Longer Lasting Supermarket Bread: Ask For The Frozen Loaves

Want your bread to last longer?

Most grocery stores with a bakery section get their bread delivered frozen. Instead of taking the bread from the bin, ask the person behind the counter if you can have one of the frozen loaves!

A succession of freezing and thawing damages fruits and vegetables, so we can understand how the same might apply to bread.

Reader Zach does this at Stop & Shop in Mansfield, MA, and he says, “They seem fresher this way, and freeze better, as they are already frozen.”

A good shophack, especially if you’re just going to end up putting the bread in the freezer anyway. — BEN POPKEN

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  1. madktdisease says:

    HA I used to work at that Stop & Shop! I met Slayer there once…

  2. superlayne says:

    My grandma freezes her bread. I always thought she was weird when I was little. I’ll pass this on to her.

  3. Antediluvian says:

    I always freeze loaves of bread, but I didn’t realize supermarket bakeries purchased their bread frozen already (negative) but kudos for enabling customers to purchase said bread* frozen (positive).

    We don’t go through a whole loaf before it’d go bad, so just throw it in the freezer. Mom taught me that. It takes 3 minutes at room temp to thaw. It will dry out more quickly once it’s thawed, though.

    Also this way you never have to run to the market when there’s a chance of snow to stock up on bread.

    *he said, ‘said bread’. Wordplay is fun!

  4. Craig says:

    Pick up the bread right before you check out if you do this…frozen bread thaws quickly.

  5. Great idea!

    For a work project, I once had to do quite a bit of research on bread and shelf life. Bread goes bad two ways: mold and staleness. Staleness is both drying out and something called starch crystallization, which is what makes bread tough. Mold is usually controlled by additives in commerical bread, so it tends to stale before getting moldy. You may see the opposite with homemade bread.

    NEVER put bread in the fridge. It goes stale fastest at fridge temp, slowest at freezer temp, and moderate at room temp. So put your bread in the freezer to keep it long term, or on the counter (wrapped) short term. In the fridge it goes horribly stale overnight.

    To defrost bread, take it out and leave it unopened until any condensation inside the bag disappears. Opening it before then will result in a dry loaf.

    You can re-freeze bread, but every time it passes the 40-degree area in freezing and thawing, it stales a little bit more.

    You can temporarily make stale bread less stale by warming it, but you need to eat it very soon after than since it will stale faster once cooled. So take that stale bread and make toast.

    Other baked goods might need refrigeration based on how much eggs/sugar/butter in them. Cake can probably be left out but you should fridge pie, for example.

  6. etinterrapax says:

    Other good uses for stale bread: French toast (comes out a little more together if the bread’s dry), croutons, toasted under the broiler and ground for bread crumbs (but keep unused portion in the freezer afterwards to prevent mold).

    I know a few people who refuse to freeze their bread because they swear it affects the taste and texture. It’d probably frost their cookies to know it was already frozen before they bought it. Myself, I don’t notice a difference, and it’s frugal to do it if you have a small family. Moldy bread is wasted.

  7. kimsama says:

    @jendaviswilson: What the huh?! I have keep my bread in the fridge for years (haha, not the same loaf). Never had a problem with staleness. The big problem would be if you didn’t reseal the bag, since dryness is the key factor in staleness, and your bread is just going to get nasty anywhere you put it if’n it’s not sealed (eew, freezer-burned bread!).

    Overall, the fridge is ideal — I find that my bread sticks together in the freezer, and goes bad if I leave it out. So, the fridge, wherein my bread stays good for almost a month, tends to work best.

  8. kimsama says:

    I have keep = I have kept (ay, it’s not even that late and the brain has already shut down) ^_^

  9. Jabes says:

    Also note that you don’t need to defrost bread if you’re making toast, and it takes the same amount of time to toast as unfrozen bread.

