Introduction: 3 Ways to Revive Stale Bread

Picture of 3 Ways to Revive Stale Bread

Three simple and easy ways to save your stale bread.



There are few things that are as delicious as a fresh baked loaf of bread hot out of the oven. It's also hard to eat an entire loaf of bread while it is at it's freshest. Keeping bread fresh is a losing battle, from the moment it is done baking it begins to lose it's moisture through a process called starch retrogradation. In the original baking process, the starch began to gelatinize above 150F and absorb moisture. Once absorbed, the starches swell and create the spongy fresh solid texture we associate with bread.  As the starches recrystallize over time they loose the moisture that was once locked in in the baking process. By simply reheating your bread your starches will re-gelatinize and reinstall the soft texture we have come to associate with "fresh". 



This Instructable will cover three different methods for remoistening your stale bread. 

Step 1: Things You'll Need

Picture of Things You'll Need
You'll need the following to help rescue your stale bread:


  • Stale Loaf of Bread


  • Paper Towels


  • Aluminum Foil


  • 1-2 Celery Stalks


  • Oven


  • Microwave


Step 2: Microwave Method

Picture of Microwave Method
This method is by far the fastest way to soften your stale bread and has the longest lasting results.



Steps:


  1. Moisten a section of paper towel long enough to completely cover your loaf of bread (or the portion that you intend to eat). Do so by soaking your paper towel in cold water, and then squeeze out as much of the water as you can. 


  2. Wrap your portion of bread in your damp paper towel snuggly.


  3. Place your covered loaf or slice into your microwave.


  4. Microwave for 10 seconds. 


  5. Remove your bread from the microwave. 


  6. Remove it's paper towel covering.


  7. Serve!


Step 3: Oven Method

Picture of Oven Method
The oven method takes longer to soften the bread than the microwave method but works just as well. 



Steps:


  1. Preheat your oven to 300F (148.8C).


  2. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover and wrap your bread loaf/slice in.


  3. Wrap your bread in the aluminum taking care to make sure it is completely covered. 


  4. Place your foil covered bread into your warm oven for 5-20 minutes. If you are just heating a slice or small roll, you'll want to warm it for less time (closer to 5 minutes) than if you are warming and remoistening a larger or thicker loaf of bread (closer to 20 minutes).


  5. Remove your bread from the oven and allow it to cool within the foil. You'll want to let your bread remoisten inside the foil so that as it cools it doesn't release it's remaining moisture as steam. 


  6. Serve and eat as soon as it's cool enough to touch. 


If your bread is really dry, I occasionally dab a couple drops of water along the length of the bread loaf with my fingers. This will help to reincorporate moisture into your loaf beyond just reheating and softening. If you decide to add water, make sure that you don't over saturate your bread loaf otherwise you'll end up with mushy bread. Start small, you can always add more. 

Step 4: Celery Method

Picture of Celery Method
The celery method is preferential for remoistening bags of sliced bread; however, it takes a little bit of foresight since you'll be letting it reabsorb moisture overnight. 



Steps:


  1. Slide a celery stalk inside your bread loaf bag. 


  2. Seal or close off your bag.


  3. Place your bread bag with celery stalk back into the fridge and let it sit for several hours. I have had the best results when it sits overnight in the fridge. 


  4. Remove your celery stalk from the bag. It should be fairly dry and tough by this point having lost most of it's moisture the bread. 


Step 5: Beyond Reviving

Picture of Beyond Reviving

There is the possibility that your bread has dried out beyond reasonable or easy remoistening. If this is the case, try reusing your bread in other ways: make bread crumbs, make croutons, thicken a soup, or feed the birds! 

Comments

RobertP231 (author)2016-04-27

That is not true. Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, which means they can eat both meat and vegetables, including grains, just like people can. There are somethings we can eat that ghey should not, however. Chocolate and liquorice, for example, are very bad for dogs; but most grains are just fine.

AndrzejR (author)2016-03-10

i'm probably in the minority here, but I like stale/dry bread. not to say i dislike fresh though. i've only done the microwave/towel thing before myself, the others seem excessively wasteful to me.

romanfernandez (author)AndrzejR2016-03-19

Same here. Old, rock hard bread is awesome. Ever since I was a kid everyone I know was telling me that I would break my teeth that way, but who is listening.

mikesmithfl (author)2016-03-10

Thanks for the tips -

Another idea would be prepare in advance - put the bread in a double layer of plastic wrap - inner wrap might be perforated but outer should be airtight.

actionjksn (author)2014-04-27

If you're storing your bread in the refridgerator then that is causing it to go stale quickly.

JoeV24 (author)actionjksn2016-03-10

Actually, my wife buys a dozen loaves at once and we put them in the freezer. When we need one, we take it out and put it on one of the counters, but on trivet to let air circulate around the bottom too.

All this is done in the original wrapper, except for French bread which we cut in half and freeze them separately in those large zippered bags.

Once thawed we find the original fresh condition is returned, with the bread just the same as it was when it went into the freezer. Day old bread will again be day old. Oven fresh bread will be oven fresh, and stale bread will still be stale unfortunately.

