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5 Ways to Save Your Bread (Literally)

How much bread do you throw out every week? Hopefully, the answer is “zero,” but chances are good that at least some of your slices end up in the compost and there are several ways to save money by saving your bread.</br></br>Food waste is a problem of epidemic proportions in America. In 2012, the last year a study was commissioned, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that <a title="Washington Post" href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/23/americans-throw-out-more-food-than-plastic-paper-metal-or-glass/" target="_blank">Americans threw out 35 million <em>tons</em> of food</a>.</br></br>It’s a mind-boggling amount with <a title="Kansas City Star" href="http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/article2210462.html" target="_blank">a market value of $165 <em>billion</em> dollars</a>. Experts say it’s enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans – and the numbers are rising. Today’s food waste is three times more than what people wasted just 55 years ago, in 1960.</br></br>Saving bread isn’t going to save the day, but it’s a start, and as <a title="BBC" href="http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17353707" target="_blank">one of the world’s most wasted foods</a> it’s as good a place to start as any. So follow these tips to save money and food:</br></br><strong>1. Know your bread.</strong></br></br>Not all loaves are created equal, as we have learned from our Wonder Bread days. Preservatives will play a part in this, but so will the bread type. Starches come in different structures and you’ll notice some breads (“Dang you, sourdough!”) getting harder faster than others.</br></br>Use this wisdom to select the right bread for the right use at the right time. You can hope that store-baked sourdough will last as long as your factory-baked white bread, but hoping doesn’t always help.</br></br><strong>2. Wrap it up.</strong></br></br>Wrapped bread lasts longer than unwrapped bread, period. Use plastic, paper or foil to keep it sealed up for the maximum duration of freshness.</br></br>Some people find they get an extra day or two out of freshness from their breads by wrapping the already-wrapped loaf in a clean dish towel. Science suggests there may be some truth to this by perhaps sealing in some warmth and further preventing exposure to air, but the first layer of wrap is bar far the most important.</br></br><strong>3. Buy it unsliced.</strong></br></br>Any baker will tell you that bread starts to lose its freshness much faster after you slice into it. Time to invest in that breadknife!</br></br>Of course, you may not be able to find the kind of bread you want in a full loaf, but it’s all the better for your taste buds and your wallet if you can.</br></br><strong>4. DON'T PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE.  </strong></br></br>There’s a whole lot of science behind why bread goes bad faster in the fridge, but it boils down to the recrystallization of starch molecules. This is the process that causes breads to stale and cooling bread down makes it happen faster.</br></br>But, something interesting happens if it gets a little too cold …</br></br><strong>5. If you’re not gonna eat it, freeze it.</strong></br></br>Freezing bread also freezes the recrystallization process. The bread will get hard, which admittedly is a little confusing, but it won’t get stale and will return to its former lovely, doughy squishiness once you thaw it out (at room temperature).</br></br>BONUS: And if your bread does happen to go stale, don’t throw it out! Use it to make croutons, breading, bread pudding, hamburger mix or any other of a number of delicious, bready recipes.
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