Without the presence of chemically laden preservatives, sourdough bread gets a bad rap for not having a long shelf life. I will admit that for me, shelf life isn’t important … I tend to eat food fresh and fast and source non-pantry items such as meat, fruit, and vegetables throughout the week as needed. But I do understand that since food is the center of my universe, that is a luxury for me, and not all of us have the means or schedule to be bopping around for fresh steak and bread everyday. Sooooo, for those of you that 1. don’t consume a loaf of bread within a few days ( cough cough, as a lady who can easily consume a loaf in max 4 days, what is your excuse) and 2. do want to make that delicious loaf last a bit longer in your kitchen; here are some tips for good sourdough storage.
First to be clear, slowly fermented sourdough actually contains a good amount of natural acid that keeps sourdough loaves edible and tasty for 4-5 days when kept at room temperature. To me that is perfect and in my opinion, it’s a little personality trait about bread we all need to start wrapping our head around. Good healthy slowly fermented bread that is healthy for our guts and lives doesn’t live on our countertops for weeks waiting to be used for a boring sandwich. no no… it lives on our countertop for 2, 3, 4, maybe 5 days sliced into daily and enjoyed fully!
But ok, I’ll stop preaching… here are tips for storage as well as my trick for a nice little sourdough “re-bake,” followed en final by a few things that I personally LOaVE to do with past-it’s-peak bread and/or some frozen bread.
As a general rule, avoid the fridge! fridges are way too dry and too cold and will cause your bread to get super hard super fast. ayyyyyyy… that’s what… nevermind.
Once COMPLETELY cooled and sliced, wrap loaf well in plastic wrap and store at room temp. Vacuum sealed is also quite helpful. Aluminum Foil also works well. **Sometimes plastic bags will cause condensation especially when it’s not completely cooled which moistens your loaf and makes it gross so if you find yourself with loaves that get soft and weird, try aluminum foil instead
Airtight containers like tupperare or bread boxes work well as long as air is not just swooping in on your cut loaf.
FREEZER! utilize your freezer! You can of course just wrap whatever you haven’t eaten in plastic wrap or foil and put in freezer BUT I find the most time efficient and flavor maximizing approach is to let loaf cool, SLICE, and THEN wrap each slice individually and put into the fridge. Obvi this increases the workload on the front end, but on the back end, i.e. the eating end, all you have to do to say have a piece of toast is pull that one prepped slice from the freezer, let it warm to room temp (about 20 minutes) and then begin the action of toasted (you will definitely want to toast).
RE—>BAKE! I personally love a good re- bake which essentially brings a 2-3-4 day old loaf right bake to life… I spray the loaf or the half of loaf with a little bit of water and bake it at 325 for about 25-30 minutes. Seems long but baby sourdough wants what baby sourdough wants and that’s what it wants.
And en final, utilizing your loaves after their peak or past that 4-5 day window should never not be a thing. There are so many recipes that lend themselves to solid stale bread, so much goodness, that hopefully the word stale doesn’t denote something negative, but instead something damn delicious.
French Toast… literally old bread dipped in an egg and milk batter and toasted to crunchy perfection
Panzanella… i.e. BREAD SALAD. um yes duh. Panzanella is a florentine tradition deeply rooted in the use of juicy tomatoes i dig this Spring Panzanella along with her write up. I got to be honest though, I’m dreaming up a juicy tart spring panzanella with local strawbs and balsamic and maybe asparagus and greens and herbs.
Croutons, + Bread Crumbs… save money, have better flavor, live better
Stuffing- obvious, yes, but we usually think about stuffing as a thanksgiving thing so I challenge you to rethink it as a year round casserole and put whatever veggies and herbs in there and have yourself an easy filling healthy one pan dinner utilizing old bread. FUN right ?!
also don’t be afraid to swipe some stale bread in a little chicken jus or whatever meat juices you happen to be cooking or roasting with and feeding it to your dog, it’s quite a treat and they will stare at you longingly forever if they don’t already.