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It seems that some of the whole grain loafs seem to dry out very quickly, even stored in a plastic bag - if it hasn't started to turn green, is there a way to restore some of the life back into them?

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  • I live in a very humid climate. The idea of a loaf that is capable of going dry without growing mold makes me really jealous!
    – Dinah
    Aug 20, 2010 at 2:51
  • That's one of downsides of NYC - It can happen in 1 day :>)
    – AttilaNYC
    Aug 20, 2010 at 2:54

4 Answers 4

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It depends. If you need it to soften up for just a little while you can throw it in the mircowave for about 10-15 seconds. And by a little while, I mean the time it takes to make and eat a sandwich. Other than that, you can use the bread for breadcrumbs or croutons. Also, dry bread makes the best french toast you will ever have. Basically, you can't turn back time on a loaf but you can make it last longer by freezing it and thawing a slice at a time.

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    Microwave is not ideal because it heats the water faster than the starch, tending to cause the bread to steam and actually lose moisture. It will make it seem less stale for a minute, but as soon as it cools down it may actually be worse. Aug 20, 2010 at 0:41
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    thus the little while caveat :) Aug 20, 2010 at 1:32
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Yes. Throw it in the oven on about 200 F for 20 minutes or so. The staling process is called retrogradation, and reheating can reverse it to some degree.

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  • How much of a degree? And does it work if you reheat for shorter amounts of time? Aug 20, 2010 at 0:36
  • You basically want to warm it through, so the time will depend on the thickness. You can also cut slices and very lightly toast them for faster action. Aug 20, 2010 at 0:41
  • nice... i'll be using that next time Aug 20, 2010 at 1:33
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    I do this on a higher heat, say 300-350, and also wet the outside of the bread with water until lightly damp but not soggy. On that heat it only takes 5-10 minutes and gets pretty good results.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 20, 2010 at 2:55
  • Adding a stick of celery inside the plastic container with the bread - has anyone tried that?
    – AttilaNYC
    Aug 21, 2010 at 12:38
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I have to disagree with the simple reheating method. Bread goes stale through a loss of moisture. Applying dry heat simply doesn't do much beneficial besides toast your stale bread.

Put the bread in a brown paper bag, dampen the top of the bag with water, and then microwave for a few seconds.

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    That's not accurate. Yes, some moisture is lost to the outside world, but most of the staling is the starch degelatinization, and reheating above the gelatinization temperature allows it to soften. You can read a ton about it in McGee, or here is a summary on wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staling Aug 20, 2010 at 4:03
  • @Michael, @hobodave - I find that this technique works extremely well. I haven't checked up on how bread goes stale lately (but thanks for the link), but it does seem to help to add moisture.
    – justkt
    Aug 20, 2010 at 12:53
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Cut it up and toast to make croûtons, or crumble into bread crumbs. Your bread will enjoy new life in a salad or other dish.

If your bread is coming pre-sliced and drying out quickly, try buying unsliced loaves and slicing it as you need it. It's a bit more work, but your bread will taste fresher longer (and as a bonus, you get to decide on the thickness you want).

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