We’ve all been in the situation where you’re looking forward to eating something, so you get some bread out, and you’re instantly disappointed. The bread has mold on it and there’s nothing you can do. Sure, you could cut the mold off of it, but it still doesn’t feel right to eat it.
You definitely don’t want it to happen again, so you need to figure out the best way to prevent it in the future.
To prevent molding, you want to keep the bread in a cool, dry place that’s out of direct light. Moisture, warmth, and light promote mold growth, so you need to avoid these. If you’re storing your bread for any longer than a week, you should freeze it to stop both staling and mold.
Certain conditions definitely make bread more susceptible to mold, and these conditions are exactly what you’re wanting to avoid. If your home is particularly warm and humid, the bread is likely to mold relatively quickly if you don’t store it very well.
The aim of the game is to find an area of your kitchen that has the best conditions for the bread. With enough trial and error, you should find an area that has the right conditions to keep your bread going for a little while longer. If you want to learn more about sourdough bread specifically, read how long does sourdough bread last here.
What Causes Mold On Bread?
To put it simply, mold starts to develop on bread when the mold spores land on it and the conditions are right for it to grow.
Mold, a type of fungus, is caused by five factors: water, temperature, light, nutrients, and a mildly acidic PH. Of these factors, water is the primary cause of mold. Without moisture, no form of mold will be able to grow.
So, the number one thing that causes mold on your bread is simply humidity. Too much moisture in the air around the bread and you’re creating an ideal environment for the mold spores to mature.
Where Can I Store My Bread To Prevent Mold?
There are all sorts of places that people recommend for storing bread. Some are great, but some really aren’t. It really depends on the bread’s environment and what type of bread it is.
Let’s go through the best places you can store your bread to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
For storing your bread both long-term and short-term, you can use the freezer.
It’s as simple as wrapping the bread up well and putting it in the freezer. It seriously couldn’t get easier. It’s free too!
It’s perfect for those who don’t eat much bread. You can just take out a couple of slices at a time and you won’t have to worry about it going bad any time soon.
Whenever you want bread, you can just take some out of the freezer and either let it defrost at room temperature, in the microwave, or just use the toaster if you want toast.
The only negative effects are that it can be slightly drier once defrosted (this doesn’t matter if you’re toasting it), the crust will soften on crusty bread, and it may develop freezer burn if stored for extended periods of time.
Other than these mild negatives, storing bread in the freezer is a very effective and useful way to do so, especially if you don’t go through it very fast.
Brown Paper Bag
You’re likely aware that the majority of bakeries sell their bread in paper bags. There’s a very good reason for this: paper bags allow moisture to escape, which keeps crusty bread crusty. Air is allowed to circulate around the bread in the bag, keeping it crustier for longer. The crust helps to maintain more moisture in the crumb.
The one problem with this is that the bread stales relatively quickly. In the span of 2-3 days, it can be solid as a rock. Fortunately, staling is better than mold and the bread can be refreshed with a damp paper towel and some heat.
Like paper bags, a linen bag also prevents molding by wicking away excess moisture. This is done because linen is breathable, so air can circulate around the bread, keeping the bread crusty and the exterior of it dry.
While plastic can turn bread soft or even soggy, the linen bag provides just enough circulation to prevent too much humidity whilst not allowing the bread to stale too quickly.
The bread box works by retaining a small amount of humidity whilst also allowing a small amount of ventilation. Some bread boxes don’t allow any ventilation, but these can cause too much moisture retention and allow faster mold growth.
They create an ideal environment for bread since they’re cool, dark, and relatively dry. They act similarly to a plastic bag and trap some moisture, but they also release excess moisture through airflow, so you get the best of both worlds.
A bread box can be great for those that live in environments that have low to medium levels of humidity. If you live in an area with a high level of humidity, it may promote further mold growth if not used properly. If you do live in a high humidity environment and still want one, you’ll have to get a relatively large box and only put a small quantity of bread in it.
Overstuff your bread box in a humid climate and it’ll create even more moisture, which is what you want to avoid. In a dry/low humidity climate, you should be able to fit more bread in the bread box without the worry of too much moisture.
So, Where’s The Best Place To Store Bread?
So, we know that bread should ideally be stored in a cool, dark place with low humidity, but where is the best place to keep it fresh for the longest amount of time?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell you where the perfect place to store your bread is since temperature and humidity play such a large role in determining where’s best, but I can give you the best place to store it for the majority of people, so you can just experiment with different ideas from there.
