Wondering how long does sourdough bread last? Sourdough bread will last for around 3 to 5 days if wrapped and stored correctly. But to enjoy sourdough at its best, it's recommended to consume it within 24 hours.
This way you can enjoy that crispy crust and soft, airy interior at its best.
Sourdough bread is bread that needs to be baked fresh daily for the best enjoyment!
In this article we will look at:
- How long does sourdough bread last?
- Does sourdough bread last longer than regular bread?
- What is the staling process and why does it matter?
- Does sourdough last longer at room temperature?
- How long does sourdough last in the freezer?
- Can you give sourdough a longer shelf life?
- How can you use stale sourdough bread?
What Is The Shelf Life of Sourdough Bread?
The typical shelf life of sourdough bread is just a few days since it contains no preservatives or artificial improvers.
I think that we need to differentiate between the shelf life of sourdough bread and how long it would actually be considered fresh - because these are actually two different things!
Sourdough bread can last for several days without molding, however even though it's not molded, the bread would not be considered fresh after 24 hours. It is edible for around 3 days. Between days 3 to 5 it would need to be toasted or warmed before consuming. After day 5 your sourdough bread would be stale (but not moldy).
Here's a quick summary of how long sourdough bread will actually last:
First 24 hours - sourdough is considered fresh. Crispy crust & soft interior, freshly baked aromas.
Days 2 to 3 - sourdough is edible. Crust may be more chewy and the interior less soft but still enjoyable. May taste more sour than first 24 hours.
Days 3 to 5 - sourdough is edible only after reheating or toasting. Crust will be quite hard and interior becoming dry. Lost freshly baked aroma.
Does sourdough bread last longer than regular bread?
Sourdough bread does not mold as quickly as regular bread because of the lactic acid bacteria it contains however due to it's lack of preservatives, sourdough will not stay as soft and fresh as regular store bought bread.
I think this is the hardest part of explaining the differences between sourdough and regular bread. We also have to clarify whether "regular" bread is homemade yeasted bread or commercial store bought bread that has added improvers and preservatives.
It really is a loaded question!
Why does sourdough last longer than other bread?
Sourdough bread lasts longer than other types of bread because it has a higher acidity level and extra microbes. It's longer fermentation process gives it natural preservatives. The acids in sourdough bread are the key to it's longer shelf life:
Acetic Acid - prevents mold growth.
Lactic Acid - contributes to antifungal properties.
This magic all starts with your sourdough starter - whether it's your own sourdough starter you've made or one you've purchased. Your sourdough starter colonises the clever wild yeast and bacteria that work together in a symbiotic relationship to rise and flavor your sourdough bread recipe.
What is the Staling Process?
The staling process for sourdough bread refers to the process of the deterioration of the eating quality.
The time that the staling process takes varies considerably depending on the ingredients in the bread, how it is stored and the types of bacteria contained in the sourdough starter. The interesting thing to note is the that staling process begins as soon as the sourdough bread is removed from the oven.
Over a period of a few days, the sourdough bread reduces in edible quality because the moisture inside the bread will slowly move outwards to the crust. The bread becomes hard, tough and unappealing as the starch molecules in the bread dry out and re crystalize.
Sourdough bread that has not been cut will obviously last a bit longer than a loaf that has been sliced. Once your sourdough loaf has been sliced, it will stale more quickly since there will be more surface area exposed to the air than if it was left as an entire loaf.
A great way to stop your sourdough bread going stale is to make a smaller loaf of sourdough and eat it in just a day or two! That way you're not wasting any!
How To Make Sourdough Bread Last Longer
While homemade sourdough contains no preservatives that will ensure a long shelf life, there are many things you can do to increase the shelf life of your bread.
Here are some of the best methods to make your sourdough loaves last that bit longer (they will work for most artisan bread):
- If you want to bake sourdough for an event or gathering the next day, keep the loaf whole until right before the event, don't cut into it (even if you're tempted to check the crumb). Whole loaves stay fresher for longer.
- Add some olive oil to your dough because the fat increases the softness and shelf life of the baked bread.
- Allow your bread dough to ferment longer - sourdough that has longer to ferment will have a longer shelf life due to the increase in acetic and lactic acid bacteria.
