Quarantine Kitchen: Reviving Stale Bread

Welcome to Quarantine Kitchen, a guide through various “quarantine hacks” that I have tried during my stay at home adventures.

I’ve heard this come up a couple of times on various platforms over the course of quarantine times – the best way to revive stale bread is to soak it directly in water and reheat it in the oven.  This results in a re-hydrated loaf that can be safely sliced and consumed, thus stretching your stale bread for even more applications!

To be completely honest, this is something I would never consider doing.  The thought of completely submerging some old bread under water seems totally wrong, but I have to say – it works!  I tried this method twice last week, and I was absolutely shocked by how well this worked both times.

The first attempt at bread resuscitation focused on English muffins that we had purchased from a local bakery.  We purchased them on Saturday and finally got around to eating them on Wednesday night for a breakfast sandwich dinner.  Because these were from a small/artisan bakery, the shelf life of these are probably two days max, so I knew we were pushing it with letting them sit for so long.  When it came time to eat these, I was still able to slice them in half, although they were very hard and very stale.  I took both halves and ran them liberally under running water and tossed them in a 350F oven.  I was skeptical, because the water doesn’t really soak into the bread, but it’s enough to create steam in the oven and soak in as it warms through.  When the sandwich fillings were ready 5 minutes later, my English muffins had been perfectly revived and gently toasted.  No one would know that these were borderline inedible 5 minutes before.

I wanted to test this method twice, mostly because I had more stale bread on deck, but also I felt like this was too good to be true.  The second test was harder – a baguette chunk from the same bakery, baked on Saturday, with us ready to eat on Friday.  Basically, it was long past stale.  Hard as a rock.  I definitely wasn’t going to attempt cutting into it because the knife would probably slip, so I powered ahead.  Just like last time, I ran the loaf under cold water, and let it run a little longer into the open crumb side to really get as much water in there as possible.  Into the oven for 5 minutes, and the result was a perfectly sliceable loaf.  Absolutely shocked, I sliced the rehydrated loaf, seasoned with olive oil, and toasted to make croutons.  Again, no one would know that this bread was way past it’s prime.  This method saved yet another old loaf, and more importantly, another dinner!

On a scale of 1-10, here’s how I would rate this Quarantine Kitchen adventure:

  • Creativity: 7
    • (Do I think this is a fun, creative idea?)
  • Resourcefulness: 10
    • (Do I think a lot of people will have what they need to already do this at home, no shopping required?)
  • Result: 10
    • (How did it turn out?)
  • Repeatability: 10
    • (Would I do this again?)

I think this is a great method for restoring bread and minimizing food waste.  The next time your purchases from supporting local or your own baking adventures begin to go stale, give this method a try!

Please note:  I’m very sure this only works with stale bread.  Please do not do this if the bread is visibly moldy – that could potentially lead to a food safety problem (ie, an upset stomach), which is definitely not something that I endorse.  Other than that, happy baking!

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