Bread goes with virtually every meal. My mother used to freeze her loaves, and gave me a hard time for putting the family’s bread into the refrigerator. Usually, she would keep her organic, whole-grain loaves wrapped in a plastic bag and tucked away in the pantry. We did not have a breadbox, but I always wondered about the purpose of these old-timey sounding kitchen gadgets.
Which is the best? I like the Brabantia Roll Top Bread Box.
Bread Gone Bad
As it turns out, my mother was onto something by refusing to store her bread in the refrigerator. There is a widely circulated kitchen legend that bread left out will ‘dry out’ and go stale. However, these are two different processes.
The starch in bread—especially bread not jacked up on funky, synthetic preservatives—undergoes a transformation to a crystalline form, thus becoming ‘stale.’ This stale bread actually weighs the same as the fresh bread, indicating that no drying out has taken place. Cooling the water contained within the bread accelerates this process. For this reason, bread put in the refrigerator will go stale faster than bread left out at room temperature.
Keep It Fresh
Bread has one of the shortest shelf lives of all regular food staples. A home-baked loaf of hard-crusted bread may retain its freshness for a day or 2 on the counter. Freezing it is a good option for preserving bread, but then you’re stuck dealing with a rock-hard loaf of bread for supper.
As many people are returning to home-baked or other generally preservative-free loaves, the battle against staling has again become relevant. Preservative-laden white bread can maintain its freshness for over a week, but with the trend ticking towards preservative-free options, bread boxes are again becoming fashionable and functional.
Keep It in a Bread Box
Bread boxes have existed as early people discovered the unfortunate staling properties of bread, long before freezing and refrigeration were invented. The breadbox still exists today, and unlike many other home devices, the purpose of the breadbox remains basically the same as it ever was.
Bread boxes keep their contents at room temperature, thus prolonging shelf life. They contain either built-in openings or a loosely sealed top, in order to facilitate airflow, which minimizes condensation and keeps mold at bay. However, the lid is secured tight enough to prohibit entry of mice, ants, and other pests.
The Best Bread Boxes for the Modern Kitchen
So you’ve decided to return to the tradition of baking bread. Or at least, you’ve decided you will buy organic bread free of bizarre preservatives. Congratulations. Your health and your taste buds will thank you.
However, now you’re faced with the task of either eating an entire loaf of bread in one sitting, or investing in a breadbox. Tasty as fresh baked bread can be, the former option may not always be viable. So let’s take a look at some of the best bread boxes on the market.
Brabantia Roll Top Bread Box
The Brabantia Roll Top Bread Box offers a sleek, simple design. As effective as it is basic, this breadbox offers a few noteworthy features. Its matte stainless steel construction is low-maintenance and looks good in any kitchen. Additionally, the matte finish is smudge-proof, meaning it can withstand opening and closing by greasy fingers with minimal cleanup.
The generous internal capacity fits two large loaves of bread. The compact roll top doesn’t take up any extra room when opened, allowing this breadbox to fit virtually any kitchen. Micro-vents allow for proper ventilation, which will extend the shelf life of any bread contained therein.
Now Designs Bread Bin
For those looking to hearken back to the simpler times of yesteryear’s bread boxes, the Now Designs Bread Bin is a perfect solution. Though not actually an antique, this adorable breadbox (or bin, as the British say) features a simple design inspired by bread boxes of yore.
The durable, powder-coated steel body resists corrosion, and boasts a spacious interior. This box will gracefully accentuate the larger counter top or pantry shelf, at 16 inches long by 9 inches wide. This box is available in several charming, pastel colors, all of which feature the word ‘BREAD’ powder-coated on the side. The lid opens easily, and offers a great deal of ventilation to delay the onset of mold or crystallization.
Brabantia Fall Front Breadbox
We return to the clever designs of Brabantia to introduce what may well be the industry standard of bread boxes, their Fall Front Breadbox. The spacious interior easily houses 2 loaves of bread, with additional space for smaller loaves or other objects. The flat top design offers additional storage space, as other kitchen items may be stored on top. These extra items won’t have to be removed when you take out or put away bread—the box ingeniously opens from the front.
The matte steel construction is durable, smudge-proof, and corrosion resistant. The crafty magnetic seal offers maximal shelf life of your favorite breads. The hanging eyes on the back of the box add additional ventilation while enabling the box to be hung from a wall or other kitchen unit.
Stay ahead of the bread
Whether you’re looking to start baking your own bread or are simply tired of storing your artisanal loaves on a cluttered shelf (or worse—in the refrigerator!), investing in a quality breadbox will prolong the life of your bread while accentuating your kitchen with a relic of yesterday’s kitchens.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Alan L