Bread that is 2 weeks past the expiration date may still be safe to eat if it has been stored properly. The shelf life of bread depends on the type of bread and how it was made. Freshly baked bread usually stays fresh for 3-5 days, while commercially produced bread may last 1-2 weeks past the printed date if kept at room temperature. After opening, bread that contains preservatives will last longer than preservative-free bread. Freezing bread can extend its shelf life to several months. Use your senses to determine if bread 2 weeks past the date is still good – check for mold, staleness, and an off smell or taste.
How long does bread last past the expiration date?
The shelf life of bread depends on several factors:
- Type of bread – Breads like quick breads, sweet breads, and refrigerated dough have a shorter shelf life of around 4-7 days. Basic breads like white, wheat, rye, and sourdough will last 5-7 days at room temperature.
- Preservatives – Bread containing preservatives like calcium propionate will extend shelf life to around 10-14 days.
- Storage method – Bread stored at room temperature will go stale faster. Refrigerating or freezing extends shelf life.
- Packaging – Bread left open to air becomes stale faster. Storing in a closed paper or plastic bag slows staling.
- Freshness – Freshly baked bread only lasts 3-5 days, while commercially produced bread can last 1-2 weeks past the printed date.
So generally, bread can last around 7-14 days past the printed date if stored properly at room temperature and kept closed. Refrigeration can extend the shelf life for several weeks. Freezing can keep bread fresh for months. After opening a loaf of bread, it will go stale within 3-5 days without special packaging.
What happens when you eat expired bread?
Eating expired bread that has gone moldy or rotten can cause food poisoning. Consuming bread past its prime can also result in stomach upset like:
These symptoms usually pass within 24 hours. Severe food poisoning may require hospitalization for dehydration. Mold spores themselves can also cause allergic reactions and asthma flare-ups in sensitive individuals.
However, eating bread 2 weeks past the date is unlikely to cause illness if the bread was properly stored and shows no signs of mold or spoilage. Stale bread may not taste great but is generally not hazardous.
How to tell if bread 2 weeks past the date is still good
To determine if bread is still fresh and safe to eat 2 weeks after the printed date, check:
- Appearance – Bread that is starting to go bad may develop mold from invisible mold spores. Look closely for blue, green, black, or white fuzzy spots. Discard moldy bread.
- Smell – Bread that smells unpleasantly sour or spoiled should not be eaten.
- Texture – Stale bread becomes dry, crumbly, and rigid as it loses moisture over time. Edible but stale.
- Taste – Take a small bite to taste. Rancid or unpleasant flavors mean bread is no longer fresh.
If the bread shows no visible signs of mold, has a normal bread-like smell, is still fairly soft and pliable, and tastes close to normal, it should be safe to eat 2 weeks past the printed date.
How to store bread to maximize freshness
To extend the shelf life of bread and keep it fresher longer:
- Store at room temperature in a bread box or paper bag. Plastic traps moisture and speeds staling.
- Keep bread away from heat, sun, or appliances that produce heat.
- Wrap or re-tie opened loaves in plastic wrap or bag to prevent drying.
- Refrigerate bread. The cold environment slows mold growth and staling.
- Freeze bread to stop staling for 1-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before eating.
- Cut off moldy spots at least 1 inch around the edges and use bread quickly.
- Don’t refrigerate or freeze hot fresh bread – let it cool completely first.
With proper storage like sealing in plastic bags or containers, bread can stay fresh and mold-free for extra days or weeks past the expiration date printed on the packaging.
Can you freeze bread 2 weeks past date?
Freezing is an excellent way to preserve bread and stop additional aging. Bread that is 2 weeks past the printed date can safely be frozen as long as it shows no sign of mold or spoilage.
To freeze bread 2 weeks past the date:
- Make sure bread has no visible mold.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil to prevent freezer burn.
- Place inside a freezer bag if storing more than a day or two.
- Label package with contents and date.
- Freeze for up to 3 months at 0°F or below.
- Thaw refrigerated bread overnight before serving.
- Use thawed bread within a week.
Properly frozen bread will retain its freshness and texture for weeks or months past the expiration date. However, don’t refreeze bread after thawing.
Can you eat moldy bread if you cut off the mold?
It’s not recommended to eat moldy bread even if you cut off the visible mold. Mold grows roots deep into the food, so the entire loaf is probably contaminated even if you cannot see spores beyond the surface. Mold also gives off byproducts that can leave lingering bad flavors and odors.
However, if the mold is very small, some people may cut off at least 1 inch around and below the moldy area and eat the rest quickly. It’s best to discard the whole contaminated loaf.
How long is bread good for in the fridge?
Properly stored in the refrigerator, sliced bread can last 5-7 days past the printed date, while an unopened loaf can stay fresh for 2-4 weeks. The cold air prevents mold growth and slows staling. To maximize fridge life:
- Keep bread in the original packaging or an airtight container.
- Use within 3-5 days after opening.
- Refresh with 10-15 second blasts in the microwave to crisp.
