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Food Q & A

August 17, 1999

Maybe you don't live by bread alone, but you probably eat some bread, and you have to know how to store it.

Should you keep bread in the fridge?

"The refrigerator is the worst place for bread storage," e-mailed Marda Stoliar, director of International School of Baking in Manhattan, Kan.

Why?

"Refrigerating bread will keep it longer by reducing the growth of molds and yeasts, however, when you refrigerate bread, the starch-glutin mixture will change its consistency, and the bread will lose its 'fresh' texture and taste.

"In other words, it will stale more rapidly at refrigerator temperatures," e-mailed Mark R. McLellan, director of Institute of Food Science & Engineering, Texas A&M University.

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"Retrogradation is the technical term for staling," says Joseph H. Hotchkiss, professor of food science at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. As bread grows stale, its starch molecules cluster, forming crystalline regions, he explains. He compares it to matted hair.

Bread is best kept either at room temperature or frozen, Stoliar says. McLellan offers the same advice.

Putting bread in a plastic bag will keep it from drying out and getting stale, but it will lose its nice, crusty crust, according to Hotchkiss.

It's a compromise, he adds. Bread, like life, has an up side and a downside, Hotchkiss philosophizes.

- Kate Coleman, Staff Writer

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