There is so much to be said about bread. First of all…it’s delicious, and personally, I could eat it all day. Not only are there so many different ways to eat bread, whether it’s a standalone or incorporated into a dish, but there are also so many different types around the world.
Sourdough bread is one of the most popular types and one of the tastiest, but that’s just my (correct) opinion!
Sourdough is naturally leavened bread, meaning it doesn’t use commercial yeast to rise. Instead, it uses a “starter,” which is a fermented flour and water mixture, containing wild yeast and good bacteria to make it rise. Because of this, it produces that tangy flavor with a slightly chewy texture.
This wonderful bread is most popular and famous in San Francisco, with evidence of production dating back to the Gold Rush. One of San Francisco’s sourdough staples is the clam chowder bowl, with the soup poured into a sourdough bread bowl. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds, and you can trust me because I tried a bowl when I visited the city.
Now that we’ve discussed how amazing sourdough bread is, that leads us to the question of can you freeze sourdough bread? The good news is, yes you can!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about storing sourdough.
The Quick Answer – Can You Freeze Sourdough Bread?
Yes, you can freeze sourdough. It actually freezes very well, so you can store it away in the freezer with confidence that you can eat it at a later date. There are ways to freeze it and thaw it properly so the bread doesn’t dry out or develop a soggy bottom.
Freezing Sourdough Bread Before Baking
When you think of freezing sourdough bread, you typically think about freezing the leftovers once it’s baked. However, you can actually freeze the dough before baking it.
It is recommended you let the bread only rise the first time (as most yeast bread goes through two rises). After the first rise, punch down and knead the dough. You can then shape the dough into a single loaf or multiple loaves.
Place the loaf in a bread pan or baking sheet lined with greased plastic wrap or wax paper to prevent sticking, which also allows the dough to hold its shape when frozen. Then, place the bread pan in the freezer and let the dough freeze for about 10 hours.
After that’s done, remove the frozen bread dough from the pans and wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then place it in the freezer bag. Once wrapped and bagged, immediately put your dough in the freezer. It can be kept there for up to four weeks.
Freezing Sourdough Bread After Baking
If your homemade sourdough bread is just too good to get rid of and you want to savor it (and maybe impress your friends with it) for a later date, freezing sourdough after baking is pretty easy.
Depending on how you’re going to serve it in the future, you can either slice the baked bread or leave it whole before freezing. I like to slice it, this way I don’t have to commit to taking out a whole loaf…because I will most definitely eat the whole loaf.
In order to freeze it properly, start by making sure your bread is completely cooled beforehand. This goes for whether you freshly baked it or got it hot out of the oven at the store. Then, you will wrap the bread (sliced or whole) in either aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap. Next, place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag and you’re good to store it in the freezer.
A frozen loaf of sourdough can last about three months at its best quality. It will be safe to eat beyond that time, however, the quality will start to decline.
How to Defrost Frozen Sourdough Bread
For sourdough that was frozen before being baked, you can remove the frozen dough the night before you intend to bake it, giving the loaf plenty of time to fully defrost. Keep the loaf wrapped in the plastic and put it in the refrigerator to let it thaw overnight.
For bread that’s already been baked, remove the bread from the freezer and let it defrost inside the aluminum foil or saran wrap. You can either stick it in the fridge or let it defrost on the counter. When it’s thawed, unwrap the sourdough and spritz it all over with water mist. It will not go soggy if you spritz too much, so be generous.
You can also defrost frozen bread in the microwave for rapid results, which is something I do when I’m too impatient, or you can stick it in the oven to make it nice and toasty.
Whichever way you defrost, your bread will still be tasty and versatile (which is another reason to love bread).
Can You Refreeze Sourdough Bread?
Another good thing about bread is that if you defrost too much bread and you end up not using it all, you can actually refreeze it over and over for a little bit longer.
However, just because you can, doesn’t mean the quality of the bed will be as fresh as when you first froze it. In fact, the taste might lose its flavor and integrity, making it taste stale.
But if we’re being honest, I’ve taken bread in and out of the freezer various times. So from experience, it’s definitely doable and edible. Don’t waste good bread!
What’s the Best Way to Store Sourdough Bread?
If you’re not storing it in the freezer for a longer period of time, there are other ways to properly store sourdough bread.
Ideally, you should store your loaf in a cotton bread bag or wrap it in a large tea towel. This way the bread can “breathe.”
A bread box is also a convenient way to store bread. A bread box is a container for storing bread (and other baked goods) to keep them fresh. This used to be a more common household kitchen item until bread started being made commercially with food preservatives and wrapped in plastic. If your fresh baked bread is homemade, this would be a great place to store it.
Store your bread in a relatively cool place so it can maintain normal ambient moisture levels. This means it can be put in a place as simple as the counter top. Although, it may be tempting to eat a slice every time you pass the counter.
Can You Freeze Sourdough Starter?
If you freeze sourdough starter, it will not generally be harmed if it’s done correctly.
Sourdough starters are a lot of work, and depending on the season and temperature of your kitchen, you may need to feed your starter as much as once per day. With that being said, sourdough starter can be typically forgotten, and if so, the yeast will die if it’s not fed on a schedule.
However, there are ways to keep the starter alive while avoiding the daunting maintenance. One of those methods is to freeze the starter. This will help preserve the organisms, and as soon as they thaw and you go back to a feeding schedule, they will be just as lively as before you froze it.
If you want to store a starter for a long time, freezing is your best option. This is ideal if you’re not baking for a month or two, and/or if you want to preserve a rare starter you found for a special occasion.
The starter will go dormant and will not need extra flour and water to keep it alive.
To freeze sourdough starter, freeze one cup in a freezer-safe jar or plastic bag. When it’s needed, remove the starter from the freezer and allow it to thaw in a bowl at room temperature.
Keep in mind that your starter will need food as it thaws. This is because the yeast is a hungry organism and requires nourishment to come out of the hibernation it was just in. Therefore, it’s important that you get back on a feeding schedule before using it on a loaf of bread.
A sourdough starter is essentially like a pet; you have to pay attention to it and put it on a feeding schedule!