My top tips on how to stop bread going mouldy, include freeze what you don’t eat straightaway, reduce the amount of water in your bread, consider adding natural preservatives and choose breathable containers or bread bags.
Eating mouldy bread is never a good idea. I really don’t like to see bread going to waste, so I’ll do anything to prevent it from going mouldy. Over the years, I’ve had my share of bread going mouldy disasters, so my tips are based on what I’ve learned over the last 22 years or so.
Freeze what you can’t eat within 2 days
I only bake our bread once a week (if that), but I always bake several loaves together to save time and electricity. I then freeze what I know we can’t eat within 2 days. I slice or half large loaves and split any bread rolls into batches of 2 or 4.
Any bread that’s frozen will be better when defrosted (in 1 or 3 months time) than fresh bread that’s been left beyond 3-4 days. You can always refresh the bread by defrosting it first and then baking it for about 5-10 minutes in the oven on 180C. This brings back the bread crust, your house will smell amazingly and everyone will think you’ve just baked them a fresh bread!
Clear & clean your bread bin
It’s often the case that mould lives in bread crumbs which were left in the bread bin from the last time. It’s a good idea to clear out and wipe your bread bin regularly and leave it to dry completely before using it again.
The problem is that once you have a mouldy bread in your bread bin, the spores are tricky to get rid of, so make sure you don’t spread them around.
Check how humid your house or kitchen is
If you live in a dry area (or your kitchen is south facing and always warm & full of sun) your bread will last a bit longer (anything up to 7 days) than if you live in a humid climate (or it’s continuously raining in autumn and you have an old cold house kitchen – like me!) where your bread might be starting to get mouldy within 3 days.
This is a similar problem, that can contribute towards sourdough starter going mouldy, so it’s worth checking the exact humidity level, if you think that this could be the cause.
Use preservatives in your homemade bread
If you make your own bread, the chances are that you are not using any preservatives or funny sounding ingredients like calcium propionate, sorbic acid or potassium sorbate. This makes your homemade bread more susceptible to mould.
I would always encourage people to freeze their bread if they can’t finish eating it within 2-3 days, rather than to add preservatives, but if for whatever reason you want to, it’s possible to extend your homemade bread shelf life by adding preservatives. I would stick with the more natural ones, like sorbic acid, which is pretty much like a lemon in a dry form.
The chances are that you probably won’t be able to get it in it’s baking – ingredients form, so I would use 1/2 fizzy tablet of Vitamin C for every 500g of flour you use. The extra benefit is that your bread will rise a bit quicker and will be also bigger too. Don’t worry about flavoured Vitamin C, it’s such a small amount that you won’t be able to taste it.
Use breathable storage bags
Whilst most people think that you need to keep your bread in as much sealed environment, the opposite is the truth. Your bread needs to breathe. On the day when you bake your bread, leave it to ‘dry out’ on the cooling rack and then use a paper bag rather than a plastic bag to store your bread. It doesn’t even need to go to a bread bin (container).
Change the type of bread you make (or buy)
White bread seems to go mouldy quicker than wholemeal breads or sourdough breads.
Use less water & butter (or oil)
Bread with less water content and butter (or oil) will have less moisture, which will result in the bread being less ‘wet’ and it will reduce the chance of bread mould developing. Whilst bread with less water will last longer, it will also be slightly tighter and not as light as when you add large amount of water.