it up to room temperature in your oven.
Make sure you unwrap and remove any plastic wrap before placing it in your oven at a low temperature, approximately 200 F. Allow it to warm for up to 30 minutes, depending on your loaf size, and it should be as good as fresh-baked in no time.
2. You can also allow your sourdough bread to defrost in your fridge.
Leave it carefully wrapped and sealed so that no moisture can form on the bread due to condensation from the temperature differences. Once it is completely thawed, you can remove the wrapping and eat any way you’d like.
3. If you have frozen slices of sourdough bread, you can thaw them by toasting as well. Place the frozen slices of bread straight into your toaster or toaster oven and they will taste freshly baked when they’re toasted.
Can You Refreeze Sourdough Bread?
It is almost never recommended that you refreeze any food. The quality, texture, and flavor will be compromised more noticeably, and there is a greater chance that your bread will spoil.
If you have frozen sourdough bread dough and then baked your bread, the newly baked loaf can be frozen. However, if you freeze a fully baked loaf of bread, once it is thawed it should not be refrozen.
This is why freezing in individual portion sizes is a good idea if you don’t think you’ll use the entire loaf of bread all at once. You can defrost only what you need this way.
Storing Sourdough Bread
Many people store their bread in the fridge to try to keep it fresh longer, but this doesn’t work well, especially for sourdough.
Your refrigerator is a very dry environment, full of aromas and airborne flavors. Sourdough bread is much more likely to get hard and dry when it’s stored in the fridge, and may even develop an off-taste.
It’s best to store sourdough bread in a cool, dark location wrapped lightly to protect it from exposure to the air, moisture, and potential bacteria that can cause mold.
Bread boxes are perfect for this – they were literally designed to keep bread fresh for as long as possible without freezing the loaf.
If you don’t have a bread box, find a place on your countertop or pantry that isn’t next to fruit or vegetables and store it in a cloth bag if possible.
Fruits and vegetables sometimes release an enzyme that causes other fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly when exposed. If your sourdough is exposed to it, it may spoil more quickly and/or pick up the flavors of the nearby fruits and vegetables.
The wild yeast in sourdough naturally protects your bread from bacteria better than a standard loaf of bread, so if stored carefully it should last at least 3–5 days with great freshness.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter?
Yes, you can freeze sourdough starter if you want to take a break from culturing it. Freezing your starter will not kill your yeast or bacteria, but it will dramatically slow their activity, sending them into a near dormant state.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Dough?
Many people worry that freezing yeast will kill it, making it ineffective when thawed and baked. Luckily, yeast can be killed at high temperatures, but at extremely low temperatures it will merely become inactive.
Essentially, active yeast will hibernate when cooled.
If you want to freeze yeast dough, you’ll have the best success with your dough once it’s thawed if you rise it once first.
Letting it rise once and shaping it before you freeze it will not only save you time and energy in the future when you’re ready to use your dough, but it will allow the dough to maintain its shape while it’s frozen.
If you’re going to be making dough with a plan for freezing it, it’s important that you only use dry active yeast, not fast-acting yeast, which will not survive the freezing process as well.
Some bakers suggest you increase the amount of yeast you use, up to doubling your recipe, but this really isn’t necessary.
You will need to thaw your frozen dough completely before you bake it, however, or else the yeast will die before it’s active enough to allow for the second rising.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sourdough Bread
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on freezing sourdough bread. Please enjoy these related questions, in case we’ve left you wondering about anything else.
How To Store Fresh-Baked Bread Overnight?
You should store freshly baked bread in a cool, dry location to stay fresh. If it hasn’t been cut, a bread box or basket, covered with a kitchen towel, is perfect for maintaining freshness.
If you’ve sliced your bread, you want to protect it from exposure to the air and potentially bacteria. Transferring it to a paper bag that you can carefully seal will allow your bread to breathe without exposing it to air or moisture.
You can also transfer your bread to a plastic bag, but be very careful that your freshly baked bread is completely cooled down before sealing the bag and that it’s kept cool to prevent any sweating from happening inside the plastic bag.
How To Reheat Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread straight out of the oven is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you have a loaf of bread that has cooled for a few hours or days, you can reheat it carefully to return that fresh-from-the-oven goodness.
Try this re-baking technique:
- Preheat your oven to 200 F.
- Place your sourdough loaf on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
- Using a spray bottle with a very fine mist, lightly dampen the crust of your bread. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can dampen a cloth and use it to lightly moisten the curst. This simply protects the bread from drying out as it re-bakes.
- If your reheating sliced bread, try wrapping it in tin-foil before baking to retain perfect moisture levels and protect your sourdough from drying out.
- Bake for up to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf or how much is left to be reheated. If you’ve wrapped your bread in tinfoil, open it for the last 5–10 minutes to get the crisp back into your crust.
How long does sourdough bread last?
Freshly baked sourdough bread will last for 4–5 days if carefully stored.
The natural tang of acidity in sourdough actually discourages bacteria from calling this type of bread their home, so it isn’t likely to go moldy very quickly, but it can dry out if you’re not careful.
Storebought bread comes in plastic bags, but this is not the ideal way to store your homemade sourdough loaf. It’s better to allow your bread to breathe, so wrapping it in a cloth towel or storing it in a cloth bag is ideal.
Bread of any type should be stored in a cool, humidity-controlled environment, but not necessarily the fridge. Putting your sourdough in the fridge can dry it out more quickly.
If you want to keep your fresh sourdough bread even longer you can store it in a well-sealed Ziploc bag in your freezer where it will last for 1–3 months.
Best flour for making a sourdough starter?
Sourdough starter naturally creates wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that helps your future bread rise and taste delicious.
While you can make it from nearly any flour, you’ll have the best chance of developing a high-quality colony of yeast and bacteria if you use an organic, whole grain flour full of active nutrition for the bacteria to enjoy.
If you’re interested in learning more about the specific reasons why whole wheat, organic flour is the best for creating sourdough starter with, we’ve written a complete guide for you in a related article.
How to keep bread from molding?
Bread is soft and sensitive and the tiniest spec of mold can form into a colony that takes over the entire loaf, seemingly in minutes.
If you want to keep your bread from molding, you first have to understand what causes the mold to develop in the first place.
Humidity, warmth, and light are all reasons your bread may develop mold. Thankfully, storing your bread in a cool, dark, and dry location like a bread box or a pantry is a quick and easy fix for all these issues.
You can also freeze bread for longer-term storage though putting your bread in the fridge can dry it out quickly, which may not be as bad as mold but it’s not ideal either.