What's the best way to store bread?
Is the best way to store bread in the bag or in the fridge? In the immortal words of Prizzi's Honor hit man Charlie Partanna, "Which one of dese?"
My wife (the Lovely & Talented) Cheryl DeGroot and I have been together for going on 26 years. In all that time I have yet to convince her that bread should not be stored in a refrigerator. Naturally she thinks I'm wrong. But I'm not. Okay? I'm not!
In fact, storing bread in the 'fridge actually accelerates the rate at which it goes stale because refrigeration draws out the moisture, causing the starch molecules to crystallize. This is called "retrogradation." You can read more about all that right here.
What I like to do with a good fresh loaf is either keep it in a paper bag or place it cut side down on a bread board. I don't like plastic bags for crusty breads because the crust goes soft in them. For freezing a loaf I first wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then put it into a Ziploc. Defrost at room temperature, never in the microwave, which turns bread to rubber.
I do like the microwave for re-heating pasta dishes, though. Whatever it is that turns bread rubbery seems to keep pasta al dente instead of al musho as re-heating it on the stove can do.
For fascinating forums on all things bread try www.thefreshloaf.com. I've been lurking there for years and have picked up lots of useful information. And speaking of useful info, thanks to KPLU's Bellamy Pailthorp for forwarding this great way to slice a bagel into two linked and mathematically equal portions.
"'A loaf of bread' the walrus said 'is what we chiefly need..."
– Lewis Carroll