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I've been using a Panasonic bread-maker for about 20 years; in fact, I'm on my second machine. I use stone-ground wholemeal flours from different mills and, as I can't easily find Stone-ground Strong White in London, use Organic Duchy White.

For a 300 gm loaf, I vary the amount of different flours, usually 100gm of white and the remainder wholemeal, with 270 ml good water, 1 tablespoon demerara sugar, 1.5 to 2 tablespoons light oil, and 3/4 tablespoon of dry quick-yeast.

For storage, I've been using a good wooden bread-bin with lift-off lid for years, but find that the bread now goes mouldy in about 3 days.

Should I try using less oil? Is there something else that would prevent the loaf moulding so quickly?

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    I'm not sure, but it could be that your bread bin is harbouring mould spores. This would explain why it has only started happening recently, and can often happen with wooden bread bins. Clean out the bin well, disinfect it with something non-toxic (maybe alcohol), let it air and dry thoroughly before using it again – canardgras Mar 10 '17 at 14:13
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    That's useful, thank you - and exactly what I thought; I contacted the makers and they had 'never heard of this problem'; so I cleaned the bin thoroughly, sanded bits and re-varnished with their own special varnish; result: more mouldy bread! So I've lived with that for 4 years but 3 weeks ago got fed up, moved the wooden bin to the 'ready to throw away' area and started to use a Tupperware type container, with the lid PLACED on top - not locked: result - more mouldy bread that feels sticky inside after 2 days. I reckon it's something I'm doing.... HELP! Aaaargh! – Mike Lewin Mar 10 '17 at 14:54
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    I would not throw out the bin as it may not be the cause – paparazzo Mar 10 '17 at 15:41
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    Workaround: place the portion you are not going to eat in 2–3 days in the freezer. Bread usually keeps well frozen and thaws out well. – Makyen Mar 10 '17 at 21:44
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    It's kind of scary that we live at a time when bread getting moldy is considered somehow wrong. No, that's what should happen. When it doesn't happen, that's when you should be wondering what the heck is going on... – Mehrdad Mar 11 '17 at 7:46
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Well, I don't think you're doing anything wrong -- I think it's because you aren't using any preservatives in your bread (and that's a good thing, right?). I find my homemade bread has to be eaten in about a week, but I live in a dry climate. A more humid climate might result in it lasting 3-4 days.

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    This is absolutely the right answer. Preservative-free bread both molds faster, but also goes stale faster. Note that even bread from neighborhood bakeries often uses pre-mixed commercial ingredients that contain preservatives. Consider moldy bread a feature, not a bug -- it just means you get to enjoy fresher bread more frequently! – Lonboder Mar 10 '17 at 18:24
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    Google reveals this: In the baking industry, the most commonly used chemical preservatives to prevent mold spoilage are the following: propionates (calcium or sodium propionate), sorbates (sorbic acid and potassium sorbate), benzoates, parabens (methyl and propyl) and acetic acid (Pyler and Gorton, 2008). For what it's worth, if you -really- want to do it, potassium sorbate is relatively easy to acquire, and I believe, is safe(ish). But I can't imagine why anyone who goes through the trouble of making bread at home would want to do this. – Lonboder Mar 10 '17 at 18:30
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    @Lonboder Potassium sorbate isn't really suitable for use in breads because it interferes with the growth of the yeast. – David Schwartz Mar 13 '17 at 1:37
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The rate at which your bread will develop mold is mostly dependent on two factors — humidity and the acidity of the bread. A well baked sour dough loaf ( a boule ) will scoff at your garden variety bread mold for at least a week, usually longer. A softer sandwich loaf made from an enriched dough ( e.g. with added sugar ), is much more fragile.

Try cooking your bread a bit longer, and then let it cool completely on a rack before it goes into your bread box. Also, I'd suggest opening the lid to the breadbox while you let the bread cool to let it dry out completely. This should add a few days to your shelf life.

Changing the acidity may be harder to do. I make bread every other day, but I've never used a bread machine, so I can't give you exact instructions. However, to raise the acidity of your dough, you need a longer bulk ferment at a lower temperature. This will increase the amount of lactic and acetic acid your commercial yeast produces. If you can let the mixed dough sit in the fridge for 24 hours, your bread will taste better and last longer. If that simply doesn't work for you, try a "dough enhancer" as these often contain acetic acid and can help keep your bread fresher for longer. You may want to try experimenting with adding a small amount of cider vinegar. But for taste reasons, using the fridge as a "fermentation retarder" is the way to go.

  • More factors: temperature; the humidity of the bread surface proper; presence of spores; other ingredients (sugar and fat are preservatives in high concentrations; not sure about lower ones); light (light is more theoretical: sunlight is a disinfectant, and mold grows better in the shade; but storing the bread in sunlight is probably not advisable. But one could nuke the mold with a germicidal lamp regularly ;-) ). – Peter - Reinstate Monica Mar 13 '17 at 9:48
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I usually don't use it myself, but adding some salt (3-6 grams would be typical) can somewhat reduce the propensity to mold. Citric acid or a sourdough starter might also help, but will obviously change the flavor quite a bit (salt will also change it somewhat.)

