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How to defrost bread

Bring a frozen loaf back to life

While you’re not supposed to store bread in the fridge, you can freeze bread if you think it’s going to go stale or get moldy. But how do you freeze bread so it doesn’t get dry and crusty before you have a chance to enjoy it? And how do you defrost bread properly without destroying it in the process?

The first step is to make sure that no air can get to your loaf while it’s in the freezer. According to the experts at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI, that means removing the bread from its original packaging and either double-bagging the loaf in plastic bags or tightly wrapping it in plastic wrap so that no air can get in. And you want to freeze the bread as soon as you can. As Zingerman’s managing partner Frank Carollo explains, “The fresher the bread is that goes into the freezer, the more moisture will remain in the bread when it comes out of the freezer.”

Carollo doesn’t recommend keeping bread frozen for more than a couple of months, though it’s not necessarily a problem if you do. “There’s nothing that can harm you that will happen,” he says, but the quality of the bread will almost certainly decline the longer it’s kept frozen. “That will allow some of the moisture to condense on the inside of the plastic and at some point, at some length of time you’ll end up having a little freezer burn,” he says.

Once you’re ready to defrost the bread, you have two options. The first is pretty straightforward. Preheat your oven to 350°F, take the bread out of the freezer, remove the plastic, and place the whole frozen loaf into the now-hot oven. Let the loaf bake for about 40 minutes to revive it. While 40 minutes sounds like a long time, this particular procedure works great, according to Carollo, leaving you with bread that smells and tastes like it’s freshly baked (because it kind of is).

If you don’t want to run your oven that long though, you can first let the loaf of bread defrost on your counter for a few hours. Once it’s soft, take the plastic off the bread, and bake the loaf in the oven at 350°F for 10 or 15 minutes. Be sure to keep the loaf inside the plastic wrap as it comes to room temperature. Otherwise you’ll lose all the moisture, and the defrosted bread will be sad and dry.

Don’t try to refreeze defrosted bread. “Once you put it in the oven like this, you should plan to consume whatever whole piece you have at one sitting,” Carollo says. “Heating it up again will release the water cells and make it seem moist and steamy like it just came out of an oven. But then it will lose all of that moisture.” Trying to refreeze the loaf will be pointless because it’ll get rock hard.

That’s why Carollo recommends freezing the loaf in smaller chunks, even going so far as cutting the bread into slices before wrapping it in plastic and freezing. That way, he explains, “you can get a really nice effect by just popping it into a toaster. Then you can eat the loaf one slice at a time for as long as that takes you,” rather than sit there and eat an entire defrosted loaf in a single sitting. (But if that’s what you’re into, there’s no judgment here.)

None of us can resist the bakery’s exquisite bread loaf — baguettes, sourdough, rye. And we end up storing most of it and thinking, “How to defrost frozen bread?”

The first move is to ensure that the loaf gets no air while it’s stored. Take the bread out of its original package and wrap it in plastic as tight as you can, so that there is no contact with air. You also want to make sure that the bread is as fresh as possible before going in the freezer. Storing stale bread is not going to do much.

Before we get into the details, there is a quick and easy way to defrost bread if you run out of time and patience. Preheat your oven to 350 ° F, take the bread from the fridge, cut the plastic and put the whole frozen loaf in the now-heated oven. Let the loaf steam and leave it inside for about 40 minutes. While 40 minutes sounds like a long time, you already did all of the work and the rest is up to the oven. However, we recommend taking a different approach, as detailed below.

How to defrost bread

How to defrost bread

  1. Prepare the Bread for Freezing

If you’re freezing a big hunk of bread, when you’re ready to defrost you might not need it all. So if you want the option to take out individual slices for sandwiches and toast, then the best strategy is to slice them before freezing them. Store the slices in the freezer in a zip-top freezer bag, making sure all of the air is pressed out before sealing.

In case you purchased a good loaf of bread and you want to use the leftovers later, get a big freezer bag and put the rest of the bread inside, properly packed with all the air drained. If it can not fit, break it in two halves. Keep in mind to only freeze the amount of bread you plan to eat in the upcoming days.

  1. We advise against thawing your loaf on the counter

It’s better to thaw it under higher temperatures. Allowing the bread to defrost at room temperature on the counter will actually make it stale. Heating the flour, on the other side, will get the molecules of starch and water to break down the crystalline areas, creating fluffy, ready-to-eat bread.

Do you have frozen slices?

Take out the slices you want to use and put them in the microwave for about 20 to 30 seconds. In case you want to avoid the microwave, an alternative is to use a rimmed baking sheet. Set the temperature at 325 ° F for around five min. In case you like toasted bread, feel free to toast slices of bread straight from the freezer, and add a few minutes to the toasting duration.

How to defrost a loaf of bread

Epi Test Kitchen says you can take a whole loaf of bread and defrost it in an oven at 325 ° F. Wait until it is soft, usually it takes around 25 minutes.

Now that you know how to defrost bread without it getting soggy, there’s no reason not to purchase a decent loaf in your local bakery and have slices stashed away for sandwiches or big chunks of a loaf ready for dinner at any moment.