- Look for visible mold before eating.
The fridge extends the shelf life of bread, but condensation may eventually cause some softening. Bread is still safe to eat for several weeks refrigerated but may lose quality when stale.
Does freezing bread ruin it?
Freezing does not ruin bread. In fact, freezing stops the staling process so bread stays fresh for 1-3 months frozen. However, some quality changes can occur:
- Dries out faster when thawed
- May toughen or lose softness
- Crust becomes less crisp
- Texture changes slightly
To minimize changes when freezing bread:
- Double wrap bread in plastic and foil.
- Use bread within 1 week after thawing.
- Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Refresh thawed bread in a hot oven for a few minutes.
While not exactly the same as fresh, frozen bread still tastes good and is safe to eat long past the expiration date. Be sure to discard any bread that develops mold after thawing.
What kind of bread lasts the longest?
The shelf life of bread depends somewhat on the type:
- Non-preservative bread – Lasts 3-5 days
- Quick breads – Lasts 4-7 days
- Sweet breads – Lasts 4-7 days
- Refrigerated dough – Lasts 1 week
- White bread – Lasts 5-7 days
- Whole wheat bread – Lasts 3-5 days
- Rye bread – Lasts 3-5 days
- Sourdough bread – Lasts 5-7 days
- Preservative bread – Lasts 10-14 days
Breads made with oils, sugar, milk, and eggs tend to spoil faster than leaner breads. And breads made with preservatives have the longest shelf life. Proper storage can extend the freshness of any bread.
Does putting bread in the fridge make it go stale faster?
Refrigeration actually slows down the staling process. The cold environment helps bread retain moisture and delays the starch crystals from setting. However, condensation may make the crust soggy.
To prevent accelerated staling in the fridge:
- Keep bread in a paper bag or plastic wrap.
- Use within 3-5 days for best quality.
- Avoid opening the fridge frequently.
- Store bread on interior shelf, not the door.
- Let refrigerated bread come to room temperature before eating.
With proper storage, bread can stay fresh refrigerated for 5-7 days (sliced) or 2-4 weeks (unopened loaf). The fridge extends bread’s shelf life significantly.
Does microwaving bread make it stale?
Microwaving does not make bread stale faster. In fact, it can temporarily reverse the staling, making the bread softer and fresher. The microwave heat causes moisture in the bread to migrate back to the stiff starchy areas. However, this effect only lasts for an hour or two.
To freshen up stale bread in the microwave:
- Slices – 10-15 seconds
- Half loaf – 20-25 seconds
- Whole loaf – 30-40 seconds
Watch carefully as bread can dry out or burn if microwaved too long. Let bread stand 1-2 minutes after microwaving to equalize moisture. Enjoy immediately before it re-stales.
Is moldy bread safe if toasted?
Toasting does not make moldy bread safe to eat. The high heat of toasting is not enough to kill mold spores or neutralize mycotoxins. Even if the bread looks fine after toasting, it could still contain dangerous mold byproducts.
Potential risks of eating moldy toasted bread include:
- Food poisoning
- Allergic reactions
- Respiratory problems
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Headaches, fatigue
Do not attempt to toast moldy bread and assume it’s safe. Always discard bread that has begun to mold throughout.
Can stale bread make you sick?
Stale bread is unpleasant but generally not hazardous. Bread that has simply gone dry, crunchy, and dull in flavor from staling will not make you sick.
However, bread that has visible mold or smells unpleasantly sour should not be eaten stale or fresh. Consuming rotten, moldy bread can cause:
- Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
- Stomach cramps and pain
- Headaches and dizziness
- Rashes and skin irritation
Before eating very stale bread, inspect carefully for signs of spoilage. Stale bread may not taste great, but leftover moisture usually prevents harmful mold growth.
Can old bread be used for anything?
Stale or old bread that has lost its appeal for eating can still be used for many purposes, including:
- Bread crumbs – Let bread dry out, then process into crumbs.
- Croutons – Cut into cubes, bake with oil or butter.
- Stuffing and dressing – Mix with vegetables and broth.
- Bread pudding – Combine with milk, eggs, and fruit.
- Strata – Layer with eggs and other fillings.
- French toast – Dip in egg and milk, then fry.
- Bread salad – Soak in vinaigrette or creamy dressing.
- Bruschetta – Toast and top with savory toppings.
- Bread soup – Simmer to soften.
With a little creativity, you can transform stale old bread into something delicious instead of throwing it away.
Checking for mold, staleness, and unpleasant odors are the best ways to determine if bread is still safe to eat 2 weeks after the printed date. Properly stored bread can remain fresh and mold-free for 5-7 days at room temperature, 2-4 weeks refrigerated, or 1-3 months frozen.
While not as tasty, stale bread 2 weeks past the date won’t make you sick if it shows no sign of spoilage. Feel free to freeze or use stale bread for other purposes. But discard moldy bread even if you cut off the spores – they likely spread throughout.
With care to prevent mold, even bread 2 weeks past its prime can still be enjoyed safely and prevent food waste.