How Long Can You Store Bread On The Counter Before It Goes Stale?

hoosing a healthy loaf of bread—like those deliciously seedy sprouted options—is always a great idea: they’re loaded with better-for-you ingredients that up your daily protein intake and help you cut down on sugar. The only problem? Since they contain fewer preservatives, they don’t last as long—and accidentally taking a big bite of a PB&M sandwich (you know, peanut butter and mold) happens to the best of us. So BIG yikes, is eating moldy bread a 911-worthy offense?

Well, what exactly is mold? According to the USDA, molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter. They’re filamentous organisms that produce spores, which gives it the color you can see aka that lovely green-speckled pattern often visible to the naked eye. But aside from the not-so-enticing appearance, can eating this fungus really harm you, or are we just all freaking out for no real reason?

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Counter or fridge? Paper or plastic? The ways to store bread are seemingly endless but often imperfect, resulting in a rock-hard leftover loaf or still-soft-but-moldy slices.

The Bread Guide explains that mold begins forming on bread as early as five days after baking. Bread with added preservatives fares better, but even sliced commercial bread is prone to bacteria growth, particularly if it’s not stored properly. According to Sciencing, mold needs food, water, and the proper air quality and temperature to grow. A plastic bag, with its lack of airflow, creates the perfect environment for mold to thrive, particularly if the bread is stored in a warm place. Because mold spores root, removing the moldy bits doesn’t make the food safe to eat.

Unfortunately, leaving the bread to stand au natural on the counter won’t extend its freshness. Kitchen Myths explains that bread — even bread left unpackaged — absorbs moisture. This moisture crystalizes the starch. This chemical process turns a crusty baguette into a cement loaf. While it may be tempting to pop the loaf in the fridge to curtail bacteria growth and extend freshness, the appliance’s cooler temperatures cause the starches in the bread to crystallize even faster and dry out.

Bread stored on the counter needs a box

According to The Bread Guide, to know how to store your bread properly, you need to understand its post-bake hydration level, or the amount of water left in the loaf after baking. Airy breads like focaccia have a lower hydration level after baking than a denser bread like rye or pumpernickel, which retains water throughout the baking process.

With less water, the lighter breads require less ventilation to keep the loaves fresh. Higher hydration breads, however, are better off with a little breathing room. Similarly, breads with eggs or sugar (think brioche or challah) will go moldy well before they dry out.

An old-fashioned bread box is the best option for countertop storage, reports The New York Times. This breathable box regulates humidity levels, keeping the bread from turning stale without triggering mold growth. With the proper storage, StillTasty recommends keeping pre-sliced breads on the counter for one week. Unsliced, soft crusted breads do OK for up to five days. The hard crust breads only last a day or two.

Hard crust devotees, take heart. There is a way to bring rock-hard whole loaves back to life. Food Network suggests rinsing the loaf under running water and placing it in a preheated 300-degree oven for six to 10 minutes. This method crisps the crust while steam revives the interior into a soft and chewy loaf.

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Bread molds form when mold spores find their way onto the surface of bread. Types of bread molds include black bread mold, Penicillium molds and Cladosporium molds.

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Should I be worried if I ate moldy bread?

Don’t worry: Swallowing the fuzzy green stuff isn’t likely going to do your body harm. The most awful part about eating mold is probably realizing you ate mold. Even though it might make you gag, being totally grossed out is typically the worst thing to result. “In all likelihood, nothing bad will happen to you—especially if you have a healthy immune system,” said SciShow host Michael Aranda in a YouTube video.

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Baking with silicone molds is easy and they come in many shapes and sizes which makes the whole process of baking a lot more interesting and fun. Although they appeared quite recently, people found a lot of creative ways to put them to good use. They are great because they are made of a nonstick silicone material and can be washed and reused as many times as you want. They’re usually of bright colors and interesting shapes, while available at affordable prices!

