Do Breadboxes Actually Keep Bread Fresh?

These days, spare counter space is often reserved for handy gadgets like blenders, microwaves, and coffee makers, but rarely a box solely devoted to bread. Before big manufacturers picked up on tricks to keep bread fresh for longer, breadboxes served as a popular kitchen staple. In the mid-20th-century their vogue began to dwindle as My Recipes shares, but breadboxes have made a culinary comeback as processed foods continue to be neglected on market shelves. As The New York Times pointed out back in 2001, preservative heavy bread, or "mass-produced plastic food in plastic wrap," has never really required thoughtful storage. The additives keep those pre-packaged loaves of bread tasting good as new for up to a week or so, whereas freshly baked bread can harden within a day. 

The answer is yes, breadboxes have been proven to keep bread fresh. With the help of a closed box, tasty baked goods can stay pristine well past their prime. Bread lovers can get that right-out-of-the-oven taste, even days later. Taste of Home put this to the test by storing identical loaves of bread in four different manners, with one being secured in a standard breadbox. Sure enough, the loaf stored in the breadbox tasted best without question. "It helped the bread retain its original characteristics: a crispy exterior, a moist crumb, and a delectable chew," they recalled. The other packaged alternatives included a couple plastic options and one paper, and none could hold up like a classic breadbox.

Breadboxes are a surefire solution to maintaining that just-baked taste

As for the mechanics of bread's trusty security box, it's all about the temperature and letting the bread "breathe" (via The New York Times). Breadboxes offer a happy medium, as they aren't completely airtight like securely fastened bags but the enclosed container also manages to keep the temperature somewhat regulated. The bread itself actually plays a part by releasing moisture and then working in tandem with the receptacle to keep the humidity level just right. 

As handy as a breadbox can be, there are some instances when it's not the right choice for your baked goods. Food science connoisseur Harold McGee advises against overcrowding a breadbox with multiple loaves if you prefer a crisp crust. Considering bread's moisture helps to raise the humidity, the more jam-packed the breadbox is the higher the controlled temperature will be, resulting in a chewier outcome. Taste of Home also made a discovery when experimenting with bread storage. Pre-sliced bread didn't benefit from the breadbox as greatly as an un-punctured loaf. Keeping the slices in place and the loaf intact will aid in delivering a fresh taste, but any exposed slice has a chance of drying out. The consensus is that for the folks lined up at the bakery first thing in the morning, a breadbox may be a game-changer.