Want more food tips, looking for wholesale bread suppliers near you? Browse our blogs for more information. We have you covered on all topics related to baking, so check us out!

Here’s how to defrost bread for the best ‘fresh bread out of the oven’ flavour and texture

How to defrost bread

By Anna Cottrell published 9 December 20

Knowing how to defrost bread correctly makes the all-important difference between bread that’s edible and bread that isn’t, so you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it the right way.

Good news is that the fastest way to defrost bread is also the best. Unlike meat, bread doesn’t require slow defrosting in the fridge. Defrosting bread at room temperature is also not a good idea and is likely to result in a stale-tasting loaf. For best results, always use the heat method outlined below.

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How to defrost bread in the oven

This is by far the best method for defrosting whole loaves, but also works for individual slices. Preheat the oven to 160°C/150ºC fan oven/gas mark 3. Wrap the loaf in a piece of baking foil, put on a baking tray and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. If defrosting individual slices, line them out and bake for five to 10 minutes.

How to defrost bread in the microwave

Yes! Microwave defrosting bread is safe and effective, especially if you’re defrosting sliced bread. Take out the individual slices you want to defrost from their packaging and defrost individually on a microwave-safe plate for 15 to 20 seconds each, using a high setting. We don’t recommend defrosting a whole loaf in the microwave as it’s likely to go dry.

How to freeze bread correctly before defrosting

Ultimately, the success of your bread defrosting operation is largely dependent on how the bread was frozen in the first place. Freezing and defrosting slices of bread is undoubtedly easier than defrosting whole loaves – simply take out the number of slices you need and defrost in the microwave or in your toaster if it has a defrosting function.

But say you prefer serving a whole warm loaf with a family meal – then what? Well, the most important thing is making sure your loaf is stored in some kind of protective casing that will prevent moisture getting into it. Cling film and plastic bags are often used, but they’re not environmentally friendly, and you’ll have to unwrap the bread before popping it in the oven. Instead, we recommend using a silicone food storage bag for both storing and defrosting your loaf – they’re safe for both freezers and ovens.

You got ambitious and made a bunch of loaves of bread and decided to freeze them so you could enjoy them at a later date. Now, you want to know the best way to defrost the frozen bread. After all, you spent all that time creating perfect loaves of bread – you don’t want to mess them up now! Knowing the best way to defrost bread will be the difference between a vibrant and a boring loaf.

Defrosting frozen bread does not require a long period of time in your refrigerator as meat does. The best way is, and the quickest way is to put it in the oven on a low temp and “refresh” it in the oven.

Before we go through the steps on the best way to defrost frozen bread, let’s first talk about the best way to freeze it.

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Slice or not to slice? – The best way to freeze bread

When it comes to making a bunch of loaves of bread to be used at a later date, you will want to be sure to freeze it correctly. After all, you want to make sure that all the hard work you put into baking that bread is not lost because you didn’t freeze it properly.

First, consider what the use will be for the bread when you defrost it. We say this because freezing and defrosting slices of bread is quicker and easier than whole loaves. So, if you intend to make sandwiches or have sliced bread for dinner, you may want to slice the bread before freezing.

How to wrap bread to store in the freezer

First, you will need to wrap the bread to prevent moisture from getting into your loaf. You can use plastic wrap or you can use a silicone food storage bag. Next, another layer of protection will protect it from frostbite. Wrap in aluminium foil or store in a box or tub to protect the bread from the direct cold of the freezer. Double wrap with foil for extra protection!

Defrosting slices of bread at room temperature

If you have sliced your bread you can simply remove the number of slices you wish to defrost from the freezer. Place on a plate and cover with a piece of kitchen roll and wrap with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap prevents the bread from drying out too much. Whilst the sheet of kitchen paper will soak up any excess moisture released as the bread defrosts.

Best way to defrost frozen slices of bread in the microwave oven

The best way to defrost slices of bread is at room temperature, but sometimes we just don’t have the time. Thankfully, the microwave will work too! But, you will only want to use the microwave for defrosting individual slices of bread and not a whole loaf, as it will likely dry out.

Just take out the many slices you need. Place them on a microwave-safe dish or plate. Cover with a sheet of kitchen paper, and heat on a high setting for 15 to 20 seconds. You will end up with soft, ready-to-eat slices of bread.

The best way to defrost bread is by baking in the oven

The best way to defrost a whole frozen loaf is to “refresh” it in the oven. You will want to preheat your oven to 410F (210C). If you use the baking stone, you will want to put it in the oven while it preheats. Place the loaf into the oven for 8-22 minutes, depending on the size of the bread. Water can be added to create steam for a shinier crust if you wish. Small rolls and bagels will only need 5-10 minutes.

If you find there that the bread colours too quickly, reduce the temperature of your oven. Bread that is already “well coloured” will need to be baked at 350F (180C). The core of the bread can be tested with a temperature probe to check that it is fully reheated. Check that the temperature is above 131F (55C) before removing.

