Gluten free bread that is properly stored in the refrigerator will generally last 5-7 days past the printed date on the packaging. However, there are some variables that can affect how long refrigerated gluten free bread remains fresh and edible.
What is gluten free bread?
Gluten free bread is made without wheat, barley, or rye – grains that contain gluten. Instead, gluten free bread is made with gluten free flours and starches like rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, corn flour, soy flour, etc. It often contains xanthan or guar gum to help mimic the binding properties of gluten and hold the bread together.
Gluten free bread comes in many forms including sandwich bread, rolls, bagels, and more. It is an essential staple for those who must follow a gluten free diet for conditions like celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy.
Why refrigerate gluten free bread?
Refrigerating gluten free bread can help extend its freshness and prevent early staling. Since gluten free bread lacks the sturdy gluten structure, it tends to stale faster than regular bread. The cool environment of the refrigerator helps slow down chemical changes that lead to staling.
Some reasons to refrigerate gluten free bread include:
- Retains moisture better, preventing early drying out
- Slows mold growth
- Delays starch retrogradation which leads to stiffening of the bread
- Prevents premature hardening of fats and oils
- Slows down activity of enzymes that cause staling
How to store gluten free bread in the fridge
To maximize freshness, follow these tips for storing gluten free bread in the refrigerator:
- Make sure bread is completely cooled before refrigerating. Storing warm bread speeds up staling.
- Slice loaf before storing to expose more surface area to cold air.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in airtight plastic bag, squeezing out excess air.
- Place bread in the back of the fridge away from the door to avoid temperature fluctuations.
- If storing multiple items, separate gluten free bread from items with strong odors.
How long does refrigerated gluten free bread last unopened?
Unopened, factory-sealed gluten free bread will typically last 5-7 days past the “best by” or “use by” date on the packaging when stored in the refrigerator. The cool environment helps slow mold growth and staling. Follow the date on packaging and inspect bread before eating it.
How long does refrigerated gluten free bread last after opening?
Once opened, gluten free bread will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator depending on the ingredients. High moisture breads with eggs, milk or oil will spoil faster. Dense, low moisture breads last a bit longer. It’s important to tightly rewrap or store bread in airtight bags after each use to prevent drying out.
Signs that opened refrigerated gluten free bread has gone bad include:
- Mold growth
- Dry, hard texture
- Crumbling slices
- Visible tears in the structure
- Off smells or sour flavor
Does freezing extend the shelf life?
Yes, freezing gluten free bread can significantly extend its shelf life beyond refrigeration. Properly frozen, gluten free bread can last 2-3 months in the freezer.
To freeze gluten free bread:
- Allow bread to cool completely after baking/opening.
- Tightly wrap in plastic wrap or place in airtight bags.
- Squeeze out excess air.
- Label package with date.
- Freeze for up to 2-3 months at 0°F or below.
Thaw frozen gluten free bread overnight in the fridge. Don’t thaw at room temperature as this can encourage mold growth. Once thawed, use within 3-5 days.
Ways to use up gluten free bread before it spoils
If you find yourself with gluten free bread that’s close to spoiling or stale, try these creative ways to use it up:
- Bread crumbs or croutons: Process in a food processor into crumbs or cubes and use to coat chicken, fish, or toast up as croutons for salads and soups.
- Bread pudding: Combine cubed stale bread with eggs, milk, spices and mix-ins like dried fruit or nuts. Bake into a hearty bread pudding.
- Salad topping: Toast cubes of bread to use as a crunchy topping for green salads or grain bowls.
- Bruschetta: Toast slices and top with diced fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and aged balsamic for an easy appetizer.
- French toast: Whisk together eggs, milk and cinnamon. Dip stale bread slices into mixture and cook on griddle until golden brown.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does gluten free bread need to be refrigerated?
It’s not absolutely necessary, but refrigeration can more than double the shelf life of gluten free bread by slowing down staling and mold growth. This helps gluten free loaves stay fresher longer.
Should you keep gluten free bread in the fridge or pantry?
For maximum freshness, gluten free bread is best kept in the refrigerator. The cold environment will maintain soft texture and delay mold growth much longer than room temperature storage. However, well-wrapped loaves can be stored in the pantry for a day or two.
Can you freeze gluten free bread when it’s still fresh?
Yes, freezing fresh gluten free bread can extend its shelf life for months. Allow it to fully cool after opening, then wrap tightly and freeze. Gluten free bread can typically be frozen for 2-3 months.
What happens if you eat gluten free bread after it has expired?
Eating expired gluten free bread may upset your stomach, but it’s very unlikely to cause serious illness in otherwise healthy individuals. However, mold growth and very dry, stale texture are signs the bread is too old and best discarded. When in doubt, throw it out.
Does gluten free bread go bad faster than regular bread?
Yes, gluten free bread tends to go stale and mold faster than regular bread, often in as little as 3-5 days. The lack of gluten proteins results in a less cohesive structure. Refrigeration can help extend the shelf life of gluten free baked goods.
The shelf life of common gluten free breads
|Gluten Free Bread Type
|White sandwich bread
|Whole grain bread
With proper refrigerated storage, most gluten free breads will last around 5-7 days past the package date before opening. Once opened, expect refrigerated gluten free bread to stay fresh for 3-5 days if tightly wrapped. Freezing can significantly extend shelf life an additional 2-3 months for fresh gluten free bread. Keep an eye out for mold, drying, or other signs of spoilage and don’t chance eating gluten free bread past its prime.