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How long does sourdough bread last?

How long does sourdough bread last? If you’re like most people, you probably have a love-hate relationship with sourdough bread. You love the taste, but you hate how quickly it goes bad. But what if we told you that there’s a way to make sourdough bread last longer?

The smell of freshly baked sourdough is one of the most delightful things. Almost anyone can make homemade sourdough bread thanks to the widely available ingredients.

In this article, we’ll share some tips on storing sourdough bread and how to extend its shelf life. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy that delicious sourdough flavor for weeks to come!

cutting board with sliced sourdough bread

What is Sourdough Bread?

Put simply, sourdough bread uses a sourdough starter as a natural leavening agent, unlike other kinds of bread that rely on commercial yeast. Because of this, it undergoes a slow and long fermentation process that breaks down gluten, making it easier for the body to digest and absorb.

Sourdough bread undergoes two phases of fermentation. During the first phase, the yeast in the bread rises, creating air pockets and holes in the bread. In the second phase, lactobacillus does its thing and creates a tangy flavor and a lasting shelf life.

How Long Does Sourdough Bread Last

Typically, the sourdough loaf can last from 2 days to 3 months, depending on the type of bread and the method you use to store it. After all, several factors affect the shelf life of bread.

Sourdough bread stay fresh and lasts longer than other bread types because of the lactic acid bacteria that slow down the staling process. Additionally, its acidity prevents the growth of microbes.

Another factor is storage because the way the bread is stored influences the shelf life of the bread. Finally, the climate also affects how long bread is good for. The dry weather makes it very easy for bread to lose its moisture. Conversely, a humid environment exposes bread to too much moisture, making it a good breeding ground for mold.

How To Test Bread For Freshness

The best way to test if the bread is still fresh is to do the knife test. Get a serrated knife and slice through the bread.

  • A bread that’s still fresh will be difficult to slice because it is still moist and elastic.
  • Dried bread will be easy to slice because it has lost most of its moisture and, therefore, has a semi-hard texture that makes it easier to slice.
  • Lastly, bread that has gone stale is too dry and hard, making it difficult to slice.

How To Know When Sourdough Bread Has Gone Bad

Determining whether your sourdough bread is still good to eat or not is crucial when it comes to food safety. For this reason, it is best to know the signs that sourdough bread has gone bad. If you have doubts about its safety, it is always best to throw it and not take any risk.

Three Sings Of Bad Sourdough Bread

1. Presence of molds

Probably the most apparent sign that sourdough bread has gone bad is the presence of molds. Immediately throw away moldy bread because it is not safe to eat anymore, even if you cut the moldy portion away.

Remember that just because bread doesn’t have molds doesn’t mean it has not gone bad. Check for other signs of spoilage, like a funky smell and a bad taste.

2. Off smell

Another way to know if sourdough bread is not fit for consumption is when it gives off a foul odor that is far from enticing. If it does not smell like it smelled when it was fresh, it is best to throw it out.

Again, if your sourdough still smells great, it does not automatically mean it is still good. Check for mold growth and foul taste.

3. Foul taste

Yet another one of the signs that sourdough bread has gone bad is when it actually tastes terrible. To be safe, proceed to taste the bread only if it smells fine and does not have mold.

Take a small bite, just enough for you to taste the bread. If it tastes terrible, instantly spit it out, rinse your mouth, and throw the bread away. 

Dried vs. Stale Sourdough Bread

Drying and staling in sourdough bread can be confusing. People use these terms interchangeably, but they are two different bread conditions.

Drying simply refers to dehydration or the loss of moisture that occurs when bread is exposed to air or heat.

On the other hand, staling happens when the starch in the bread that was formerly gelatinized through the baking process recrystallizes, resulting in a rigid and firm texture.

How To Revive Stale Sourdough Bread

Staling is a reversible process, so having stale bread doesn’t necessarily mean it’s spoiled, and you have to throw it out. Sourdough bread can still be revived if it does not have any of the above-mentioned signs.

 Here are two ways to revive stale sourdough bread:

The Oven Method

Splash some water over the top of the bread to dampen it. Set the oven to 250°F and place the loaf of sourdough bread inside for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch it closely; leaving it for too long in the oven will dry it out.

The Microwave Method

Dampen a towel and wrap it around the sourdough bread. Place the bread on a microwave-safe dish and place it inside the microwave for ten seconds. The sourdough should be warm and soft after 10 minutes; if not, do it again until you achieve desired results.

