Are you a fan of sourdough bread? We sure are! Not only is it delicious, but it’s also a healthier option than other types of bread.
Of course, a key thing to know is how to store fresh sourdough bread properly so you can enjoy it for as long as possible.
How to store fresh (and homemade) sourdough bread? For the first few days, you can leave it on the counter while covered by a tea towel to help air circulation, which will allow the crust to maintain its texture. After that, it’s best to store it in a bag or in a bread box (or in the freezer) to maintain its freshness.
With a little know-how, you can keep your sourdough bread tasting great for weeks. Here are a few tips to help you out!
Sourdough Vs Yeast Bread
Sourdough bread doesn’t actually contain any yeast. Instead, what makes the bread rise is a sourdough starter.
Sourdough starter is usually made of a special mixture of flour and water containing wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, which help to give sourdough bread its unique flavor and texture.
The lactic acid bacteria present in sourdough starter act as a natural preservative, helping to prevent mold growth.
As a result, sourdough bread will typically last longer than bread made with commercial yeast, despite containing no preservatives.
The shelf life of sourdough bread is determined by a number of factors, including the hydration level of the dough.
Generally speaking, bread with a higher hydration level will stay fresher for longer than those with a lower hydration level. This is because the water content helps to keep the bread moist, preventing it from drying out and becoming stale.
Sourdough bread actually contains more water than regular bread, which is why if you store fresh sourdough in a plastic bag, you will typically see the condensation of moisture on the inside of the bag.
How Long Does Sourdough Bread Stay Fresh?
Thanks to the presence of bacteria and the high level of hydration in the bread, sourdough bread typically doesn’t go stale as fast as other types of bread.
The best time to enjoy fresh sourdough bread is within a day or two after it comes out of the oven. You can enjoy the perfect crispness of the crust and the light and airy bread inside.
Sourdough bread may stay fresh for up to one week in the right conditions. Here are some tips for storing sourdough bread so that you can enjoy it for longer!
How To Store Sourdough Bread
The key to preventing sourdough bread from going stale is to allow air circulation while preventing the bread from drying out.
If you leave the bread out in the open, it will dry out faster. If you cut the bread into slices, the slices will also dry out faster.
However, you don’t want to trap all of the moisture inside the loaf by wrapping it in plastic. The moisture will start to collect on the bag as the bread dries out, and it will get absorbed back into the crust and soften it.
That’s why you still need to maintain good air circulation to prevent the crust from becoming soft and chewy.
Let’s take a look at some ways to store sourdough bread below!
1. Covered With A Tea Towel
The easiest way to store sourdough bread is at room temperature, with a kitchen towel — this helps to keep the bread from drying out while also allowing it to breathe.
The tea towel will prevent dust and insects from reaching the bread. It will also minimize the evaporation of moisture while absorbing the moisture that manages to escape the bread — this will maintain the crust’s crispiness.
If you have homemade sourdough bread that’s fresh from the oven, this is also the perfect way to let the bread cool down to room temperature while still maintaining its freshness!
If you plan on eating the bread within a day or two, this is the best option.
2. Paper Bag
A paper bag is good for preserving sourdough bread, but only for about a day.
The paper bag will keep dust and insects away from the sourdough bread, but it’s not very good for trapping moisture. Since air can still escape through the porous surface of the paper, the bread can dry out quite quickly inside a paper bag.
However, a paper bag is still a good way to wrap fresh-out-of-the-oven sourdough bread because it will allow the bread to cool down without trapping moisture.
It’s also an aesthetically pleasing solution if you want to wrap sourdough bread to give to friends and family!
3. Bread Box
A bread box is a handy tool to have in any kitchen. Not only does it help to keep your bread fresh, but it also keeps it out of the way of other food items!
A bread box is generally made from either wood or tin, and it has an opening on the top or front so that you can easily put your bread inside.
Bread boxes are not airtight, so there’s still air circulation inside the box. While the sourdough bread can still dry out, the bread box will slow down this process.
Since air is still able to escape from the box, it will also prevent moisture from collecting on top of the box, which will ensure that the crust is still crispy after a few days.
4. Dutch Oven
If you don’t have a bread box, you can use a cooled Dutch oven instead.
A Dutch oven, or any other glass container with a lid, will also protect your bread from any dust or insects in your kitchen. It can prevent the bread from drying out and will keep it fresh for longer.
However, a Dutch oven doesn’t have any air holes to allow moisture to be released as the bread dries out, so the crust may not stay crispy for very long if it’s stored this way.
5. Plastic Bag
Some bakeries sell sourdough bread in plastic bags, but these plastic bags usually have air holes to prevent the condensation of moisture.
This is because plastic bags do not let air escape, so moisture tends to collect and then get absorbed back into the bread, which makes the crust go soft.
That said, plastic bags are ideal for storing sourdough bread that doesn’t have a crispy crust, like rolls and buns. The plastic bag will allow the bread to stay soft and moist for longer without drying out.
If you want to store your homemade sourdough bread inside a plastic bag, it’s best to wait for the bread to cool down to room temperature to minimize the condensation of moisture inside the bag.
After the bread cools, you can safely place it inside a plastic bag for storage.
Best Way To Store Sourdough Bread
Having mentioned all the different ways that you can store sourdough bread, you may wonder which is actually the best.
The best way to store fresh sourdough bread is actually a combination of all of the above!
Fresh sourdough bread will have different storage needs compared to week-old sourdough, so let’s take a look.
When the sourdough is fresh out of the oven, moisture will evaporate as the bread cools down.
The best way to store fresh sourdough bread during this period is wrapped in a towel or inside a paper bag, which will slow the drying-out process while still allowing moisture to escape and preserving the bread’s crispiness.
If you have cut into the bread, place the exposed side down so that the inside of the bread won’t dry out too quickly, then cover it with a tea towel.
The bread will start to dry out at a slower rate. However, you should keep it inside a bread box or plastic bag to slow down the drying even more, which will preserve the quality of the crust.
Keep in mind that the plastic bag will make the crust go soft faster than a bread box.
Day 5 And After
To keep sourdough bread fresh for longer than five days, you will need to freeze it. Let’s take a look at how to do that!
How To Freeze Sourdough Bread
The best way to store sourdough bread while still preserving its quality is inside the freezer. Sourdough bread will stay fresh for up to six months in the freezer.
You can freeze a whole loaf of sourdough if you want, and you can also cut it into small slices, which will make it easier to separate and refresh.
Here is how to freeze sourdough bread:
- Allow the bread to cool down to room temperature — this is a very important step!
- Then, wrap the entire loaf using plastic wrap. You can also place it inside a large Ziploc bag and squeeze out any excess air from the bag.
- If you want to freeze individual slices, you can cut the bread and wrap individual slices in plastic wrap. Then, place the slices in a large Ziploc bag and squeeze out any excess air.
- Label the bag and freeze it for up to six months.
When you are ready to enjoy the bread, you can thaw the bread at room temperature for several hours or overnight and enjoy it in the morning.
How To Refresh Sourdough Bread
The best way to refresh sourdough bread is by using an oven. It’s also super simple!
Here is how to refresh sourdough bread:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- If you are refreshing a whole loaf of bread, you can sprinkle some water over the crust to restore hydration, which will allow the crust to become super crispy. This step is not necessary for reheating individual slices!
- Then, place the bread inside the oven for about 5 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, it will be just as delicious and fresh as before!