What does refreshing the bread do?

When bread is at room temperature the starch particles will be changing their structure to become more like their pre-baked state. Freezing slows this down, but when the bread is thawed the starch retrogrades into a weakened state, expelling water in the process. Freezing also dampens many of the bread-like aromas we associate with freshly-baked bread.

By baking, water is retained in the bread, making the outside crispy and keeping the centre moist. The fresh bready aromas and flavours are brought back to life. The bread tastes, smells and feels almost as good as when it came out of the oven the first time!

Can you thaw frozen bread without baking it?

You can let frozen bread loaves defrost at room temperature, instead of baking them. The crust of the loaf will be less crisp and it won’t taste as fresh as if it were baked, but it will definitely be useable.

Get baking in bigger batches!

Making bread is a timely and precise process. Thankfully you can make bread in big batches and freeze them so you can have that warm, fresh bread taste whenever you want. Perfect for family meals, sandwiches, and more.

Unexpected guests? Not a problem when you have some sliced homemade bread in the freezer for making tasty sandwiches. Homemade bread just makes sandwiches better. Not to mention, making your own bread also allows us to control what ingredients we are using!

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How to defrost bread

Remember that loaf of sliced Italian white you stuffed in the freezer? You just came into some prime prosciutto di Parma, so now would be a good time to defrost it. If you’ve done this before only to be disappointed by dry, stale bread, your technique could use some tweaks. We’re here to help: Here are some tips for how to thaw frozen bread, plus how to freeze it correctly in the first place.

How to Prep Bread for Freezing

It’s a sad day when we see our favorite loaf of sourdough creeping towards expiration. If the loaf will go moldy before you can finish it, the freezer can save it from the garbage can. The fresher the bread when it goes in, the fresher it’ll taste when it’s thawed, so freeze it ASAP once you realize it’ll likely go to waste if left out.

First, think about what you’ll use the bread for once it’s thawed. Sandwich bread should be sliced before freezing. Crusty baguettes or loaves that aren’t precut can technically be frozen whole, but cutting them into slices or at least quarters will make defrosting easier. If you *really* for some reason want to leave it whole, just be prepared to wait longer for it to thaw.

Wrap the bread in clear plastic wrap before freezing (either slices or loaves). Don’t skimp, either; a small air gap can leave the bread susceptible to exposure and freezer burn. If the package of bread is unopened, pop the whole thing in its original bag in the freezer. If it’s been opened, remove the original packaging. To freeze individual slices, wrap each in plastic wrap and foil (if you want to be extra safe), then stick them in a freezer bag before storing. This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s your best chance against freezer burn. To freeze a whole loaf, wrap it in plastic and foil, stuff it in a grocery bag or two, wrap it tightly and store. If you’re worried it’ll get crushed, put the whole wrapped loaf in an airtight container. Slices and whole loaves should both last about six months in the freezer.

Whatever you do, don’t store your bread in the fridge. It can speed up the hardening of starch molecules in the bread, making it go stale faster. Store-bought bread contains preservatives that can more or less protect it in the refrigerator (though the freezer is always a better bet), but when it comes to homemade bread, it’s a recipe for trouble.

If You’ve Frozen Individual Slices

Thawing sometimes takes a little patience, but there are a few ways to speed things up. If you froze individual slices, you can pop a frozen slice straight into the toaster or the toaster oven on the defrost setting. You can also use the microwave or oven to prevent being left with stale bread. Place the slices uncovered on a microwave-safe plate and nuke them for 15 to 25 seconds. Don’t have a microwave? Bake them in the oven for a few minutes at 350°F. Both methods help fight retrogradation, the process of starch molecules absorbing the bread’s moisture, which leads to dry, stale bread.

If you have lots of time on your hands, there’s always the old-school method of letting it warm up to room temperature at its natural pace. Set the slices on the kitchen counter and let it slowly defrost. It could take a few hours, so consider taking it out the night before you plan to use it.

If You’ve Frozen a Whole Loaf

It’ll take longer to thaw an entire frozen loaf on the countertop than individual slices, so give yourself enough time to let it warm up. Leaving it in the fridge overnight works too. Once it’s at room temperature, put it on a baking sheet and warm it up in the oven at 350°F for about ten minutes. This helps revive a crispy crust and ensures the center of the loaf is thawed. You can also skip the countertop step and go straight for the oven; it’ll just need to stay in there longer (about a half hour, give or take).

How to Keep Bread Fresh Once It’s Thawed

Air is bread’s biggest threat. It sucks out its moisture, leaving you with a crusty, stale loaf. This is why the best place to store it is wrapped tightly and stashed away at room temperature. If you don’t have a bread box, the microwave will keep air out and maintains steady temperature and humidity.

Just remember that bread shouldn’t be refrozen, so only thaw what you’re going to eat within a day or two max. It’ll harden quickly if it isn’t eaten before then. You also shouldn’t refreeze bread that’s been defrosted. Heating it up releases its moisture and you won’t be able to get it back after a second stint in the freezer.