How To Keep Sourdough Bread Fresh

Maintaining the bread’s moisture optimum is the key to keeping it fresh. Here are some tips to keep sourdough bread fresh:

  • Never store it in the fridge. Refrigerators are too dry and too cold for bread. Instead of preserving it, keeping it in the refrigerator makes it stale faster.
  • Avoid too much exposure to air. Anything that dries it will not help maintain the bread’s freshness.
  • Avoid slicing the loaf, If you are not going to eat it yet. Keeping the loaf intact helps keep bread fresh because it keeps the moisture in, while sliced bread lets moisture escape.
  • In humid conditions, wrap the whole loaf in a tea towel or linen bread bag. Doing so will prevent too much moisture in the environment from affecting the bread.

How To Store Sourdough Bread

Storage is crucial for sourdough bread because where you store it will ultimately impact its quality.

Here are 4 ways to appropriately store sourdough bread:

Freeze bread slices.

Keeping bread in the freezer is also a great way to store them. Do it properly, and you can enjoy sourdough bread for a long time. This is recommended if you have multiple loaves and you know it will take a long time before you can consume them all.

Store it in a bread box.

Bread boxes are specifically made to store bread because they keep it safe from too much moisture while allowing adequate airflow that prevents it from drying out.

That being said, storing bread in a bread box is the best way to keep it if you know you will be able to eat it quickly.

Place it in an airtight container.

If you plan to leave sourdough loaves on the counter, you should store them in an airtight container. Before doing so, ensure the bread has reached room temperature first.

In the absence of a bread box, an airtight container can keep the moisture in and slow down the process of the bread staling just as well.

Use a plastic bag or a freezer bag to store it.

If you don’t have access to a bread box or an airtight container, keeping the bread in a plastic wrap or heavy-duty freezer bag will help retain the moisture and avoid drying. This works exceptionally well in dry and humid environments.

How To Freeze Sourdough Bread

Freezing sourdough bread is one of the best things you can do to prolong its life.

In the freezer, sourdough can maintain its freshness, and the flavor will continue to develop inside. Depending on how long the bread has been in the freezer, you will be surprised that some will taste better than when you first tried it.

Here are the steps to freeze sourdough bread:

  1. Wait for the bread to cool completely. 
    Before freezing bread, ensure the freshly baked bread has thoroughly cooled. Remember that the bread is still cooking as it cools, so immediately freezing it interrupts the cooking process and gives you a bad texture. Also, slicing the bread before freezing it is necessary, and doing so while it is still hot is not recommended.
  2. Slice the entire loaf.
    Slicing the loaf allows you to take out exactly how much you need each time. Remember that once you take the bread out of the freezer and reheat it, you cannot refreeze it anymore. For this reason, it is best to freeze sliced bread instead of whole loaves.
  3. Flash freeze the bread slices.
    Lay bread slices flat on a tray so they will not touch each other. Place them in the freezer for about 10 minutes, just enough to freeze the exterior of each slice. This is a necessary step because it prevents the slices from sticking to each other during the actual freezing process.
  4. Stack the slice in a heavy-duty resealable freezer bag.
    Place all bread slices in a freezer bag. Since you will be taking it out every time you need bread, it is best to use a resealable and heavy-duty one. Frozen bread is good for up to 6 months, so label the bag with the date to know when you put it in.

Ways To Use Stale Sourdough Bread

Throwing out leftover bread without any signs of spoilage should be the last thing on your mind because there are plenty of uses for sourdough bread even after it has gone stale.

Here are a few ways to use stale bread:

  • Make bread crumbs. Place leftover bread in a food processor, after processing store the crumbs in an airtight container. Use them in coating meat, add them to meatballs, or simply sprinkle them over pasta for an added crunch.
  • Bake croutons. Chop bread slices into big cubes, toss them with melted butter and garlic salt, and then bake the bread for 20 minutes until it is crisp. Use croutons to add texture to the vegetable salad, or serve them alongside soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does sourdough bread last longer than regular bread?

Yes, sourdough bread does last longer than ordinary bread. It contains substantially more lactic acid than other types of bread due to the fermentation process that the sourdough starter underwent, which is unique to sourdough bread. Because lactic acid inhibits mold formation, sourdough bread resists mold better and has a longer shelf life than other kinds of bread.

When should you throw out sourdough bread?

Throw out your sourdough bread if you notice any of the following:

  • appearance of molds
  • foul smell
  • funky taste

Final Thoughts

Sourdough bread can last for a very long time because it has special properties brought about by the unique fermentation process that it goes through. For this reason, sourdough bread can still be good after 5 days at room temperature. When frozen, it can last for up to 6 months.

Despite its incredibly long shelf life, sourdough bread can still go bad, especially when not stored properly. Check for signs of spoilage closely before consuming it. When in doubt, don’t put yourself at risk – just throw it away.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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