The Genius Way Ina Garten Freezes Bread To Preserve Freshness

Who among us doesn't love to sink our teeth into a chewy-yet-tender, heartily crusted slice of bread? Whether your bread of choice is a light French baguette, a rustic sourdough, or a rich brioche, we think we can all agree that these fragrant, yeasted delights bring a world of deliciousness to our tables.

Whether you enjoy rolling up your sleeves and baking your bread at home or you prefer to pick up your loaves from a favorite grocery store or bakery, fresh bread doesn't seem to stick around the house long, as it's enjoyed as toast, the base for sandwiches and French toast, or simply sliced and slathered with butter. But as rare as the occasions may be, sometimes we find ourselves with leftover bread that we want to store longer term — and in these cases, freezing is a great option. According to Epicurious, freezing does a great job of preserving bread's flavor and texture, and the bread will really come to life again once you toast it. So it's no wonder that Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, routinely relies on freezing bread to extend its shelf life — but she has a particular way of doing it for optimal results.

Garten cuts her loaves into wedges before freezing

Often, conventional bread-freezing advice counsels freezing a whole loaf of bread — or, alternatively, slicing it up first so that you can quickly grab a slice or two at a time when you're ready to toast it (via Taste of Home). But as cooking and hostessing doyenne Ina Garten shared with Food & Wine editor Maria Yagoda, she has a different approach that's even better at preserving the integrity of frozen bread.

As recounted in a Food & Wine article, Garten told Yagoda that she prefers to slice whole loaves of bread into large wedges, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and then freeze them. A nice compromise between slices and an entire loaf, Yagoda explained that wedges will freeze well without going too icy — as slices can — but they're also easy to finish in one sitting once defrosted, whereas when defrosting a whole loaf, you'd likely need to refreeze it — running the risk of ruining the bread via too much thawing and refreezing.

In order to thaw the wedges, Yagoda recommends unwrapping a wedge and heating it in an oven heated to 325 F for 15 minutes. The result should be a crusty exterior and a moist, chewy interior — almost as good as bakery-fresh bread.