It's also possible that your bread is starting particularly wet, and either should be cooked longer, or needs to be stored (at least initially) in a more-ventilated manner. I generally leave a loaf out overnight the first night, transfer to a paper bag for a few days depending on humidity, and only move to (unsealed) plastic after a few days in paper.

And finally, once there are mold spores around, they are hard to get rid of. A moldy bread box seemed like a good bet, but evidently was not the core of the problem. General and repeated kitchen cleaning may be called for to make a dent in the spores.

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    Thank you everybody for some very useful pointers. To clarify, I NEVER put a loaf in any bin until it's complete cold, and very often leave overnight. I accept the possibility that the bread is starting too wet and I have this morning made a loaf with less water (270ml for 350gm loaf), no oil - just a small amount of butter, very small amount of Dem sugar; it's cooking on the quick programme, which is what I usually use; BUT reading some of your replies (for which MANY THANKS again) maybe the machine's quick programme is not working so well... – Mike Lewin Mar 13 '17 at 10:55
  • If today's loaf has sticky dough in the middle, then it's undercooked and I'll try the normal programme. I use the Quick programme (3 hrs) as nearly all the small UK Mills recommend it over the 'normal (5hrs). – Mike Lewin Mar 13 '17 at 10:56
  • If you do add more salt, it will inhibit mold, but it will also slow down the commercial yeast, and your proofing time will need to be extended as a result. Your loaf should definitely not be sticky in the middle — so yes, I think trying the normal programme would be a very good idea. – TheHarryChannel Mar 21 '17 at 19:12
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I agree with @franko that a lack of preservatives combined with humidity causes mold spores to grow. Just a thought, but because bread boxes are meant to "regulate" the enviroment by restricting airflow, could it be that the bread is too warm when you put it in the breadbox? My thinking is the humidity would be effectively trapped in there resulting in the perfect conditions for mold. Maybe try leaving it on the cooling rack a bit longer?

  • Tx @DanTemkin; as stated in my reply above, I've always ensured the bread is STONE cold before putting it in the bin. Tx again. – Mike Lewin Mar 13 '17 at 10:57
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  • White bread (without preservatives) goes mouldy faster than some types of wholegrain breads. (White flour makes a better breeding ground—the simpler the structure, the easier to "digest" for a simple organism such as moulds. More sugar, less salt, less minerals, more humidity, less acidity, etc. all work in favour of the mould.)

  • Mould is present everywhere. I have found that it's easier to make good bread or other types of fermented products in the countryside. In a big city such as London, the air quality will have an impact on the shelf life of your bread. In particular, in a constantly changing environment it might not be anything you did differently.

  • One way of slowing down the moulding process is to keep the bread in the fridge (or even freezer) and "toast" it before eating. (Toasting will usually revive even stale bread, driving the last bits of humidity into the middle of the bread, the way it was when it came fresh out of the oven.)

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Is there something else that would prevent the loaf moulding so quickly?

You could either install or replace your bread-bin with one that has a UV light. This will kill mold and allow your bread to keep longer.

http://inventgeek.com/uv-mold-free-bread-box/

This probably isn't the type of answer you were looking for but I felt it appropriate for anyone who might not be aware of the benefits of a UV-lit bread box.

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I reckon I've solved the problem and, as stated in my original question, it is something I've been doing: my solution is to reduce the amount of water and also oil. I was putting in more water than the recipe suggested, in order to make a 'lighter' loaf - the stone-ground flour I'm using is pretty 'heavy'. I'd also got in the habit of using 2 to 3 tbsp of light Olive oil. All of this worked for several years and my bread was wonderful (according to guests etc) but went mouldy very quickly.The first loaf I've made with less water and much less fat has NOT gone mouldy after five days (my wife has stopped eating any, yes any bread!) but has made a smaller loaf with much denser texture. Tastes good 'tho. So a HUGE thank-you to all of you who posted replies to my plea, while I have placed myself upon the naughty step. BTW the information about mold spores and wooden bins has been very helpful, so I'm still going to try different containers. For me, putting bread in the fridge or freezing it, absolutely ruins it. I like my bread FRESH!

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    Depending on the adjustability of your robot (breadmaker) increasing the cooking time might let you have both "more liquid/lighter" and "not mould so fast". – Ecnerwal Mar 16 '17 at 16:58
  • Tx - yes, I'd thought of that and will try it! – Mike Lewin Mar 17 '17 at 18:49
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Homemade bread will mold fast because of lack of dough conditioners and other unhealthy additives. You can always slice and freeze, unused portion of first day and toast slices as you need them.

  • Thank you but see my answer at head of page; my homemade bread doesn't have "dough conditioners and other unhealthy additives."! And I never freeze or put bread in the fridge; in my experience, they ruin a fresh loaf. Rgds - Mike L – Mike Lewin Aug 29 '18 at 11:08
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Try wrap your bread in clingfilm or store your bread in a new location. I suspect it might also be the temperature in the room, so it might be worth while moving this to a cupboard.

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