The truth is, if you want to keep your bread fresher for longer, wrapping it in plastic and storing it in the fridge is the worst thing you can do.The refrigerator really is bad for bread, though the full story is a little more complicated than just that
Before we begin to dissect why bread goes stale faster in the fridge, it’s important to know what bread is actually made of. Breads are essentially networks of wheat flour protein molecules (called gluten) and starch molecules. Suspended in this network of molecules is carbon dioxide that is produced by the fermentation of yeast inside the dough. This gives bread its fluffy, foam-like texture. Begin to play around with the amounts of these ingredients and other fancy tasting additives and you can get many different types of textures and tastes.
The starch inside of this mixture has its own characteristics. Starch molecules are made of two base components, both are long chain sugar molecules. Glucose (sugar) is classified as a monosaccharide, meaning one glucose unit. But if you link these units together, they can become a polysaccharide or complex carbohydrate (be afraid Atkins lovers, be very afraid). The two units are Amylose and Amylopectin. Amylose, which usually consists of about 10,000 sugar units, is built like a narrow bundle of reeds with all its glucose units arranged in straight parallel lines. Amylopectin, which usually consists of about 20,000 glucose units, have a more tree-shrub like appearance with its glucose units clumped together going in all directions.
Wheat flour, the primary ingredient (along with water and yeast) of bread dough, is packed full of granules of starch. That starch, in its natural state, is largely in crystalline form, meaning the starch molecules are arranged in a defined geometric structure. Once mixed with water to form a dough and baked in the oven at high temperatures, the crystalline structure of the starch breaks down as the starch absorbs water and becomes increasingly amorphous (meaning the starch molecules have no clearly defined structure).
As the bread cools, however, those starches begin to slowly regroup into a more ordered, crystalline structure again, and it’s this gradual return (“retrogradation”) to the crystal state (“re crystallization”) that causes bread to harden and grow stale. This process is so central to staling, in fact, that even bread that has been hermetically sealed to prevent all moisture loss will still harden and turn stale.
Bread goes stale about six times faster in the refrigerator then when kept at room temperature so putting it into the fridge simply hustles this process along.
So then why does this retrogradation process occur more rapidly in the refrigerator? Although scientists have made considerable progress in dissecting the staling process, it still is not yet wholly understood. The leading theory is that the dehydration reaction, condensation, is the main mediator in the dehydration process in this case. Whatever the mediator, the cause of the staleness is the same; water molecules detach themselves from the starch molecules and the starch molecules begin to take their original shape and harden again. The cool temperatures of the refrigerator make the dehydration process happen more quickly, specifically, about six times as fast via the process listed above. This is why fruit and vegetables can last longer in the refrigerator. In their case, the dehydration process slows the natural degradation caused by the presence of water molecules.
So what should you do if you want you cherish your bread longer?
Ans- FREEZE YOUR BREAD
When storing breads in freezer, make sure the bread is well wrapped so it retains moisture. When you are ready to eat the frozen bread, it’s important to take the bread out and allow it to thaw completely before unwrapping. This will allow the loaf to reabsorb any of the moisture that’s migrated out to the wrapping. Let the bread come to room temperature, then pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees for a warm revitalized loaf. When you reheat bread, it actually changes the starch molecules back, but this also means they can go stale more quickly afterward. So try to eat your reheated breads within an hour or two.