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I love making our own bread - we rarely buy shop bought, but it tends to go off very quickly. Part of the appeal is that it doesn't have any "junk" in it - artificial preservatives - which I'm sure contributes to the lovely flavour. Is there anything natural I can add to it to stop it going mouldy so fast?

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Could you provide some more details? How fast (day, week)? Are there other ingredients beside water, flour, starter, & salt? –  papin Oct 4 '10 at 7:54
    
Also consider how you're storing it : cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5071/… ; cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/61/… –  Joe Oct 4 '10 at 14:20
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Apple butter. While not a preservative per se (at all), it will result in the bread being eaten much quicker. :) –  hobodave Oct 4 '10 at 16:29
    
It tends to go off in a week. We use yeast, strong white flour, butter, sugar, salt, water. –  Bluebelle Oct 8 '10 at 7:28
    
Just to add to other answers, another thing that will help is to let the bread rest outside of the oven/machine for at least 3-4 hours until it is completely cooled prior to bagging/storing. You will notice a marked difference in the shelf life if you do this. –  Matthew Jul 24 '13 at 14:59
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10 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

My whole wheat bread takes 4x to go off than my white bread. Even a mixture of 50% whole wheat flour will make it last longer. But that will only help if the problem is the bread getting hard too soon. That can also be prevented by keeping it in a plastic bag. You'll get the mold before the bread goes stale.

If you're keeping the bread in a plastic bag, try paper bags.

To solve the mold problem, the traditional way is to add some acidity. For example, you can add a sourdough starter. If you don't like the taste of sourdough, a poolish starter should also help. The bacteria it grows will prevent the mold growing.

I know it's not what you're asking, but freezing will also help. When you bake more bread than you eat, freeze it wrapped in a plastic bag and thaw it overnight and you will get a good, fresh bread.

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The bread isn't going hard - we keep it in a plastic airtight container, so that's not an issue. –  Bluebelle Oct 8 '10 at 7:33
    
I will think about the sourdough idea but I've never heard of poolish - what is that? Or should I ask it as another question?! –  Bluebelle Oct 8 '10 at 7:34
    
@Bluebelle I think that's a big topic worth another question. I made a quick search but nobody has asked that yet here. –  Julio Oct 8 '10 at 7:52
    
The no knead method (long rise/fermentation) will also produce a lot more of the sour stuff. –  paul Aug 26 '11 at 4:52
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Rather than adding a preservative, slice whatever bread you can't eat within one or two days (or whatever period it is before your bread goes 'off') and freeze it wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Whenever you'd like some of that bread, either thaw it in advance or warm in a toaster or toaster oven before eating.

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Yeah, ok - nice solution. Thanks for the thought. –  Bluebelle Oct 8 '10 at 7:31
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Honey is considered a natural preservative. Try adding 2 Tbsp of honey, or replacing the sugar in your recipe with honey.

Do a google search for 'honey natural preservative' and you'll find lots of references.

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Interesting idea - will definitely try this one. –  Bluebelle Oct 8 '10 at 7:29
    
Well I've tried the honey and that worked really well! And it tasted Delicious!!!!!! –  Laura May 5 at 19:26
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One commercial bread company has switched preservatives... They use vinegar (I suspect ordinary white vinegar).

Maybe you could give a little bit of vinegar a go and see how that works? You can still smell it if you sniff and sandwiches do have a faint vinegar flavour, but it seems to work well enough for the company and it apparently hasn't sabotaged the product line...

Then again, it /is/ commercial bread...

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(Heck, just go with Julio's answer!) –  Arafangion Oct 4 '10 at 13:42
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This does not sound even remotely appealing. –  hobodave Oct 4 '10 at 16:10
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@hobodave: Nor does eating week-old bread. :) –  Arafangion Oct 5 '10 at 13:37
    
Interesting answer, but I'm sorry - I'm with hobodave on this one. The idea of my sandwiches having a faint vinegar flavour isn't something I'm happy with! –  Bluebelle Oct 8 '10 at 7:30
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I donno, if you put mayo or mustard on your sandwiches… –  derobert Jan 6 '11 at 21:41
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Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a natural preservative. A little also helps the yeast grow (you will find it in many commercial dough enhancers). When I make bread I use Fruit Fresh, a powdered vitamin C with some sugar used to preserve fruit in canning and freezing. I use about 1/4 teaspoon per loaf. I don't know if that is enough to provide additional preservative power, but it is worth a try as it has no downside. Of course you can just get some vitamin c tablets and crush them but it will take some experimentation to figure out how much to add.

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You can also use citric acid, I use about a 1/2 tsp of citric acid. It does not do anything for the taste it just perserves. Also, push your dough down and let it rise more than once, I push mine down after the first rise then after the second then on the third I put it in my bread pan and let it rise again but this time in the oven, then after it rises I turn on the oven. It also makes for a lighter bread, more wholes helps it breath better when stored.

Hope it helps.

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I don't know if the small amount of acid helps with preservation. It would certainly make chewier bread (due to the better gluten creation), which does not feel hard as soon as soft, low-gluten bread does. But I have trouble believing the second part. In my experience, the denser the crumb, the longer bread holds. A multi-rise process certainly helps make tastier bread, but if anything, I would expect it to have a negative effect on storage lifetime. –  rumtscho Jul 24 '13 at 14:13
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Try a little fresh lemon juice, along with the suggested honey from this answer.

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I have read bread labels that list preservatives; one was calcium propionate and sorbic acid found in Thomas English Muffins. You can look at your own bakery's labels and see if you can obtain the preservative from the baker, grocer, or drugstore.

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I bake sourdough bread and if I put in clean sealed plastic bags it molds in 3-4 days. I finally gave up storing it in the bread box. I freeze the extra loaves when I bake. To keep the sourdough from going bad I now keep it in the fridge. I keep it in sealed plastic bags and add a couple of saltine crackers as a moisture absorbent. Keeps for days.

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Although they will materially change the profile of the bread you are baking, dried fruits will do a lot to keep bread from molding, especially raisins. Cinnamon will also do this, but will reduce the activity of the yeast in the rising bread as well.

A dear friend of mine is from Greece, and he once told me a story that before WWII, no one in Greece really ate cinnamon raisin bread. But after the war, huge amounts of it was flown in from the USA to feed the hungry population, chosen because it was known to keep for long periods of time. Apparently, now it is a common thing to eat there.

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