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 23 years or so baking bread at home, for my customers and in a large quantities for our local farmer’s markets
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Bread preserving tips for both home made & shop bought breads
Welcome to my practical tips on how to prevent mould developing on your bread – whether it’s supermarket bought bread, sliced bread or a bread baked at home.
If you like baking bread at home, you probably eat your bread straightaway. But sometimes, it can happen that the bread will go mouldy if you haven’t stored it correctly or if you’ve left it for too long.
Even if you buy bread in a supermarket or a bakery, you might get mould developing on your bread if you keep it for too long.
I try to do as much as I can to stop my bread from going to waste, but I do draw the line at eating mouldy bread!
How to stop mould developing on your bread – the quick answer
My favourite ways to prevent mould on bread include freezing my bread in small portions, reducing the amount of water in my baked bread, adding natural bread preservatives and selecting the right breathable containers or bread bags.
Most of my tips can be applied to a shop bought bread, so whether you bake your own bread or buy one baked for you, read on!
BREAD BAKING RESOURCES
- How to stop bread dough sticking to your hands >>
- How to prove bread dough in the fridge overnight >>
Freeze bread 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.
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!
Freeze bread in small portions
Apart from freezing all bread, that I know I can finish eating within 2 days, I also make sure that the bread I freeze is divided into smaller quantities.
I cut regular bread into slices or at least cut them in to quarters or halves and split any bread rolls into batches of 2 or 4. When the bread is sliced (but still frozen as one loaf) it surprisingly doesn’t stick together when it’s frozen.
This allows me to take out one or two slices of bread for toast or even just one roll at the time. This means I take out only what I need and eat it straightaway.
A slice of frozen bread can be easily defrosted and toasted in regular toaster if you put it on twice (once it defrosts, the next time it toasts).
Or if you are toasting your bread under grill, it just takes longer on both sides to toast your 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 mouldy bread in your bread bin, the spores are tricky to get rid of, so make sure you clean the bread bin thoroughly and leave it to dry completely before using it again.
MORE BREAD BAKING RESOURCES
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Check & control humidity in your house or kitchen
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.
If the humidity is a consistently over 70% then this could be the cause of your mouldy bread even if you wrap it carefully or keep it in the bread bin.
You can try to lower the humidity of your house, by simply opening windows to get some fresh air (if it’s not raining), move plants from your kitchen (watering plants will increase humidity) or putting on heating to warm up the house and prevent mould developing.
You can also choose to store your bread away from the kitchen, if the rest of your house has lower humidity. For example our Victorian house has quite cold kitchen, because it’s at the back of the house, where there is no sun.
The kitchen could be also very humid, but upstairs (or even at the front of the house), the humidity is much lower, because we get a lot of sunshine there.
Whilst keeping your bread away from the kitchen might not be the most practical solution, I think, it’s useful to know this if you get persistently mouldy bread.
Use natural 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.
If you decide to add any preservatives, I’d suggest to start with the more natural ones, like sorbic acid, which is pretty much a lemon in a dry form.
You might be able to get this in specialist baker’s shops, but if you don’t you can buy disolvable Vitamin C tablets.
The chances are that you probably won’t be able to buy sorbic acid as a baking ingredient in regular shop, so you can use 1/2 fizzy tablet of Vitamin C for every 500g of flour you use. All you need to do is to crush the tablet a little and put it in the water before adding to the bread mix (use the water allowance for the bread recipe).
The extra benefit is that your bread will rise a bit quicker and will be also bigger too. Don’t worry if you can only get 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.
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) if you don’t have one, but a lot of people store their bread this way.
Some bread bags go a bit further in keeping your bread fresh by adding a layer of breathable plastic. I found that these are really good at keeping my homemade bread and I’m sure they are great for shop bought bread too.
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Use tin bread bins rather than wooden ones
Traditional wooden bread bins do look really lovely, but they are a bit trickier to clean, especially if your previous bread develops mould. You can’t really use any strong cleaning product on wood, because the wood would absorb it.
Wooden bread bins draw moisture and humidity in, which can make your bread mouldy. This is not just from a humid kitchen environment, but also when you wash your wooden bread bin and don’t leave it to dry for long enough.
Tin bread bins are much easier to clean, dry out quicker and you can use stronger cleaning products if you ever need to (for example; any deep clean)
Change the type of bread you make (or buy)
White bread seems to go mouldy quicker than wholemeal breads or sourdough breads.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that white bread seems to go mouldy a lot quicker than wholemeal breads or sourdough breads.
If you want to keep your bread for longer without developing mould, try to switch to more wholemeal breads or artisan crusty type of 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.
This is not something I usually do, but some of my bread baking students found it quite useful in their home baking.
The trade off is that while the bread with less water will last longer, it will also be slightly tighter and not as light as when you add a large amount of water.
This blog post was originally written on 2 November 2020 and last updated on 22 October 2022