In my experience, the best place to put your bread is in a bread box. I live in an area with low-medium levels of humidity and low temperatures, so I don’t have to worry about it molding too quickly in this environment.
For climates with higher humidity, you might want to wrap your bread in a paper or linen bag before storing it in a bread box. This will help battle the excess moisture.
Can I Store Bread In The Fridge
In most situations, it’s not a good idea to store your bread in the fridge. If stored in the fridge and exposed to the dry air, the bread will stale relatively quickly. If stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed plastic bag, moisture can build up (especially if it’s put in there whilst warm), which creates an environment where mold can develop, albeit slowly.
So, you should never put exposed bread in the fridge as this will cause it to dry out very quickly. On the other hand, storing well-wrapped bread may help to extend the life of the bread, but it can still promote mold growth.
Some people are strongly against storing bread in the fridge whilst others are all for it. The truth is that it can be done without drying, but even then it’s generally not the optimal conditions to store the bread
If you leave in a climate with very high humidity, storing bread in the fridge may be a viable option if your bread begins to mold very quickly at room temperature. It may help to extend the life of your bread by a few days or even weeks if it’s stored in airtight packaging.
Where You Shouldn’t Store Your Bread
So you know where you can store bread, but what about where you can’t store it?
Let’s go through the places you want to avoid in order to prevent both mold and staling.
An Airtight Container
Anything airtight is just going to hold moisture and potentially speed up the rate at which your bread develops mold.
As you know, moisture attracts mold, which is why you want to avoid it as much as possible. This can be made worse if the airtight container gets warm. Warmth and moisture make the mold spores very comfortable and able to mature on the bread.
Whether it’s a plastic bag or a sealed breadbox, the bread can get moldy very fast under the right conditions.
If you are going to use an airtight container, you’ll need to make sure it’s not overfilled. By only filling it with a small amount of bread, you’re going to ensure that’s there’s enough circulation and minimize the chances of mold.
Left Out On The Counter
The last place you want to leave bread is exposed to the raw air for long periods of time. If it’s unwrapped and exposed, it’ll go stale very quickly.
I’m sure that at some point in your life you’ll have left some bread out overnight and found that it’s rock hard in the morning. This is simply because the moisture is sucked out of the bread into the air.
Whilst it’s not moldy, you still won’t be able to eat it since it’ll be solid.
Anywhere That’s Exposed To Bugs
If you live somewhere that gets a lot of household bugs, you definitely don’t want to leave it anywhere they can get to it.
Ants are particularly bad in some countries. They’re so small that they can get into small crevices and they can surround exposed food in a short period of time. You can wake up in the morning to see a trail of ants marching towards your exposed bread. It’s really not fun…
So, you want to do your best to keep it wrapped up very well. Unfortunately, you might have to put it into an airtight container, the fridge, or wrap it in plastic if you don’t have any other ways to stop bugs from getting to it.
Near Anywhere With Temperature Changes
If your bread is wrapped up and going through regular temperature changes, there can be a lot of condensation and evaporation. This can then lead to the bread becoming moist, or even wet, which will be perfect for mold.
Avoid keeping the bread near a radiator, AC, or any areas where the temperature changes drastically.
Near Anything Damp
Anything wet or damp, like wet towels or a sink, can cause the air around it to become moist.
Remember, you need to keep the bread dry. If the bread is near a sink, water can get onto the bread via splashing or water vapor.
Different Types Of Bread Will Mold (And Stale) At Different Rates
The type of bread you have will largely effect whether it molds or not.
Generally speaking, lean bread (this means they just contain flour, water, salt, and yeast), like sourdough loaves or baguettes, doesn’t mold easily since it goes stale so fast. Lean bread is generally meant to be eaten within a day or two, so it should never get the chance to mold.
Supermarket bread and enriched bread (this means they contain other ingredients, like fat and sugar) both last longer than regular lean bread, so they have a higher risk of molding. Supermarket bread can last for the longest time since it has additives to keep it going, so it’s the most susceptible to molding.
So, if you’re going to store bread, remember to take notice of what type of bread it is. Chances are that you’re buying ‘supermarket’ bread, so it’s going to last longer than most types of bread and you need to keep an eye on it.
Keep it stored in a breadbox or a thick linen bag and it shouldn’t mold easily.
Read more on if it is safe to eat stale bread here.