There are few things better than a fresh slice of homemade bread, but it never seems to last! Especially in warmer climates or during the summer months, mold seems to get the best end of the loaf before we’re even able to finish it!
All those hours spent making the dough, kneading, folding, and baking, gone in a mere few days.
So, how do you keep bread from molding? The best way to prevent mold is by storing your loaves in a bread bin, cloth bread bag, or even a paper bag. Keep the bread away from heat, sunlight, and preferably oxygen by keeping it in an airtight or near airtight container.
Today, we have made the ultimate guide to preventing bread mold growth.
We will be looking at the elements that mold needs to multiply and grow, and various methods to remove them. Then, we will look at the best storage methods as well as some other tricks that will help slow the rate of growth.
What Creates Mold?
In order to prevent mold from growing on bread, you first have to understand the causes of that mold. By doing so, we can eliminate the initial factors and extend the shelf life.
The species of mold that grows on bread vary but are all equally common in other foods.
Mold forms when their spores reach the surface of a food item and start consuming the organic compounds on it. This causes them to grow into eventually visible mold.
The three most common types of bread mold include Penicillium, Cladosporium, and black bread mold. Regardless of which you have, they all form and grow in the same way.
Factors that greatly influence the growth of mold include oxygen, a food source (moisture and nutrients), temperature, and time.
In order to grow, mold first needs to find a food source with good moisture content. Any type of fresh raw or cooked ingredient will contain moisture.
If you think about a strawberry vs a piece of dried pasta, which do you most often see mold on? The strawberry of course! That is because they contain lots of moisture for the spores to grow and multiply.
Along with the moisture comes nutrients. Sweeter ingredients, like strawberries, will provide more nutrients and sugars for mold spores to feed on as compared to dried pasta.
This principle applies to different types of bread; banana bread that contains a lot of sugar will grow mold faster than a loaf of brown bread.
The second most important thing mold needs is oxygen. Because the spores are living organisms, they need oxygen to survive and thrive. By removing it you will slow down their growth considerably!
Temperature is a crucial factor to consider when storing any type of food. Bacteria and mold react differently to different temperatures.
The temperature danger zone is between 40-140°F (4-60°C). Any items stored in these temperatures will be at risk of growing mold.
The most optimal temperature for mold growth is room temperature, between 68-72°F (20-22°C). This is where bread is at its most vulnerable and will grow mold the fastest.
The colder the temperature gets, the slower the mold will grow, and at freezing temperature, most molds will die.
The last factor to consider with mold growth is time. If you leave ingredients out in unfavorable conditions for too long, you allow the mold time to grow.
How to Prevent Mold from Growing on Bread
By removing even one of the above-mentioned growing factors, you will be able to help prevent mold from growing on bread, or at the very least delay it by quite some time!
To remove oxygen, you can store the bread inside an air-tight container or an oxygen-restricting area. To control the temperatures, it is best to store your bread outside of the temperature danger zone and in cooler areas.
We would also recommend using your bread as soon as possible to limit the amount of time the spores have to multiply and grow.
Here are some of the best methods you can use to prevent mold from growing on your bread and extending its shelf life!
Have you ever wondered what the function of bread boxes is? They don’t only look more aesthetically pleasing than a plastic bag, but they actually help eliminate some of the mold-growing factors.
These boxes act as a barrier between the bread and outside light. Light creates a temperature build-up inside the bread bags and also creates excess moisture.
These are two very big elements that aid the growth of mold. It also helps reduce the oxygen available for them to multiply.
By placing a loaf of bread (without its bag of course) inside one of these bread boxes, it creates just the right amount of air circulation to prevent mold from growing, but enough humidity to keep it from drying out completely.
We recommend buying enamel or ceramic bread boxes (this is one of our favorites), as they can be sterilized whereas completely wooden boxes can actually trap mold between their grains.
If you ever need to figure out the correct storage method for ingredients, think about how artisanal shops store and sell their products. Brown paper bags and even cloth bread bags are often used because of their effectiveness.
Avoid plastic bags at all costs as they have no air circulation and cause moisture to build up inside of them.
Both brown paper bags, parchment wrapping paper, and cloth bread bags allow for good ventilation to prevent mold from growing while also preventing the loaf from drying out.
Paper bags work great for hard-crusted or crispy bread, whereas cloth bags work better for white French bread (semi-hard bread).
Keep your bread inside a fridge
There is A LOT of debate regarding this storage method, especially for baked goods like bread.
While it does reduce the temperature and prevents bacteria and mold from growing rapidly, it does simultaneously dry out the bread, causing it to go stale.
Then again, it also reduces the oxygen and light factors that are essential for mold to grow.
In our opinion, make to store your bread inside a bag, or even its plastic bag, if you are planning on using it soon (within a few days). If you are looking for a long-term solution, then this isn’t the right or best method to use.
Storing your bread in a freezer
Freezing is by far the best and most effective way to prevent the growth of mold on your loaf. It will also extend the shelf life by months!
It reduces the oxygen flow, has extremely low uninhabitable temperatures, cuts out any light, and has virtually no liquid moisture inside.
It is recommended to pre-slice your loaf before freezing it so you can remove slices as you need them.
Wrap your loaf in plastic or saran wrap, or place it in a freezer-safe bag. Make sure your freezer doesn’t have any fluctuating temperature and your bread will keep for 2-3 months.
Additional Tips & Tricks
Whichever method you decide to use, try to avoid using the plastic bread bag. Plastic bags create excellent environments for mold to grow in and provide a ton of moisture in ideal mold-growing temperatures.
If you need to use a plastic bag, keep it open to prevent the build-up of temperature and moisture, and keep it out of direct sunlight.
If you have to store bread at room temperature, the best place is inside a drawer or food cupboard, away from sunlight.
You cannot effectively control the temperature so storing it in the coolest places will be best. Cupboards also prevent direct sunlight from creating heat inside the packet and condensation from forming.
Softer bread with more moisture will grow mold quicker compared to harder and darker bread. White bread (like a traditional white loaf or a baguette) will grow mold faster than a sourdough or ciabatta.
High sugar bread will also grow mold faster as sweeter ingredients provide more energy compared to saltier or acidic ones.
Unless you are storing bread in the freezer, avoid pre-slicing your loaf and rather slice as your need. By slicing the loaf, you are creating a bigger surface area for mold to grow.
If you have bread that has been sitting out for too long, it is best to toast the slices or make croutons. Alternatively, you can use it to make delicious stuffing. Have a look at our bread stuffing article for some exciting ideas.
When looking at the shelf life of bread, it is directly determined by the storage method. Storing freshly baked bread at room temperature (bread without preservatives) will start going stale after 2-3 days.
Commercially made bread will keep for 5-7 days at room temperature.
Storing your bread in the fridge will extend their shelf life anywhere between 5-10 days, but keep in mind that the fridge will dry them out before they grow mold.
When storing bread in a freezer, it will keep for 3-4 months and can be easily defrosted and reheated.
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