Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market: How to Store Breads

Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market vendor Jane Varley of Varely Valley Products shares her secrets for storing and freezing bread:

Jane shares:

I am often asked "How long does your bread stay fresh?" and "Can I freeze it?"

Unlike store-bought bread, there are no preservatives in my bread. As such, I feel it is best eaten within 2 to 3 days. However, my friends call me a “bread snob” and insist that it stays good for close to a week. (To me, I just don’t like it when it starts to lose some of its moistness. Most of my customers tell me that they still enjoy it even a week after it is made.)"

Different breads will stay moist for different amounts of time:

- In general, the plain white breads will hold the longest.

- Breads with dried fruits will typically dry out the fastest.

- It is fine to store it in the refrigerator to extend the freshness for a day or two (always keep the bag sealed). However, bread will be crumbly when it is cold – let it warm to at least room temperature before eating it.

- Most breads can also be kept it in the freezer for up to a month. If you want to use it slice by slice, you can slice it first and then freeze it. This will cause it to freezer-burn a bit faster, but is fine if you are going to use it in about 3 weeks. (Note: freezer-burned bread is dry and hard, even at room temperature. It could still be used for bread crumbs.)

- During the heat of summer, conditions are less than ideal at the farmer’s market. I try to keep my bread out of the sun, but sometimes that is impossible to do. If your bread has beads of water on the inside of the bag when you get your bread home, it is best to place it in a different (dry) bag (or just turn the bag inside-out). Otherwise, the bread might get soggy spots and/or develop mold faster. This is moisture that has evaporated out of the bread and condensed on the bag. Since it does reduce the moisture in the bread a little bit, you might find that your bread will last a day or two less than during cooler weather.

I put the baking date on all of the baked goods that I make. Usually the baking date is the day before the market. Since I spend about 18 hours baking, it is not possible to bake the day of the market and have it all loaded in my car by 2 pm.

If you feel that you will not be able to eat a full loaf of bread before it gets stale, please let me know. I am typically able to sell you a half loaf – all you have to do is ask!

Thanks, Jane.

Visit Varley Valley Products week at the market!

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