  10. karmaghost says:

    Are we talking commercial bakery or in-store bakery? The store I work at gets all of its commercial bakery items (eg. Wonder Bread) in a normal, room temperature state. Its in-store bakery, however, will have the loaves shipped partially cooked or uncooked in a frozen state, then they’re shoved in the oven. Some of the bread dough is created on-site, but most of it isn’t.

    I’ve never heard of a store that ships commercial sliced loaves frozen.

  11. puka_pai says:

    It’s the in-store bakery bread that’s referenced in the original entry. In my experience, it’s often dough that’s sent frozen anyway, but some types of bread are sent after they are baked.

    Be prepared, if you try this, to be told no. The loaves are pulled from the freezer on a schedule, and having the bakery folks pull one before its shelf date will screw up the whole system.

  12. synergy says:

    I ditto kimsama and karmaghost. My bread lasts forever in my fridge without tasting bad. You probably need to be careful and push out as much air out of the bag as you can before you put it back in the fridge. I’ve also never known of grocery stores keeping frozen loaves. They get them delivered from local bakeries. If I hit the grocery store at certain hours I can get the bread still toasty from wherever it’s baked in town. MMmmmm. :)

  13. synergy says:

    Oh and I agree that freezing bread is weird AND it does make bread taste funny. Probably from th thawing.

  14. Sorenso says:

    From my experience working in a bakery inside a super market, the bread comes frozen but it is the form of dough. We took them out and then after placing them onto movable racks they went into a rotating defroster that would defrost and raise the bread. Then you cooked them.

    If you get them frozen, just make sure you let them rise a little before cooking.

  15. marike says:

    Due to the warm weather and humidity where I live, bread left out of the fridge will last 2 days max before it begins to mold. However, putting bread in the fridge will make it last soo much longer and I’ve never noticed it going stale (we always leave the end piece on top – maybe that’s why?). There is one brand (locally baked/packaged) that I get from Costco (two loves in one bag) that is super soft and will stay super soft in the fridge for more than a month (maybe longer but a loaf usually lasts about 3 weeks). We put the second loaf in the freezer, but after it thaws, it’s nowhere near as soft as it originally was, but still makes a good sammich.

  16. sparkrainfire says:

    are you guys crazy? i’ve worked for a supermarket for 6 years. the product that is in the back is in the back for a reason. rotation. nothing drives me more crazy than a customer that thinks they need special attention and extra fresh product “from the back” get it from the floor like the rest of us, or get the hell out of my store.

  17. winnabago says:

    “Shophack” seems like a gratuitous use of Gawker terminology. If it’s not related to a prank or taking over a remote computer then it’s not a hack. This “lifehacker” crap has got to end. Now, if you got into the Peapod backend code to make them deliver your bread with fresh hundred dollar bills stuffed inside. THAT would be a hack.

    Hold on while I go hack my car to make it go backwards out of my driveway, hack into my mailbox to get my mail, and hack McDonalds to get my cheeseburger without those disgusting onions. I’m a hacker, yeah!

    ‘hack’ != ‘use intelligently’

  18. jamier says:

    Keep in mind that bread is partially baked, frozen, and shipped to a supermarket bakery for a reason. It’s full of all kinds of crap that they can’t put in “real” bread: hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, a billion preservatives, baking accelerators, emulsifiers, and texturizers. Plus, they usually don’t have to list the ingredients and nutrition facts for these breads so they have leeway to put whatever the hell they want in them — despite being freshly reheated in the supermarket, supermarket “baked” bread is usually worse than packaged sliced bread.

    Bread is one product that there’s really NO excuse to have unnatural ingredients in, unless you want to gain weight, heart disease, or cut costs for giant corporations. Local, artisanal breads are available in almost every medium-size town or larger, and they’re usually about the same price as chain-store bakery bread (and sometimes sold in the same stores). The list of ingredients is usually five or less (plus added flavors, like olives, nuts, flaxseeds, etc).

    Try it, the difference in taste is incredible!