Slicing and Storing Homemade Bread
Slicing and storing homemade bread isn't difficult. Here are some tips to make slicing and storing more successful.
For best results, place the baked bread on a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool at least 15 to 30 minutes before slicing. For best results allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. Use an electric knife for even slices or use a sharp serrated knife. For square slices, place the loaf on its side and slice across. You can also use a bread slicer for uniform sized slices. They are inexpensive and can also be used for slicing bagels. The only downfall is that you cannot adjust the width of the slice.
Make sure the bread has completely cooled before storing. Hot or warm bread when stored will sweat which can make the bread soggy causing it to mold very rapidly. If you plan on storing the bread, slice only the amount to be consumed. Sliced bread allows air to come in contact with more of the bread which causes the bread the dry out and stale faster.
Store any unused bread tightly covered, either in resealable plastic bags or plastic containers, at room temperature for up to three days. Since homemade bread has no preservative, it tends to dry out and become stale faster than commercially-made bread. Homemade bread should not be stored in the refrigerator as the starch will crystallize and the loaf will go stale more rapidly.
To maintain the crispy crusts of some breads, such as French bread, store cut side down on a plate on your counter, then cover with a towel for up to a day. Storing in a plastic storage container or resealable bag will cause the crusts to soften. If you need to store these breads longer, store in a tightly covered plastic container, but the crust will be compromised.
For longer storage, place the bread in either a plastic storage container or wrap the bread in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then place in a resealable bag. Freeze in a frost free freezer for up to one month or in a non-frost free freezer up to 3 months.
When thawing frozen bread, remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. If thawing on the counter, leave it tightly wrapped until completely thawed before unwrapping to prevent condensation from forming on your bread which will make the bread soggy.
Refreshing and using slightly hardened bread
Leftover slightly hardened bread may be cut into 1/2-inch or 1-inch cubes and used in recipes to make croutons, bread pudding, or stuffing. Slightly hardened bread can also be toasted for sandwiches.
To refresh the bread: Preheat your oven to 300°F (149°C), wet a paper bag or towel, then place or wrap the bread in the bag or damp towel. Place in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (larger loaves may need more time). The steam will soften the bread. You can also place the bread in a microwave for several seconds, but the texture of the bread may change.