After I’d been gluten-free for a while, I decided to explore GF breads. I wasn’t in much of a hurry since I hadn’t heard rave reviews on these non-wheat based breads, and I wanted to get out of the habit of eating bread — I figured if I kept bread as a major part of my diet, I’d continue to miss regular bread.
Once the regular habit was broken, I introduced bread back into my diet in small quantities (half the time these days, I forget I have a loaf in the freezer!). GF bread is pricey and I don’t have a lot of time for making really good stuff from scratch (though I am trying!), so I don’t buy a lot of it.
The thing that shocked me the most came when I was checking out options online — at that point, Whole Foods was the only store in my immediate area that carried GF breads, and, well, Whole Foods is also pricey. Since I wasn’t sure I’d like the stuff, I didn’t want to invest in bread as much as explore it.
As I searched websites, I noted some product descriptions touting a shelf-life of six months for gluten-free breads! I couldn’t understand this, particularly because gluten-free breads go bad so quickly. They tend to dry out super-fast.
In fact, most grocery stores keep their stock of GF breads in the freezer section. This allows this relatively low-volume product to stay fresh on the shelves. Fresh GF bread would simply go bad too quickly.
That being said, sometimes you will find “fresh” gluten-free breads. Companies like Dr Schär say their breads can be stored at room temperature for six months (check the date on the packages) as long as the original packaging is not opened. Their vacuum-sealed packaging helps retain freshness for long periods of time. Once you’ve open the package, it needs to be consumed in 2 – 3 days or refrigerated.
As a rule, most GF breads don’t last more than a week unless they’ve been refrigerated (not recommended as fridges dry out products) or frozen (highly recommended). If you see a long “shelf stable” or “shelf-life” timeframe, verify this information on the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes, a site will have bad metadata and the shelf-life information references the frozen lifespan, not how long the bread will survive on your kitchen counter.
The frozen bread rule applies to breads you bake yourself. Once breads are baked and appropriately cooled, slice the breads or break down the items into servings appropriate for your family, wrap tightly in freezer-safe wrap. And label the bread with type and date put into the freezer. You’ll thank yourself later!
(For more tips on storing freshly baked gluten-free breads, read this post at Glutenfreeonashoestring.com; I am using her <em>Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread</em> book as my bible for baking.)