You've spent all that time and energy on the perfect loaf of sourdough bread, and after enjoying the fruits of your labor, you actually have leftovers. The best way to store fresh sourdough bread is at room temperature on your kitchen counter, but you'll want to make sure you store it in the proper container or wrap. Before you bake, discover how to properly store sourdough bread to keep it fresh and help maintain its texture and taste.
The Best Way to Store Sourdough Bread
One reason so many people rave about homemade sourdough bread is that it stays fresh at room temperature much longer than traditional store-bought breads. For optimal freshness, always keep your sourdough stored at room temperature. There are a few storage containers or types of wraps you can choose, depending on how fresh your loaf is or even if you've already cut into it or sliced it up.
How to Store a Fresh Sourdough Loaf
Before you even think about storing that fresh loaf of sourdough, make sure it's completely cooled. While your kitchen is full of the smell of fresh baked bread - aka, the best smell ever - give your loaf enough time to cool down before you store it away. Even slicing into your bread before it's cooled will alter the texture of the loaf.
Within the first 12-24 hours of baking your loaf, you can actually leave it out on your counter without compromising the taste or the texture of the crust. The only warning here is that each time you walk by the bread on the counter, you'll be tempted to take a taste.
For a whole loaf, you'll want to store it in a paper bag after the first day to help it maintain freshness. Be sure to fold the edges of the bag over. You can also wrap the bread in a clean tea towel to keep it fresh while also allowing air to circulate so the crispy crust lasts as long as possible.
Once your loaf is two or three days old, you'll need to look for a more airtight storage option so the bread doesn't dry out. A bread box is handy and can be decorative if you bake enough bread to justify the space it will occupy. If you don't have a bread box, beeswax wrap is an excellent alternative for keeping your bread fresh without locking in too much moisture. Both options will keep your loaf from losing moisture without depriving it of moisture entirely.
If you don't have a bread box or the traditional rustic style isn't your vibe, a domed cake stand stores your bread properly and looks beautiful on your kitchen counter.
How to Store a Cut Sourdough Loaf
You waited the allotted time for your loaf to cool, but you just couldn't resist slicing into it - no judgment. If you're still planning on saving the rest of the loaf, there are a few storage tips to keep in mind that differ slightly from what you might do with a whole loaf.
On the first and second day of baking your bread, you can still store your sliced loaf at room temperature without any sort of covering or container. The only thing you'll need to do differently is flip your loaf over with the cut side down on a wooden cutting board. If you sliced your bread down the middle - you definitely went for that perfect slice - then you can store the loaf by pressing the cut sides against one another in a paper bag or tea towel. Once you reach the three-day mark, switch to a bread box or airtight wrap so your loaf doesn't dry out and do your best to seal off the cut side.
How to Store Sourdough Bread Slices
If you sliced more of the sourdough loaf than you needed, don't panic. You can still keep your slices fresh for a couple days. Store them away as quickly as you can to make sure they stay as fresh as possible. Once sliced, sourdough will immediately lose moisture, so storing the slices uncovered isn't a great idea.
For the best chance of keeping your slices fresh, immediately wrap them in plastic wrap or put them in a plastic bag with a tie. These storage options aren't recommended for whole or cut loaves, but when you're trying to lock in moisture for sourdough slices, they are a great storage choice. You could also keep the slices in an airtight container like a glass cake plate or sealed dish for a day or two, but you will want to use the bread as quickly as possible.
How to Store Sourdough Bread Starter
Maybe you haven't made it to the baking process yet and just need to know how to store your sourdough starter until you're ready to fire up the oven. If you aren't planning to use your starter over the next three to four days, it's best kept in a sealed glass jar inside your refrigerator. For a starter you plan to use within 24-48 hours, store it in the same glass jar at room temperature.
How Not to Store Sourdough Bread
Now that you know the best ways to keep your sourdough loaves and slices fresh, you should know the storage methods you definitely don't want to try with your sourdough.
- Never store your sourdough bread in the refrigerator. The cold temps in your fridge will zap your bread of moisture and cause it to go stale quickly.
- Don't skip the cooling process. If you store your bread while it's still hot, you'll compromise the texture, and you'll likely lose that signature crispy crust.
- Plastic storage containers aren't the best option for keeping your bread fresh. These can cause your bread to get soggy. If you need to use a storage container - like those extra slices you prepped - opt for glass.
- Plastic wrap is another less-than-ideal storage option for your sourdough bread. Though it can work if you have no other options, it still might cause some sogginess and compromise your crust. This is really only a wise choice for storing slices.
- Plastic storage bags - like a Ziploc bag - seem like a great idea for storing your sourdough. But the airtight seal and the clingy plastic bag will encourage the growth of mold on your loaf as well as add too much moisture to the bread and strip your loaf of its crispiness.
How to Freeze Sourdough Bread
If you're looking to freeze your remaining loaf or slices, some methods you would otherwise avoid might actually help keep your bread as fresh as possible in the freezer. Whether it's a whole loaf or a few remaining slices, tightly wrap the bread in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You will get a better seal with the plastic wrap, but aluminum foil will do the trick if you need to freeze the bread right away. Pop the tightly wrapped loaf or slices into a plastic freezer bag and seal it properly, making sure you release any air before zipping it up.
Your sourdough should stay pretty fresh for up to three months. After that point, it should still be safe to consume, but it will lose some of its quality. When it's time to thaw and enjoy your loaf, remove it from the plastic bag but keep it in the first layer of wrap. Allow it to thaw completely at room temperature before digging in. If you freeze and thaw your sourdough bread correctly, it should maintain the same texture and flavor it had before.
Store Sourdough With Confidence
You've mastered the sourdough starter method, discovered your favorite bread recipe, and now you know how to store any of the leftovers you might have. Now you can prepare bread for the future and never worry about making too much. Looks like the hardest part will be having any leftover bread to begin with.