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Can You Fix Stale Bread?

A loaf of bread is sliced with a knife.
Anna Grishenko/Shutterstock.com

You’ve had your loaf of bread for a little longer than you probably should have, and now, it has gone stale. But you really want that sandwich you’ve been craving for lunch and don’t want to order out. So, can you fix it?

As it turns out, you can fix stale bread!

Your bread becomes stale because the starches begin to crystallize and water incorporates into the structure. It’s called retrogradation. Essentially, when bread is baked, water hydrates those starches causing them to gelatinize and become soft. Retrogradation reverses that softness via crystallization. But the good news is that the water is still there, and that means you can reverse it.

Granrosi Bread Box for Kitchen Countertop

Be sure you're storing bead correctly to keep it as fresh as possible.

For individual slices, it’s as simple as toasting it, but if you want to refresh an entire loaf, you’ve got a delicate balance to achieve. You don’t want water to evaporate as you heat the loaf and bring back the moisture. You also want to make sure the bread has enough moisture to recover. This means that certain types of bread will require slightly different techniques.

For non-crusty bread, you’ll wrap the loaf in aluminum foil and place it on the middle rack of a cold oven (do not preheat!). Then, turn your oven on and set the temperature to 300 degrees. In about 30 minutes, remove the foil. Then, return the loaf to the oven for five minutes to get it crisp again.

If you’ve got crusty bread (think baguettes) to revive, the process is the same with one difference. You’ll skim the bread briefly under a running faucet of cold water. Then, proceed with the above steps.

Keep in mind that this trick only works temporarily, so you’ll want to eat the bread immediately. And if you don’t have time to freshen your bread, there are still plenty of things to do with stale bread.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Editor In Chief of LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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