Whenever I buy bread, it's flavor and texture is amazing in the first day. The bread is humid and soft. In 2 or 3 days, it gets hard. Is there some trick to renew the bread to a nicer state?

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    Your bread will take longer to get stale if you keep it away from direct sunlight and out of the refrigerator. – Kate Gregory Mar 27 '14 at 19:47

While it is never possible to restore bread to its fresh baked glory, toasting can help.

The main staling mechanism in bread is the re-crystalization of the formerly gelatinized starches, making the bread seem hard and dry.

Toasting heats the bread up, and helps the starches re-gelatinize, and so can help mitigate the staleness, although it is not a complete cure.

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    I usually put it in the oven on a backing sheet with a small container (over proof) of water. – Max Mar 27 '14 at 17:02
  • Agree with Max: toast with water in the oven, and it is good to eat while still warm, reverts back to unpleasant upon cooling. – rumtscho Mar 27 '14 at 17:04

The trick I learned from my grandfather is harder to do these days because of the prevelance of plastic bags:

  1. Heat your oven.
  2. Wet down the inside of a paper bag.
  3. Place the loaf of bread in the paper bag, and fold it over to seal
  4. Place the paper bag in the oven.
  5. Extract it before the paper looks like it's getting crispy.

As rumtscho mentions in his comment, once it cools back down, it can firm back up, but I find that it'll take longer than just warming it up in a dry oven. (I don't know if it's an issue with extra heat being transfered in the water, so it takes longer to cool, or if there's something chemical going on).

And as I'll probably get questions about what oven temperature -- whatever temp you're baking everything else at. If you're not cooking anything else, try 300F / 150C ... it's most important to heat it up to generate steam on the inside of the bag, but not so hot that the bag combusts.

(white paper bags are better than brown in my opinion, as you can see 'em starting to char a little bit to signal when to remove them)

  • I should mention that you can remove 'em before the bag starts to char ... it's just that you really need to remove it if that starts to happen. – Joe Mar 27 '14 at 23:53
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    This is exactly how I freshen up bread and bread rolls, but as @Joe says, it is getting hard to do because paper bags are becoming rare, except at farmer's markets and the likes. It will only freshen bread the once though and after it cools down, it would seem to be more stale than it was before. That is because the residual moisture has evaporated as steam, effectively recooking the bread. "Rejuvinating" bread this way also smells delicious -- like a bakery. – user28908 Nov 9 '14 at 1:34

Bread actually gets stale because it has gotten too moist, not because it's actually dry as common sense would indicate. Put it in the oven at a low temperature for a while and it should be better.

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    Aren't they the same thing? – alex-e-leon Mar 27 '14 at 22:34
  • Oh, hahah, I miswrote that. The bread has become too moist when it gets stale. D'oh! Edited the original post. – user3341874 Mar 28 '14 at 0:52
  • This is incorrect. If the bread gets moist, it will harbor mold and spoil. Staling is a different mechanism. – SAJ14SAJ Mar 29 '14 at 1:48

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