- Avoid storing sourdough in a linen bag or brown paper bag after the first day as this will allow the bread to dry out too quickly.
- It's a good idea to allow your sourdough to cool completely before wrapping it, cutting it or placing it in any type of container. This allows the water molecules that are still trapped inside the dough to cool before you cut the bread (more on this here).
Does sourdough last longer at Room Temperature?
Yes sourdough bread should always be stored at room temperatures and never in the fridge. While your sourdough culture may be fine living in the fridge, a loaf of sourdough bread should always be stored at room temperature.
Depending on the types of bread you are storing, you may like to place your sourdough into a plastic bag, brown paper bag or even a bread box. I've put together a guide to the best way to store sourdough bread here.
Humidity levels should be taken into consideration when storing sourdough bread. For example if you live somewhere with higher humidity levels you should avoid storing your sourdough bread in a plastic bag or using plastic wrap as it will encourage early molding.
Even with extreme levels of humidity, sourdough should never be placed into the fridge as this dries the bread out and actually causes it to stale faster than if you left it at room temperature.
If leaving sourdough at room temp really is a problem, then freezing sourdough would be a better option than putting it in the fridge.
How Long Does Sourdough Last in the Freezer?
Sourdough can be stored in the freezer for a long time, as long as it's packaged correctly. Sourdough will last up to 6 months with no real issues, however once it is stored past this time there may be some degradation of crust, crumb and overall flavor once it is defrosted.
Wrapping sourdough correctly is the secret to successfully storing it in the freezer. You should use both aluminium foil and plastic wrap or a heavy-duty freezer bag to prepare sourdough for the freezer.
You'll find a full guide to freezing sourdough bread here.
How Do You Know When Sourdough Has Gone Bad?
It's pretty easy to tell when sourdough bread has gone bad because it will be covered in visible signs of mold growth and will feel hard both inside and out. It may also smell bad too, but not always.
Once it's past the fresh stage (first 24 hours) you will notice some deterioration in crust and crumb. Usually around day 3 the crust will become very hard and be difficult to cut - but the bread can still be consumed, it may just need to be toasted or heated.
Mold is pretty easy to spot. Just like when your sourdough starter goes moldy, mold on sourdough bread is green or white and fuzzy in nature.
Moldy sourdough bread needs to be placed into the trash and not consumed under any circumstances.
Does Adding Dairy Make Sourdough Spoil Faster?
Adding dairy to sourdough will not make it spoil faster. You can leave sourdough containing dairy on the counter to ferment overnight with no issues. It will not go bad because the lacto acid bacteria in the dough will prevent it from going bad.
The fat content in dairy will actually preserve the texture of sourdough bread in many cases and will keep it softer for longer - just like this sourdough buttermilk loaf.
You'll find a guide to adding milk and dairy to sourdough here.
Ideas for Stale and Leftover Sourdough Bread
Here are some yummy ideas to use up stale or leftover sourdough bread that can no longer be eaten fresh. Any of these ideas will be a delicious use of your sourdough bread!
- Sourdough Crostini
- Sourdough Croutons
- Stuffing for Thanksgiving
- The Best Sourdough Bread Pudding
- French Toast
- Bread Crumbs
Using up stale bread is a great way to reduce food waste in your home and ensure that you're using the resources you have on hand. You'll find even more ideas to use leftover sourdough bread up here.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, homemade sourdough bread cannot last for two weeks. It may not mold in this time, but it would be inedible after this amount of time (unless it's been frozen).
This depends on whether it's true sourdough bread made with wild yeast or whether it's commercially yeasted bread that's just had 'sourdough flavor' added. But true sourdough bread bought from the store should last at least a few days. However, just like homemade sourdough bread, it is only considered fresh for 24 hours.
Sourdough sandwich bread will have a longer shelf life than traditional sourdough bread because it has added ingredients like sugar, butter or oil and milk. Many of these ingredients contain fat which will soften the bread and give it a longer shelf life (so long as it's stored correctly).
The reason sourdough bread doesn't mold as fast is the presence of acetic acid. This acid is a result of a longer fermentation time. Adding commercial yeast to sourdough bread will reduce the need for longer fermentation which will mean there is not as much acetic acid present. This can mean that sourdough bread with commercial yeast added will mold faster than true sourdough bread.