I sell bread at farmers markets. It gets moldy very fast. How can I get them to last longer?

  • 3
    Do you wear gloves when handling?
    – moscafj
    Mar 30, 2020 at 13:25

5 Answers 5


Without preservatives in the bread your bread won't last as long as store-bought, but there are some things you can do to make it last longer:

  1. Proof the bread longer, thus creating more acid in the bread. This will help preserve it.
  2. Make sure it is fully baked and a little drier. Cool it fully on a rack before storing, allowing more steam to exit the loaf
  3. Store it in a cool, dry, dark place.
  4. A little extra salt in the recipe may help.
  5. If you live in a humid area, try some kind of desiccant or dehumidifier.
  • Hi myk yes I wear gloves sprayed with pam lol Mar 30, 2020 at 15:19
  • Hi myk should I add a preservative like ascorbic acid to the dough and what amt I usually make sundried tomato or jalapeno cheddar also how can I improve the flavor they are really not tasting what I'm hoping for they rise beautifully but the mold starts after day 3 oh I'm also using a biga starter thanks for a help and suggestions Mar 30, 2020 at 15:21
  • 1
    Ascorbic acid is an excellent option. Keep in mind that it will amplify your yeast activity. I did not mention because I thought you were trying to avoid any kind of preservatives. This will definitely help with your problem, though.
    – myklbykl
    Mar 30, 2020 at 15:57
  • 1
    letting the loaf sit out to properly release some extra moisture is very important. Let it sit at least until it reaches room temperature all the way through, if not for several hours longer. But adding extra salt seems like a bad idea: the interaction between yeast, sugar and salt needs to be carefully controlled. The amount of extra salt that would be needed to achieve any noticeable preservative effect will throw that balance way out of proportion. It would change how the loaf rises, and would probably impart a noticeable salty taste.
    – Z4-tier
    Mar 31, 2020 at 4:00
  • Agreed that you need to be careful with salt as too little or too much will alter yeast propagation. But a little extra salt should ameliorate the mold situation somewhat without adversely affecting the crumb if you proof it properly. I have experimented with different measures of salt and have created really good breads with some extra salt. Salt is hygroscopic and will inhibit bacterial growth. Even brushing on the top of the loaf should help. If anyone has any specific science or research on this topic I'd be very interested to learn more about it as I'm just going off personal experience.
    – myklbykl
    Mar 31, 2020 at 5:35

You mentioned in a comment on myklbykl's answer that you include mix-in ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, jalapenos, and cheddar, which sounds delicious! However, that also means that you will have more overall moisture and more starting points for mold to take hold than you would when making a plain bread. That could be contributing to the faster molding. As I'm sure you know if you left cheddar or jalapenos out at room temperature they would fairly quickly spoil and grow moldy.

This may or may not be something you can change given your baking style, but you could experiment with drying out those ingredients somewhat before baking to reduce their final moisture content.

As another experiment to determine if those ingredients are in fact part of the mold problem you could try making two loaves at the same time, one with the extras, and one without. Then store them the same way and see how long each takes to mold. I would suggest that method (which is a simplified type of the scientific method) when testing different recipes. You will only know if something like ascorbic acid makes a difference in the shelf life and flavor if you are comparing it directly with a control (meaning a loaf that is done your normal way)

  • Hi Kevin thanks for the suggestions and ideas maybe I can use fresh roasted jalapenos instead of jars and drain and dry the tomatoes will let you know thanks again Mar 31, 2020 at 3:22
  • @MelanieGarland I think both of those could help, anything that reduces pockets of moisture will slow any mold growth that tries to take hold. Also in my opinion fresh roasted jalapenos are going to be absolutely delicious on an artisan bread.
    – Kevin
    Mar 31, 2020 at 14:45

You don't.

Hang a big sign over your stall saying "Artisan bread has no additives. If it had all the chemicals in it that supermarket bread does, it would last as long. But you don't want the chemicals, do you? So eat it while it's delicious!"

This is something which just needs consumers educating about what proper bread is like. It should last two days, kept in a box, but it won't be as good the second day. If you go to France, bread is something you buy fresh every day, and that's just how it works. And that's why French bread is the best in the world, because their customers know what it should taste like.

Bread does freeze well though. Your customers could easily put the loaf in the freezer as soon as they get back, and it'll last for months (or until it gets eaten). I tend to make rolls instead of loaves, because it's very convenient to bag them and freeze them. Then for lunches I can just defrost a couple at a time.

  • Hi Graham lol love it I guess they dont really understand the concept I even have typed instruction with each bread explaining how to store freeze and reheat all of my breads are made with k.a. bread flour and usually either a poolish or biga thanks again and I am definitely stealing that sign Mar 31, 2020 at 3:28

Ultraviolet light?

uv bread box


UV kills spores and airborne microbes. I wondered - has it ever been studied for preventing bread mold? Yes!

But according to the folks at InventGeek, it actually does its job, increasing the shelf life of bread by about 50%, and preventing any mold from growing on the exterior of the bread (it may still grow inside, however).

Germicidal UV lights are available off the shelf. Or were; maybe in the days of covid they have all been bought. In any case, you could make a UV bread chest that you bring to the farmers market. Opening it would be like opening a box containing kryptonite, or the trunk of that car in Repo Man.

  • Hmmm lol I can definitely imagine the comments Mar 31, 2020 at 3:30
  • I can buy the bit about preventing mold. That makes sense. But bread (for me anyway) will go stale way before it gets moldy, so I don't see how this could possibly extend the shelf life in that case. But this is still pretty clever.
    – Z4-tier
    Mar 31, 2020 at 4:05

Does being German qualify me to give an answer here? ;-).

I recently wanted to buy a specific bread at our local organic artisanal bakery. The clerk said "I'll happily sell it to you but be aware that it has a shorter shelf life than the other breads because it is not a sour dough bread but a pure yeast dough."

Most whole grain and other non-white breads sold here in artisanal bakeries are sour dough breads made in a lengthy and multi-stage process involving a sourdough starter. The resulting acidity results in a bread which has a longer shelf life (maybe 4 days at room temperature) than bread which has been baked just with yeast.

Another detail which may be surprising to Americans is that even pre-sliced industrial bread in plastic bags here usually does not contain preservatives. This is true even for sliced toast bread, which, I suppose, is not a sour dough bread. It still has a shelf life of two weeks or so at room temperature. (The shelf life is reduced to a few days once the bag is opened, probably introducing mold (spores) into the bag.)

I suppose that this is achieved by packaging the bread in a clean environment at 60 centigrades (140 Fahrenheit) or higher, resulting in a pasteurized product. In particular, some mold spores will still be present, but not many live cells. The packaging of such bread is an airtight plastic bag which makes it impossible to retain a crunch crust. You could try experimenting with packaging materials which keep micro-organisms out but are somewhat vapor-permeable, preserving some of the crispness. After all, you are not aiming at 2 weeks but perhaps at a shelf life of 4 or 5 days. I have seen paper bread packaging which has intermittent plastic stripes, reducing the loss of water vapor over time.

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