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 flavor. Is there anything natural I can add to it to stop it going moldy so fast?

  • 3
    Could you provide some more details? How fast (day, week)? Are there other ingredients beside water, flour, starter, & salt?
    – papin
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 7:54
  • 1
    Also consider how you're storing it : cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5071/… ; cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/61/…
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 14:20
  • 7
    Apple butter. While not a preservative per se (at all), it will result in the bread being eaten much quicker. :)
    – hobodave
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 16:29
  • 4
    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
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 14:59
  • 5
    Perhaps this "junk" coincidentally makes the store-bought bread last longer...
    – Jan M.
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 14:06

18 Answers 18


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.

  • The bread isn't going hard - we keep it in a plastic airtight container, so that's not an issue.
    – Bluebelle
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 7:33
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    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
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 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
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 7:52
  • The no knead method (long rise/fermentation) will also produce a lot more of the sour stuff.
    – paul
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 4:52

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.

  • Interesting idea - will definitely try this one.
    – Bluebelle
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 7:29
  • 2
    Well I've tried the honey and that worked really well! And it tasted Delicious!!!!!!
    – user24760
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 19:26

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.

  • Yeah, ok - nice solution. Thanks for the thought.
    – Bluebelle
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 7:31

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.


The big problem is touching the bread with your fingers after it is baked. Your finger will put mold spores on your bread.

I have made bread that will last 3 weeks in my tropical climate by the following procedure:

  1. Add 1 gram of calcium propionate to one kilo of flour. Your bread might rise a little slower but you can not taste it.
  2. When the bread is cooled down to room temperature after baking, heat the oven to 100-120 degrees C. Place the bread back in the oven for 5-6 min.
  3. When removing from the oven, don't touch the bread with your hands. Use plastic gloves or an unused plastic bag.
  4. Wrap the bread in cling foil so it is fully covered and untouched.
  5. When you use the bread, cut it through the wrap and use additional foil to cover the cut.
  • Hi and welcome - this was a little tough to read through, so I made a few edits to the formatting. Please feel free to revert if any of these removed key information.
    – logophobe
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 14:54
  • I've found that washing my hands thoroughly before each time I handle the bread has at least doubled the length of time it takes for my bread to go mouldy
    – binaryfunt
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 13:26

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.


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.

  • "Keeps for days" More days than before?
    – jvriesem
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 16:14

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...

  • 3
    This does not sound even remotely appealing.
    – hobodave
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 16:10
  • 2
    @hobodave: Nor does eating week-old bread. :)
    – Arafangion
    Commented Oct 5, 2010 at 13:37
  • 1
    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
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 7:30
  • 3
    I donno, if you put mayo or mustard on your sandwiches…
    – derobert
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 21:41
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    I've had bread made with cider vinegar. It was actually delicious (but it didn't seem to last any longer than bread without vinegar).
    – SourDoh
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 20:39

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.


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.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 14:13

First use 50% white Flour and 50% dark flour. This will help allready to make it last at least a couple of days longer then plain white flour. Also make sure you use Type 00 flour. This also is better to use and last longer. Now it can stay at least a week in very good eatable condition. Using olive oil in stead of butter, and changing sugar into honey, will make sure you can dry store this bread at for 1,5 week before it goed bad.

  • 2
    What do you mean by "dark flour"?
    – logophobe
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 17:51

The best way I've found to keep my homemade bread fresh is to refrigerate it. After it's cooled to room temp I put it in a plastic bread bag and refrigerate. I make 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour bread and this is the only thing that keeps it from going moldy on me before I can finish it. My recipe makes a 2 lb. loaf. I put honey in it instead of sugar, but without the refrigeration still turns moldy within 3-4 days. I've tried adding ascorbic acid powder and a couple other things mentioned and they don't work for me. Just refrigerate.


You should try to make is sourdough. Sourdough keeps a lot longer since it is naturally fermented.


When making the bread dough. What you should do is bake what you need and wrap the unbaked dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge if your going to bake it within a week or two or freeze the dough this way you dont have so much bread going to waste

  • How are you handling the yeast activity during that time? Do you start with very little to account for the long cold rise of the extra dough (in the fridge), or do you just accept the risk of the yeast being “spent” early?
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 7:18
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    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 7:22

When making your sugar and yeast liquid, add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar, this is enough acid to stop bread from growing mould before it is eaten, assuming you make delicious bread in the first place.


Bread pectin. About a teaspoon per cup of flour. You can buy it from Pacific Pectin - a wonderful company. They sell it in smaller quantities than what it says on the website but you have to call them. https://pacificpectin.com/product/pacific-bread-pectin/


Try a little fresh lemon juice, along with the suggested honey from this answer.


Modern 'fast' bread made with store-bought yeast goes stale quickly because the organisms that make it stale can find a home in your fresh bread. Making sourdough using a starter (even if it's not very sour!) means that you have a wide variety of organisms in your bread, so it doesn't go stale mouldy or stale nearly so easily.

I used to make bread with quick-action yeast, and it would go stale in a day or two. I now make it more slowly with my home-grown starter, and it's soft and tasty after a week. Old-fashioned preservative - and much better for you! See How To Make Sourdough Bread Last Longer, Katz explains how it works better in his book "The Art of Fermentation".

  • 4
    Stale bread is not the result of biological activity. Maybe you’re thinking of bread mold? Also, baking bread kills off the fermentation culture, so there aren’t really a “wide variety of organisms” on sourdough bread, any more than on non-sourdough bread. The extra preservative activity, rather, is from the chemicals that the sourdough culture generates during fermentation.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Apr 2, 2021 at 10:28
  • Redirects to some product page now. Archive is web.archive.org/web/20200319131719/https://www.farmdrop.com/… Commented Apr 25 at 15:44
  • Also weird that you'd lead with, "goes stale quickly because the organisms..." then in the next sentence say, "you have a wide variety of organisms in your bread, so it doesn't go stale mouldy or stale nearly so easily." Commented Apr 25 at 15:47

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