If you’re tired of constantly washing greasy pans, using silicone molds instead can be the solution you’ve been looking for! You might be a master chef or someone who simply loves to cook, either way, silicone molds should find a way into your kitchen. Forget about old-fashioned metal pans and read through our 7 great tips on how to use silicone cupcake molds!

Baking Tips for Silicone Molds

The great thing about these molds is they can be used for a variety of things – for storage, for containers and, most often, for baking. There are a few things to know about molds when used for baking so let’s look at some useful tips:

Use Smaller Silicone Molds

Baking with silicone molds is becoming more and more popular, with so many chefs including them in their cooking. Apart from being good for other things as well, smaller molds are more practical and affordable, thus easier to find and use. Equip yourself with some regular-shaped cupcake molds, as well as with some of the interesting shapes – like hearts or stars.

Once you’ve built a great collection, you’ll find that everything you’ve been baking in regularly-shaped pans so far, can be baked in the silicone molds and allow you to provide your family and friends with creatively made pieces of food. If you have kids, they’ll love everything that’s small enough for them to hold and of an interesting shape, so you’re in the lead here.

Mind the Temperature

Many people who buy silicone molds have the same question – Can you put silicone in the oven? While this is a completely justified question, we must tell you that you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Silicone molds are usually very heat-resistant and can be used even at very low or high temperatures. Of course, you want to be aware of the temperature ratings and avoid melting the pan and ruining your hard work.

Choose Wisely

The market has a lot to offer on silicone molds nowadays. Shapes and sizes are numerous, but the practicality varies, too. They are quite inexpensive as well, but again, that doesn’t mean they are practical enough. Many molds are very small and if you are preparing something for a larger group of people, you’ll have to do more than one batch, which can be a bit tiring and boring. Go for regularly-shaped molds of average sizes and avoid cute or tiny shapes. We know how tempting it can be, but be smart!

Greasing Can Help

Generally, good old greasing is not really necessary with silicone molds. However, using cooking sprays or even greasing before baking and cooking can make your life a lot easier when it comes to washing them later on. Think of this as a means of prevention – you’ll spend much less time doing the dishes afterward. Isn’t that something we’re all striving for?

Another option that can reduce the washing-up time is putting paper baking cups in the mold instead of greasing it and just use the mold as a structural form. Cleaning time will be minimal this way!

Check the Quality

Checking the quality of your silicone molds is a must if you’re interested in buying a quality product. Baking in silicone is really easy and great, but only if the pan or the mold are made of 100% silicone, without added fillers. You want to be sure you’re buying pure silicone so you need to check the way it was made.

How can you check your silicone mold is made of pure silicone? You should do the pinch test – pinch the silicone and twist it a bit. Once you do that and the color of it stays the same, you’re dealing with a 100% silicone mold. If it turns white, it was probably mixed with some other material and you should steer clear from that one. Be careful! If you want to bake in silicone, buy pure silicone first.

Find Good Recipes

A great thing about baking with silicone is the variety of recipes available online! You don’t have to be a master chef to be able to bake with silicone, you just have to find delicious recipes for silicone molds and start baking!

Recycle and Reuse

If you have children, you can use them to freeze little pieces of food or meat for them and avoid throwing away meals. Of course, their creative shapes make them great for containers, lunch or snack trays and even homemade DIY products! It’s cute, it’s practical, it’s easy! Using silicone molds in your household is really great because they are easy to use, wash and stack. Make your pick!

Baking, baking, baking, isn’t it fun? Once you get used to using silicone molds for baking and cooking, you won’t even remember how it was before you had them. As you can see, they are very practical and easy to manage, while at the same time safe to use at different temperatures. Even if you haven’t been a fan of baking so far, these cute molds might make you change your mind and turn you into a state-of-the-art baker!

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How to make your bread last longer

Of course, the one thing you can do to prevent mold from forming is to learn the best way to store your bread and keep bread fresh for longer in the first place. “The best place to store bread is in a cool, dry place in your kitchen,” registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, says. “This is where bread boxes come in handy since they only allow a small amount of air to circulate, keeping the bread from molding.” She adds that if your counter space is limited, a cabinet will work, too. “When storing bread in a breadbox, cabinet, or drawer, just make sure the location is not near a heat-producing appliance,” Rifkin says. “Placing your bread on top of a fridge or next to the stovetop that produces heat is a sure way to increase mold production.”

