Ina Garten's Hack For Freezing Bread Is A Game-Changer

Fresh bread is one of life's great pleasures, especially when you eat it hot with fresh butter. But if you visit your local bakery and buy a loaf of bread, there's always the possibility that you won't finish it before it gets stale or moldy. And what a crime that would be.

Maybe your favorite bakery takes some time to get to, so you only go once a month to stock up on your favorite items. Maybe you work long hours or eat out for a lot of your meals, or maybe bread is a rare treat. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself missing out on eating all the wonderful bread you've bought, kitchen goddess, Ina Garten has a trick for saving it that's so simple, you might feel silly for not having thought of it yourself first. 

In a 2019 interview with Food & Wine, Garten explained that rather than freezing the entire loaf or trying to freeze individual slices, it's best to cut the loaf into chunks before you freeze it. While you might think that it's easier to freeze the entire loaf, there's a reason that this method works better than others. 

Freezing chunks helps bread stay fresh

Whenever you freeze something, the idea is to keep the item from being exposed to freezer burn. That's one of the reasons freezer storage bags are thicker than those that stay at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Freezer burn is bad, bad news for your food, especially for items that you're freezing to retain their original texture.

When it comes to freezing bread, slices will be too much at risk for getting freezer burn, as the entire slice is exposed to the cold. And if you slice an entire loaf and then freeze it, there's always the possibility that the slices will stick together and be hard to break apart. 

Freezing an entire loaf of bread uncut doesn't do you any favors if you're not accustomed to finishing an entire loaf when you buy it fresh. If you're saving a large loaf of bread for a family gathering or dinner party, you can freeze the entire loaf and then defrost it and slice it when you're ready to serve. But if you live alone or don't eat much bread in your household day to day, cutting the loaf into four equal chunks is the perfect hack. Don't forget to wrap it tightly in foil before freezing. Then, place the wrapped bread in a freezer storage bag. If you baked the bread yourself, be sure to let it cool before cutting and wrapping it so the foil isn't laden with too much moisture. 

How to defrost bread like a pro

When it's time to enjoy frozen bread, defrost the smaller sections as needed. For best results, leave the bread chunks in the foil you wrapped them in, then warm each chunk in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and slice the chunk with a bread knife at your desired thickness. The bread should feel soft and fresh, with a slightly crusty texture to the crust. It should still have its original tender and chewy inner texture when it comes out of the oven. 

If the bread is still frozen in the middle, give it another 10 minutes and see how it comes out. For more of a crusty exterior, open the foil before baking it. 

If you're hoping for your bread to be room temperature for sandwiches, try defrosting the chunks in the refrigerator overnight the night before you want to eat it. Then slice it as you normally would. With these tricks up your sleeve, you can buy fresh bread from your favorite bakery and enjoy the entire loaf from start to finish.