How to preserve Italian bread

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve Italian bread” and discuss the different methods used to preserve Italian bread.

How to preserve Italian bread

Italian bread is preserved by: 

  • Proper storage at room temperature
  • Freezing

What is Italian bread?

Bread is a traditional food with a very long history; it was prepared, for instance, in Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt at least 5000 years ago. Currently bread is prepared and consumed in a wide range of types and qualities all over the world and in developed countries; average consumption is approximately 70 kg of bread per capita per year (1).

Traditionally Italian bread was made from white wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil. There were several variations to the traditional recipes and now there are over 20 types of Italian bread varieties, each with a distinct flavor and texture. Some varieties of Italian bread include ciabatta focaccia and flatbread.

However, according to current laws (Law no. 580 of 1967, modified by the Presidential Decree no. 502 of 1998), “bread” is defined in Italy as “the product obtained by the exclusive use of flour, water, yeast, and eventually salt” without the addition of fats and oils or antistaling agents. In spite of a quite simple formulation, the Italian bread-making tradition, well established since ancient times, displays an array of high-quality artisanal bread types, including organic, whole meal, and durum wheat breads (1).

Italian bread can be served as croutons, french toast, bread pudding and even as sandwiches

Italian bread is very delicate and will become stale within hours after baking if it is not stored properly. The evaporation of moisture will dry up the bread, making it crumbly and tough.

How to store Italian bread 

Italian bread can be stored for about 2-3 days at room temperature, but the flavor and texture of the bread will start changing after 1 day. If you want to preserve them for more than a day, “cater wrap” the loaves in plastic wrap (wrap them completely in both directions to prevent any air from getting to them), or use zip-lock bags and try to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. Then, either freeze them or place them in a cool dark place (2).

If you are baking Italian bread at home, wrap the bread load with aluminum foil as soon as it reaches room temperature. This will prevent the bread from becoming dry.

The best way to store store-bought Italian bread at room temperature is to keep it in a cool dry place in its packaging.

You can also store the Italian bread inside a breadbox. Bread Boxes control the humidity and ventilation and preserve the freshness of the bread.

Remove the bread from its bag before storing it in a breadbox. If stored inside the bag, bread could spoil due to moisture accumulation.

How to freeze italian bread for preservation

Freezing is the best way to preserve Italian bread. 

If you are planning to store the Italian bread for more than 36 hours, it is necessary to freeze it.

Freezing keeps Italian bread fresh for about 3 months. After this, the quality of the bread may deteriorate but the bread will not spoil as long as the temperature is maintained at 0°F. If the bread is frozen for over 3 months, check for spoilage signs such as mold growth and odors before eating.

Frozen and thawed bread must not be refrozen. This will completely change the texture and cause spoilage. If you have leftover bread, try to use it to make bread crumbs.

To freeze Italian bread:

  • If the bread is in a big loaf, slice it to save space in the freezer.
  • Place the Italian bread slices inside a ziplock bag or wrap the loaf with aluminum foil. This will prevent freezer burns.
  • Label and place it in the freezer. 

To serve frozen Italian bread:

  • Remove the bread from the freezer.
  • Thaw the bread at room temperature. Keep the bread covered or wrapped in aluminum foil during thawing. If you have a frozen unsliced loaf and want to thaw it, pull it from the freezer at least 2 hours before you need to use it. Do not try to accelerate the thawing by putting it into the oven or microwave; this will only dry it out.
  • Re-heat the bread in an oven.
  • Serve the bread immediately.

Tips for preserving Italian bread

  • To get the best results from freezing without loss in flavor and texture, freeze the bread as soon as it reaches room temperature. If it is store-bought Italian bread, freeze the bread as soon as you get home. Storing bread at room temperature and then freezing will diminish its quality and reduce the shelf-life.
  • If you are freezing homemade Italian bread, make sure that the bread has cooled down to room temperature before freezing. Freezing warm bread will cause freezer burns and spoilage. The bread will cool down within 3 hours after leaving the oven.
  • If you are freezing store-bought Italian bread, you can freeze it in the original packaging, given that the packaging is air-tight. If not, slice and transfer the bread into ziplock bags or wrap it with aluminum foil before freezing.
  • Don’t store the Italian bread next to the cold air source in the freezer. Freezing at very cold temperatures will change both the flavor and texture of the bread.
  • Store bread away from meat items and other products that could contaminate the bread.
  • Never refrigerate Italian bread. Refrigerated bread will spoil much faster.

STORING DON’TS (2)

Never refrigerate bread. It dries out, even when packed in sealed plastic bags.

Don’t store crusty breads in plastic bags or in plastic wrap unless you plan to re crisp the crust in the toaster or oven. (Or unless a crispy crust doesn’t matter to you!)

Never store warm bread in plastic bags or plastic wrap. Wait until it has completely cooled down (no warmth at all!), to prevent condensation from forming in the bag and thus accelerating mold development.

How to refresh stale Italian bread

If your Italian bread looks stale and dried out, but not yet spoiled, you might be able to revive it by heating it in the oven for a couple of minutes. Reheating allows the bread to absorb more moisture and taste fresh.

To reheat Italian bread:

  • Preheat the oven to 450-degree Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the bread in aluminum foil.
  • Place it in the oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool down in the aluminum foil.
  • Serve immediately. Soon as the bread is exposed to air, it will dry out again.

Other FAQs about Bread that you may be interested in.

How to make bread in the kitchen aid mixer?

Can I make toast in a convection oven?

Can you freeze beer bread?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve Italian bread” and discussed the different methods used to preserve Italian bread.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

References

  1. De Boni, Annalisa, et al. Traditions, health and environment as bread purchase drivers: A choice experiment on high-quality artisanal Italian bread. J clean prod, 2019, 221, 249-260. 
  2. Smith, G. Solo Pane: A Study of Italian Bread. 2013. Wesleyan University. 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.