Close-up of a person's hand cutting bread

Is your refrigerator running? Well, don’t put your bread in it.

The truth is, if you want to keep your bread fresher for longer, wrapping it in plastic and storing it in the fridge is the worst thing you can do.

It sounds counter-intuitive (no pun intended), seeing as how refrigerators were invented to help us preserve the freshness of food. So to understand why, Serious Eats broke it down into the science of “retrogradation and recrystallization of starch,” a complicated way of saying that during a bread’s lifetime (which begins when a bread cools after being heated during baking), its starches (which were rearranged when baked) will regroup back to their original, crystallized state. Thus, your bread becomes hard, or stale.

Putting it into the fridge simply hustles this process along.

So what should you do if you want you cherish your bread longer?

David Norman, of Austin’s popular bakery and beer garden, Easy Tiger, said to start by buying whole loaves, not sliced bread, as a bread’s shelf life is significantly reduced once it’s sliced. Cut off what you want to eat, and if you’re planning on finishing the loaf in the next couple days, set the loaf cut-side down against the table, he told The Kitchn.

Say you bought your bread in bulk? The best way to halt that recrystallization process is to keep it in the freezer: Wrap it in an airtight container or bag to store it; then let it completely thaw before taking it back out of the container.

To see how long your loaf might last, check out this handy chart by Eat By Date.

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