Refrigeration, on the other hand just seems to ruin a loaf of bread, making it -I don't know - like it's stale or grainy and more course somehow.

actionjksn (author)JoeV242016-03-10

I agree, the freezer preserves bread really well and refrigerator makes it stale in no time. If bread has spent much time in the fridge, when you bend it then it will be so bad that it breakes in two.

impied (author)2016-03-10

Great tips! Definitely going to try the microwave one!

benchkey. (author)2016-03-10

If you have a vegitable steamer, then place the bread in the vegetable area and expose to steam. The amount of time is necessitated by the size of the bread. Usually under a minute is enough.

bgdtn (author)2016-03-10

Thank you for the tips I use old bread to mix in to the dog's food. My goats love it too. I also put it in the compost bin.

ChristinaW8 (author)2015-07-25

Actually the best way i have found is the easiest. It does sound weird but it works. Get your bread and put on a place, then put a few sprinkles of water, enough to cover the bread and only the bread. So a slice of pizza will take like 2 or 3, a bread stick 1 or 2. Basically you want water to be touching off of the bread. If you have a piece that is all bread (like the bread stick) you could just turn the water on to about a medium stream and pass the bread through the water. Microwave on 30 second increments until fully warmed up. A slice of pizza usually takes about 30 seconds for me. Voila! Hot soft pizza or whatever you're eating in no time flat, without all the messiness of celery or wet paper towels.

fleenorm (author)ChristinaW82016-03-10

I use our stale bread, buns, bagels, etc. and make the most delicious, crunchy croutons. So easy and fun to do.

starforest (author)2015-03-30

Thank you! I found this very helpful.

Passion Make (author)2014-06-14

Thanks for sharing the information :)

lamerc (author)2014-04-29

Don't forget French toast as a great way to use stale/dry bread. (It actually works best that way; fresh bread generally gets too soggy.)

Fun Fact: The French term for "French toast" is "pain perdu", meaning "lost [i.e., "wasted"] bread". :)

AndyPipkin (author)lamerc2014-05-01

I like french toast, made from toast.

grannyjones (author)2014-04-24

My mother-in-law made dumplings. She broke up the bread, soaked it in milk, added salt and a little flour; formed it in balls, and boiled them. There may have also been some egg. Very tasty with gravy.

da.cappina (author)grannyjones2014-04-28

Where was your mother-in-law from? The result (including eggs!) sounds very much like a Bavarian or Austrian "Semmelknödel" - very tasty indeed with gravy, one of the favourite kids meals in Bavaria...

snoopindaweb (author)grannyjones2014-04-28

Hey.

snoopindaweb (author)2014-04-28

Doughnuts too but You got to eat them right away or they get hard as a rock. That damp towel sounds good, I'll do that. Thank You.

sarawelder (author)2014-04-27

thanks for the tips.. hope it creates less waste!

I usually cut the loaf in half when I get it home and freeze half well wrapped up . If a large part of the boule on the counter goes hard ( I love Tuscan Boule soft chewy inside with great crust) I run it under the tap quickly, ( I used to just sprinkle water on but found I get a better crust this way). It goes into a preheated 425 F oven for about 8 minutes uncovered.

metalhalide (author)sarawelder2014-04-27

Agreed,

Used to brush with water, like Zingerman's deli recommends, but a quick run under the faucet, then fifteen minutes at 350 works best at our elevation, about 700 feet ASL.

thegrendel (author)2014-04-27

Another way to resuscitate stale bread is to slice it and pan fry the slices.

A teeny bit of olive oil works.

headlemk (author)2014-04-27

Living in Mexico, most natives get their bread daily....no preservatives are in their bread so they go stale by the next day.

AuralVirus (author)2014-04-27

I've always just re-baked it.

Very lightly dampen the bread first (sprinkled water and rub it over with your hand) then 5 mins in a semi hot oven. Works best with rustic loaves or baguette type breads, basically any with a crust & not pre sliced sandwich style breads.

dbicher (author)2014-04-27

I am wondering if you can use the celery method more than once, i.e., if you have several servings of bread in the bag, can you use this method on consecutive nights until the loaf is finished up? Or is there no need to do it more than once, since maybe it 'refreshens' the bread back to its original moist state? Thanks for a great post -- who'd have thought that celery was useful for anything more than dipping, adding to soup or taking up room in the veggie drawer!

billbillt (author)2014-04-27

great

Beekeeper (author)2014-04-27

I had heard of putting the bread in a wet paper bag and then in the oven for a few minutes. And yes, as actionjksn says, the worst place to store bread is in the refrigerator as at normal fridge temperature bread goes stale the fastest.

actionjksn (author)2014-04-27

If you're storing your bread in the refridgerator then that is causing it to go stale quickly.

rosaleen (author)2014-04-27

Great tips. Did not know you could revive bread as you describe. Usually make breadcrumbs for the birds. Many thanks

bob3030 (author)2014-04-27

Thanks for sharing.

loneparrot (author)2014-04-27

Thank you very much for all of these tips. CRUMBS I was wondering would the birds get a mention, thanks, Ron

dmadam (author)2014-04-27

Gotta try this! I make my own bread and it does not keep long so I have a more than abundant supply of bread crumbs. I don't have a microwave and don't want to heat the oven in summer so the celery method sound good for me.

Thanks for the tips.

patsheldon (author)2014-04-25

Never knew I could fully revive bread! I always used to just chuck it in the toaster oven and had it half way revived lol. Thanks!

Boygasmo (author)2014-04-24

Stale bread also makes great garlic bread! Just top it into slices, slather butter mixed with garlic and basil on each toasts. Line it on the pan evenly and stick it in the oven at 350F for 5 to 10 minutes or until crunchy! Yummo!

Boygasmo (author)Boygasmo2014-04-24

Oops! Typo error for TOP, meant for CHOP!

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