Defrosting, Not De-Freshing, Bread
March 16, 2010 6:29 AM   Subscribe

How can I defrost bread without it getting stale?

Eating a full loaf of bread before it gets moldy or stale in normal conditions is tough for me, a single guy living on his own, so I freeze my bread products. When I defrost the bread, though (usually by nuking it for 15 seconds), it gets stale, especially around the edges. Is there a fool-proof way to keep this from happening? I've tried sprinkling the bread with a little water with varying results.

For what it's worth, I experience this most with white bread, but have also had the problem with potato rolls and other bread products.
posted by moviehawk to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think your 'stale' might be actually be 'cooked'.

I throw the bread in the fridge and let it defrost there. Frozen bread also toasts up nicely without getting soggy or anything.
posted by anti social order at 6:31 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Microwave? Yech.

Try the toaster.

posted by General Tonic at 6:34 AM on March 16, 2010

Best answer: Bread defrosts really quickly at room temperature. Just take out the slices you want to use half an hour before you eat, put them somewhere covered and voila - nice fresh bread.

I freeze my bread too, and this has always worked for me.
posted by MorningPerson at 6:36 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

What are you doing with the bread?

Toasting it will give you much better results than using the microwave.
posted by grouse at 6:40 AM on March 16, 2010

I also defrost on the counter for about 20 minutes, but here is a hint. Wrap the slices in a paper towel when you take it out of the freezer and that will prevent the bread from drying out as it defrosts. The microwave is never the best option when dealing with breads.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 6:42 AM on March 16, 2010

You can do it in the microwave, but use a very low power setting for a longer period of time rather than full-power for a shorter time. If you haven't actually read your microwave's manual then this can be tricky to accomplish.

Toasting or just leaving it at room temperature is generally better, though.
posted by jon1270 at 6:43 AM on March 16, 2010

Response by poster: Chalk one up to laziness. Patience is a virtue, as they say. Guess I'll have to pay more attention to when I want to eat a sandwich and take time to defrost at room temp.
posted by moviehawk at 6:44 AM on March 16, 2010

Can you put it in the fridge rather than the freezer, then warm it up in the toaster?
posted by pised at 6:48 AM on March 16, 2010

Toasting works great. Bread also goes from freezer to fridge very well - you can take a few slices off the frozen loaf and keep them in the fridge for when you need them.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:51 AM on March 16, 2010

The microwave stiffens bread. Take it out the night before and let it defrost at room temp, or (what I used to do when I ate bread more slowly), get sliced bread, take out just the pieces you need, and lightly toast them.
posted by Miko at 6:58 AM on March 16, 2010

Wrap the piece of bread in paper towels to prevent moisture escaping from it in form of water vapor. Make sure the wrapping is *perfect*. Put inside the microwave oven and heat it for 5 minutes at low power (you'll have to test your own microwave oven for this, though). Let it cool for a few minutes before removing the paper towels. Enjoy.
posted by Guywood Threepbrush at 7:02 AM on March 16, 2010

Nthing toaster.

Note that if you buy a loaf of nice unsliced bakery bread, you can slice it before you freeze it. That way you don't have to defrost a whole loaf.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:04 AM on March 16, 2010

I keep my bread in the fridge. When I'm almost done with a loaf, I'll take a new loaf out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight. I've never had any problems with staleness or mold.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 7:33 AM on March 16, 2010

I don't even think it takes a half hour. If you get a couple of slices out for a sandwich and then start getting out your other ingredients and making the sandwich, the bread'll be just about defrosted by the time you're done and sitting down to eat.
posted by Askr at 7:42 AM on March 16, 2010

I don't even think it takes a half hour. If you get a couple of slices out for a sandwich and then start getting out your other ingredients and making the sandwich, the bread'll be just about defrosted by the time you're done and sitting down to eat.

This is how it works in the Kwine household.
posted by Kwine at 8:02 AM on March 16, 2010

I usually throw my bread in the refrigerator to thaw and it comes out fine. If I'm in a hurry, I'll toast the frozen slices.
posted by chairface at 8:21 AM on March 16, 2010

I'm a single person who also finds it difficult to eat bread fast enough. When will half-loaves be invented?

I was surprised to learn that bread keeps very well in the fridge and there is little need to freeze it. I can normally get through a loaf before it gets mouldy.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2010

Take a piece of frozen bread, hold it right up on your face, and blow into/through it. Defrosts very quickly, and you feel like you are doing something instead of just waiting around for it to thaw by itself. Don't do this if the sandwich is for your roommate.
posted by CathyG at 10:31 AM on March 16, 2010

microwaves and refrigerators constitute bread abuse. of course if you are buying lousy bread to begin with you can abuse it all you want. but if you are buying quality bread, wrap it in aluminum foil, place it in a plastic bag, stick it in the freezer. to thaw, remove from freezer, remove plastic bag, leave it in the foil on the counter top. be patient. eat.
posted by zoesmom at 10:55 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried less time in the microwave, or using the defrost setting? When I thaw frozen white bread, I usually don't microwave it for more than 12 seconds (for two slices). You don't want the slices warm when they come out, just not frozen solid anymore.

Also, keep in mind that frozen bread doesn't stay fresh forever, even once it's frozen. The staleness could be freezer burn if your bread has been in the freezer a long time.
posted by geeky at 11:24 AM on March 16, 2010

I buy good bread, and it doesn't ruin it to keep it in the fridge. It might not be good for delicate white breads with crisp crusts that need to avoid moisture, but for most wheat-flour breads with a dense or a stretchy crumb, the fridge actually helps them retain moisture and prevents staleness. I have done this too and it works well.
posted by Miko at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2010

On Food and Cooking, the beloved bible of food science, has a great section explaining the chemistry of bread staling.
posted by buzzv at 1:23 PM on March 16, 2010

Call me wrong because I am, apparently, about the refrigerator, according to McGee. But I've never had any ill effects or noticed particular staleness. Storing it on the counter, even wrapped, seems to always result in mold. Ah well, live and learn.
posted by Miko at 2:37 PM on March 16, 2010

Currently stuck to our refrigerator door is a magnet from Zingermans bakery telling us the right way to store and defrost good bread. Short version: if you don't use bread that often, cut into manageable amounts, freeze in airtight packaging, reheat for up to 45 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit (or ~20m for a quarter loaf, in my experience).

YMMV for more processed baked goods, but this procedure has made buying artisan breads completely worthwhile in our house.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:11 PM on March 16, 2010

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