The Unexpected Item That Can Keep Your Baked Goods Fresh For Longer

There's nothing worse than eyeing a delicious-looking muffin or cookie with a "just-baked" promise only to find out the sweet treat isn't as fresh as you'd like it to be upon the first bite. Dried-out, crumbly pieces are no one's favorite, and bakers often struggle with ways to keep their products fresh and tasty once they've whipped up the perfect treat.

Once an item is removed from the safety of its little oven cocoon, the baked good immediately enters a race against time. Starch molecules begin to stiffen and water molecules are released, a process called starch retrogradation (via Kitchn). Cookies, cakes, muffins, and sweet loaves contain ingredients like sugar and eggs that can help to maintain moisture and, in the case of fattier ingredients, even guard the starch molecules against retrogradation. As a result, these kinds of baked goods will take longer to go stale than unsweetened breads or crackers — but even those helpful ingredients can only preserve the treat for so long.

On the other hand, once you've decorated your goodies, or if you prefer cookies on the crispy side, Southern Living explains too much moisture in the environment can ruin your favorite dessert. Luckily, we've found a couple of unexpected solutions that might cure those baking blues and lead to the freshest, most enduring baked goods yet — however you prefer them.

Maintaining freshness with a food-safe tool

It's best to let your goods cool completely before you think about storage, which also gives you a chance to sample your goodies with a taste or two. Once they've fully cooled, Southern Living says storing baked goods in an air-tight container or sealed freezer bag is key if you want to hold in moisture and protect the treats from the air exposure that leads to dryness. However, if you're a fan of crisp confections, such a container can actually trap moisture inside, ruining the texture you crave. While you can always leave your bag or container slightly open, this is also an easy way to attract bugs. Luckily, there is a fairly simple alternative if you plan ahead.

If you've whipped up a crunchy batch of cookies or crafted ornate decorations with stiff frosting, The Washington Post suggests storing your baked goods with a small packet of food-safe silica gel. These packets can be ordered online or, if you're feeling resourceful, found in food items you might purchase anyway, like rice or beef jerky. The gel is really helpful in controlling moisture; just make sure you pick up the food-safe variety.