The best method from our experience, that doesn’t compromise on texture and flavour in any way is to slice it up, flash freeze it, and bag it up in freezer-safe bags with the air taken out. This way, whenever I need a slice or two, I just pop it in the toaster, and I have fresh sourdough bread at my fingertips.
Here’s a really quick step-by-step how-to, with further explanation below.
Let the loaf cool completely
Slice entire loaf into even slices
Lay all bread slices flat onto a tray
Place tray in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes
Take out partially frozen slices, and place in freezer safe bag
Remove as much air as you can from the bag.
Store in freezer.
Take out slices as and when needed and pop straight into the toaster, or defrost on countertop.
Now let’s go into a little more detail about each step and the reason why this method has an advantage over freezing a whole loaf when it comes to flavour and texture.
Slice Entire Loaf of Sourdough Bread
Once your bread is completely cooled, you will want to slice the whole thing. Normally, it is recommended to slice the bread as and when you need it, in order to retain its freshness, but as it will all be frozen, go ahead and slice the whole loaf.
Lay all the Bread Slices Flat onto a Tray
I use an ice cube tray from my freezer, but you can use any tray that will fit on a shelf in your freezer.
Put your tray into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. This is called flash freezing. It will not completely freeze the bread, but it will freeze the outer layers enough to make sure the bread doesn’t stick together when you store them in the freezer-safe bag.
This is not enough time for your bread to develop any freezer burn, and so the flavor and texture will remain as it is.
Store your Bread in a Resealable Freezer Bag
Now that the sourdough bread is partially frozen, you can stack them together in a resealable freezer-safe bag, and they won’t stick together. Remove as much air as possible from the bag to retain freshness in the bread. This is also what will prevent freezer burn.
Take out Bread Slices As and When Needed and Put Straight into the Toaster.
The slices can be taken out when needed, and put straight into the toaster from frozen. It will taste as good as, if not better than the day after it was baked!
Why is This the Best Way to Freeze Sourdough Bread?
One thing very specific about sourdough bread, is that it contains enzymes that are not found in other breads. This makes sourdough bread suitable to freeze once. You cannot refreeze sourdough bread. And so, because you cannot refreeze it, it is best to slice it up so you only need to defrost exactly how much bread you need. And the rest of the loaf will stay fresh in the freezer. Sourdough bread not only maintains its freshness in the freezer, but it actually continues to sour at a very slow rate while it is frozen, and so the flavor continues to develop. When you take it out of the freezer and toast it, it will taste as if it has just been baked and toasted. And depending on how long it has been in the freezer, it may even taste better than it did when you first baked it.
Why Not Freeze the Whole Loaf?
So what is so special about slicing it up first? Why not just freeze the whole loaf. Well, you could, but there are few things to consider…
It is Less Versatile to Freeze a Whole Loaf of Bread
When you have a whole loaf in the freezer, you only have the option of defrosting the whole loaf, even if you only needed a slice or two. And then the bread will become stale far quicker once it has been defrosted.
It Takes a lot Longer to Defrost a Whole Sourdough Loaf than it does to Defrost only a Slice.
Defrosting an entire loaf will take about 4 or 5 hours, depending on how big it is. And this time is also spent having the loaf out, which decreases it’s freshness further.
Or alternatively, you can rebake it in the oven for a period of time (usually around the same amount of time it took to bake it in the first place!), which will thicken your crust, and increase the risk of your loaf becoming too dry.