The Microwave Trick To Bring Stale Bread Back To Life

One of the simple joys of life is spreading a pat of butter on a hot slice of homemade bread, fresh-baked right out of the oven. The other side of that coin? Bread can go stale pretty quickly if the loaf isn't eaten within a certain timeframe. Typically, homemade bread is good for up to five days in the pantry and eight days in the fridge, while store-bought bread will last for four days on the counter or two weeks in the fridge, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shares. So unless you're feeding a family or eating bread daily, you may start to notice your perfect soft slices are becoming hard pretty quickly.

The easiest way to tell if bread is bad is that it'll be less appealing — stale bread gets harder as the days go on, turning into something more like toast than a soft loaf. You may also notice green, black, white, or pink mold spots, a gross smell, or a weird taste — all signs that your bread may not be safe to eat, according to Healthline. If the only issue is that your bread is becoming stale, however, it may still be salvageable. Follow these tips to revive your bread and avoid throwing it in the trash.

Wrap bread in a damp paper towel

When bread goes stale, there is more than meets the eye — in fact, an entire chemical reaction is happening in your loaf. When water and flour are combined during the bread-making process, the starch molecules in flour become looser and give the bread a soft texture. As the days go on, the water begins to dry up, leaving the starch molecules in their original hardened state. So although the flour is technically to blame for bread becoming stale, reduced water content is also part of the problem.

It makes sense, then, that water can help bring your stale bread back to life — and the process couldn't be easier. All you need to do is place your bread inside a damp paper towel, and microwave it on a plate for 10 seconds. The water will revive the starch molecules in the bread's flour, the reaction between the two will occur again, and you'll have your soft bread back. And while your bread may taste as good as new, this trick doesn't last forever — you'll still want to eat it within a few hours for optimal freshness.

If you're trying to save a stale baguette, run it under sink water before sticking it in the oven for up to 12 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how wet it is. The water will interact with the bread's flour and generate hydrating steam in your oven.