All restaurants, cafes, and dining establishments often have a large inventory of different bread products. This is because bread is a staple in most dining establishments.
It is used as an ingredient for making sandwiches, as a base for other dishes, as an appetizer or as a side dish. It is also frequently used as an additional ingredient in other culinary preparations such as breading for meat, chicken or fish, and to thicken sauces.
When dining establishments do not have enough bread, they can end up disappointing their customers and possibly lose their patronage. This can ultimately affect the establishment’s reputation and profitability.
But having enough supply of bread is one thing; keeping them fresh and edible is another. Although your dining establishment may have enough of this important ingredient, if the bread goes stale quickly, you won’t be able to use and serve them at all. You will end up wasting your investment and a lot of valuable, costly ingredients.
Trusted bread suppliers say that there are various ways to prolong the freshness and edibility of bread, and prevent it from becoming stale too fast.
Here are some of their most useful tips:
1. Store bread in the freezer
The best technique to prevent the bread from going stale is to freeze it as soon as possible.
Storing it in the freezer arrests starch retrogradation – the process by which the structure of the starch molecules in the bread change and begin to crystallize. This crystallization forces water out of the bread and causes it to become stale.
The freezer keeps the bread in a stable condition thereby preserving its freshness. When you freeze bread, you can preserve its quality for up to a month.
However, make sure the bread is thoroughly wrapped in plastic before putting it in the freezer. It would also work to your advantage to slice it into portions prior to freezing it.
To get the most out of frozen bread, serve it as soon as it thaws. You can put it in a toaster or oven to heat it up before serving it.
2. Understand the storage requirements of the different types of bread you use
Different types of bread have different storage needs. Many people do not recommend keeping bread inside a plastic bag since the plastic traps in moisture which can hasten mold development.
However, store-bought loaves with tender crusts are best left in their plastic packaging. But before sealing them, make sure to get as much air out of there as possible. This will ensure the bread won't dry out or harden prematurely.
Crusty bread, on the other hand, should be kept in paper bags or in their original paper packaging to prevent them from drying out quickly. If a hard-crust loaf dries up, for instance, the moisture that is pushed out is absorbed by the hard crusts thereby making the bread rubbery and tough to chew.
3. Never store bread in the refrigerator
Although storing bread in the fridge can delay the development of molds, doing so will only speed up the staling process.
So if your freezer is full, simply store your bread, especially the artisanal varieties such as baguettes, brioche, and ciabatta, in a dry place. But make sure you wrap them in a clean dish towel or paper bag first.
A ceramic bread box is your best option since it promotes air circulation. The air inside is enough to keep the bread moist without drying it. If you don't have this type of bread box and can’t find one, you can place the bread on a wooden board with the cut-side down. This will prevent the exposed crumb from drying out.
It is also worth mentioning here that the bigger the bread, the longer its shelf life. As long as it is stored properly, large artisan bread can keep for a week.
As a final tip, if you already have some stale or nearly stale bread, you don’t have to throw them out immediately. You can turn them into bread crumbs or croutons to add to your vegetable salads or soups. You can slice the bread into cubes and freeze them for making croutons later.
Whether you own a steakhouse, a fine dining restaurant, or café, following these storage tips will help ensure you are serving and using good quality bread in your dining establishment. You won’t have to waste unused or stale bread as well.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Horeca Trade LLC with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.