If you want to have on hand a bread that will last longer than a couple of days, Artisan Sourdough Made Simple ($17) author and The Clever Carrot creator Emilie Raffa says to go for sourdough. “The naturally occurring enzymes in sourdough act as a natural preservative, keeping homemade bread fresher for longer. The addition of fat also helps,” she says.

Rifkin says that another way to keep mold from sprouting on your bread as easily is to store it in the freezer. “You can thaw individual slices of bread overnight in the fridge before you plan to use the next day,” she says. Raffa cosigns the freezer as a good place to store bread you aren’t going to eat right away. “If you’re worried about mold, waste, or storage options, go small: cut your recipes in half and freeze whatever you’re not using to enjoy at a later date,” she says.

If your bread is stale but hasn’t started getting moldy yet, both experts say not to throw it out just yet. “If your bread has become stale, you can toast it then pulse in a food processor to create breadcrumbs to use in recipes,” Rifkin says. She also likes using stale bread to make croutons by cutting it into cubes, tossing it with olive oil, and baking in the oven.

All these tips can help your bread last longer and prevent mold from forming as quickly, but if you do discover you’re munching on mold, don’t freak out: You’ll probably be okay (mental and emotional scars notwithstanding). Just take a closer look next time so you avoid the ickiness and the possibility of getting sick.

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So, when can you get sick from eating moldy bread?

As relieving as it may be to hear that *most* cases of ingested moldy bread won’t lead to anything serious, it is important to note that getting sick from moldy bread is possible, though rare. Since mold is a type of fungus, some people can be allergic to it. According to Aranda, those allergies aren’t often serious, but there have been cases where eating mold-infested food has been deadly. Aside from the allergy issue, the other problem with eating mold is the mycotoxins it contains. “These are chemicals various molds make under certain conditions that are toxic to humans and other creatures,” he says. “For the most part, if you consume a little bit once or twice, you’ll probably be okay. But in larger doses, or over longer periods of time, they can become an issue.”

“In all likelihood, nothing bad will happen to you—especially if you have a healthy immune system.” —Michael Aranda

What are the symptoms of eating moldy bread?

Although you may be tempted to do so, avoid taking a sniff of the moldy bread to confirm if it’s actually gone bad. Research shows that inhaling mold spores—especially for those that have asthma—can pose dangerous threats and, in some instances, could lead to respiratory illnesses, difficulty breathing, or in rare cases, anaphylaxis.

How do you know if mold is toxic?

And as mentioned before, exposure to mycotoxins in larger doses can lead to more severe consequences like acute toxicity that includes gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or liver disease, according to studies on its effects.

How long does it take to get sick from mold exposure?

Although there isn’t a universal answer that encompasses all types of mold exposure, the onset of sickness can vary from person to person, depending on a few factors. These include predisposed sensitivities or allergies to mold, the amount that’s ingested or inhaled, and the type of mold present. Sickness from mold exposure can be anywhere from immediate to delayed; thus, it’s best to seek the help of a medical professional if severe symptoms begin to develop.

How to handle moldy food

So what’s the best way to handle moldy food? It depends on the type of mold and types of foods that tend to grow mold more quickly than others. Since it’s easier for mold to spread in softer foods because of the way it grows—whether that’s bread, cheese, meat, or dips—it should be thrown away ASAP. With harder foods like carrots, strawberries, or hard cheeses, Aranda says it doesn’t spread as easily, so the mold is probably just in the areas you can see. Because of that, you could cut out the yucky spots and enjoy the rest if you want to—but overall, it’s best not to take your chances.

“If you see mold on food, there’s a good chance it’s also loaded with bacteria by that point, which means, mycotoxin or not, you could still get sick. It’s better to play it safe and find another snack,” he explains.

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