Making homemade bread is so rewarding, but it does take time and a bit of effort, so it’s understandable that you don’t want to waste one little bit of what you make.
Because homemade bread isn’t pumped full of additives, it just doesn’t last the same as shop-bought bread.
There are lots of new products and gadgets which have come to the market to keep bread fresh, but do they really work or should we just freeze excess bread instead? But does fresh bread freeze well and will it be as fresh as the day it went into the freezer?
The answer is, yes, homemade bread does freeze well, providing the bread is still fresh when it’s frozen and wrapped well it will remain fresh once it’s been defrosted. Homemade bread can be frozen as a whole loaf or in sections or slices for two to three months. You can also freeze other bread types such as rolls and pizza bases.
Read on to find out more about the best way to freeze homemade bread along with tips and advice to achieve maximum freshness from freezing and how you can make bread in batches for freezing.
Freezing fresh bread
The best way to freeze homemade bread is to freeze it when it’s very fresh. With anything when it’s frozen there will always be a degree of change in structure, so it helps if what goes into the freezer is very fresh, to begin with. If you put stale bread in the freezer, stale bread will come out.
To do this you need to know if you’ll be using all of the bread within two days once you’ve baked it.
Anything longer than that and the bread will be going drier and drier and unless you’re using it for toasting it’s just not going to be as nice as it was in the first 24 hours – whatever you do to keep it fresh.
If you don’t think you’re going to get through it then freeze it fresh so it’s still good when you need it next.
Can you freeze bread in slices?
Bread can be frozen in either full loaves, in sections or slices as long as it’s wrapped up well.
If you don’t use much bread, then freezing it in small batches of slices can be a really good way to have a few fresh slices of bread when you need it.
How should you wrap bread for freezing?
To keep bread as fresh as possible while it’s in the freezer it needs to be wrapped well.
The best way to do this is by placing the bread inside plastic food bags which can be sealed tightly in some way, such as a zip-seal or tie top.
If you’re freezing slices of bread place them on top of each other in batches depending on how many you will use for at any one time and place in a sealed bag.
Try to freeze the bread in a space in the freezer where it can’t be squashed or damaged while it’s in there.
If you don’t have plastic food bags, you can also wrap the bread in a few layers of freezable clingfilm.
How to freeze bread without plastic
I understand that not everyone likes to use plastic packaging, although plastic does work well, you can use a paper alternative.
You can buy various sizes of paper bags from Amazon, there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re using paper:
- The paper can get damp and tear in the freezer – keep it separate in the freezer from other items and consider double bagging.
- If you’re wrapping bread in paper it may not stay fresh for as long as plastic-wrapped in bread – in this case, it is best to use it less than two months.
- Other alternatives to freezing bread without packaging are wrapping securely in foil or using a reusable sealed box. I wouldn’t suggest the box option for freezing bread slices though because they could easily dry out.
Keep bread and raw meat separate in the freezer
When I first started a food business I had a lot of chats with our environmental health officer about the best way of doing things when it comes to food hygiene.
I always remember him telling me that you should store food in a freezer or deep freeze in the same way you use a fridge.
He said that one one of the biggest mistakes people make is keeping bread in the same drawer as raw meat and fish because the bread will never be cooked so once it’s defrosted bacteria will have the right conditions to thrive.
At the time, I’d never really thought of freezing like that – but now it makes complete sense.
So to be safe and to avoid cross-contamination, make sure the bread is properly sealed and kept separate from raw meat and fish.
How long does bread keep in the freezer
If it’s sealed and not exposed to the air, bread can be kept in a freezer for up to six months, but for optimum freshness and to prevent damage, I would use the bread within two or three months of freezing.
Whether the bread is whole, sliced or rolls will also affect how long you can keep it in the freezer, for example, a whole unsliced, sealed loaf is likely to stay fresher for longer than two slices of bread in a small bag.
If you freeze a lot of bread or you make it in batches for freezing, I recommend writing the date you froze it on the packet so you can use it in date order.
What is the best way to defrost bread?
The best way to defrost bread is simply by getting the bread out of the freezer and leave it sealed in the bag in a cool place to defrost.
If you don’t have much time to wait and the bread is sliced, you can place the slices you need on a plate and cover with cling film and leave it for around 30 minutes at room temperature.
You can also place frozen bread directly in a toaster, it may just take a minute or so more to toast than usual.
TIP: Not sure if you have all the necessary bread baking equipment at home? Check out my recommended picks below (Amazon links):
How to make homemade bread in batches for freezing?
Making and freezing homemade bread in batches is a great way to save time so you always have tasty bread to hand just when you need it.
You don’t have to go all out, just making a double batch will save you making it next time, or you could just keep a get out of trouble loaf for when you forgot to buy bread for breakfast the next day and you don’t want to go out to the shop.
If you do want to go all out, then pick a baking day to make a bulk of dough and make the bread of your choice.
How long after you’ve baked bread should you freeze it?
Bake the bread when it’s as fresh as possible but make sure it’s fully cooled before you wrap it and place it in the freezer.
If the bread is still warm and producing steam it will go soggy when it’s wrapped up and it’s also not good for the temperature in your freezer.
If you’re slicing the bread for freezing, to maintain the right texture, make sure the bread is completely cool before slicing.
Freezing homemade pizza bases
I just wanted to tough on freezing homemade pizza bases before wrapping up this post, because doing this is a really good way to save time in future and to make a quick but delicious pizza when you’re in a rush.
Making pizza bases can be really time-consuming and also if you only want to make one pizza you can have a lot of dough left.
So while you’re making your pizza dough batch, make some extra and bake them for a few minutes in a high oven so they are firm but still pale and only part-baked.
Allow the bases to cool down fully, wrap them up and freeze. When you need your base, pull it out of the freezer and allow to defrost for a bit (they defrost very quickly). Then you just need to add your toppings, bake and enjoy!
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