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Whatever happened to the breadbox?

Homemade wheat bread

 

My mother-in-law, a frugal German woman, always had a breadbox filled with bread on her counter. She never stored bread in the frig. After she passed away, I don’t know what happened to it, but wish I had gotten that breadbox. Especially now that I bake a lot of my own breads or buy natural Artisan bread from the grocery.

So why would you want a breadbox and are they necessary?  Apparently so, since now many stores are carrying breadboxes. Here’s the “why’s” with some history of the breadbox:

A breadbox  is a container for storing bread and other baked goods to keep them fresh. They were a more common household kitchen item until bread started being made commercially with food preservatives and wrapped in plastic bags.

Breadboxes are still used by many people to store commercially purchased bread, but are used more especially by people who bake bread at home. Newer ones are usually made of metal. In the past they were often made of wood or sometimes pottery (pottery breadboxes are also called bread crocks). Old breadboxes can be can be collectibles. My mother-in-law, Clara’s, was, if I remember correctly, a painted metal box.

Breadboxes are most commonly big enough to fit one or two average size loaves of bread.

Here’s what breadboxes do:

  • Keep their contents at room temperature, prolonging edible storage time.

 

  • Have a lid loose enough to allow airflow, reducing condensation and moisture and that helps prevent mold. (And in the old days, and perhaps even now, the lids were tight enough to keep little creatures out, like mice).

 

Bread stays fresher in breadboxes than in the frig:

Bread does not go stale  by “drying out”—stale “dry” bread weighs the same as moist “fresh” bread, indicating almost no loss of water.

Bread goes stale  through a process in which the starch transposes to a crystalline form in the presence of the water contained within the bread itself. The process speeds up at cooler temperatures like in the frig, so that’s why bread stored at room temperature remains fresher for longer periods than refrigerated bread

What about the freezer?

Frozen bread, however, traps the moisture as ice, and prevents the staling process

 

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1 comment

  1. Kurfluffled

    Frozen bread does have its own problems. In the thawing process crystals of water attached to the outer crust will melt making the outer crust soggy if thawed in its packaging. If thawed in the open, the length of time one must leave it in the open will cause it to go stale. If thawed in the microwave, the bread will become tough.

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