Monday, January 3, 2011

bread bags

I've been making bread pretty much daily for the past decade, and in all that time I've come to a conclusion. Bread stored in plastic doesn't taste as good as bread stored, well, not in plastic. So with that decided, I then had to figure out what to store the bread in. In the humid midwest, this problem was easily solved. I bought a yard or two of linen toweling and stitched some bags -- just a fold on one side, french seams on two, and a rolled hem on the end. The bread stayed dry enough and damp enough, and linen naturally resists things like bacteria and bugs.

But the bags haven't worked nearly as well out here in the west. When I was a kid, growing up on the other side of these very mountains, my mom had a bread box to store her loaves. But the air was dry and the bread was always dry unless (you guessed it) it was stored in plastic even inside the box. I'm working on a solution, but would love input in the process. How does one skip plastic, incorporate linen, keep air circulating somewhat, and yet keep the bread moist enough to be chewable?


  1. What is it that you don't like about plastic? If it's something about the bag, there are tupperware-type breadboxes that work really well. Of course that doesn't help if you have a problem with plastic itself.

    I think the only way to get soft moist bread without plastic is to bake everyday. But you said you're already doing that--is it so dry that your bread gets stale in a day?

    I'll be interested to see your solution.

  2. i love the way the bag shapes the bread. what if you put the bread in the linen bag and then in the tupperware box? i used to put a slice of bread inside my cookie box to keep the cookies moist. i wonder if you could put a cookie in with the bread box? hee hee.

  3. any reason to make cookies is a good reason . . .

    I know, there's got to be some way to keep the linen close. Maybe doubling up the bags? I don't know if it's just me, but I can literally taste plastic in my bread -- even in a day. Not my favorite. I've been working on some non-plastic sandwich bags for school lunches (if my serger ever ever ever stops clogging itself after half an inch). Maybe the same idea for the bread.

  4. What about a sort of lap-over closure? An extra, narrowish strip of fabric at the open end of the bag, sewn into the side seams and one side of the end of the bag, able to be flipped back in order to open the bag, or flipped forward to offer a bit more closure.

    Or you could also go the velcro route - two pieces sewn the entire length of the opening would give it a good seal. Obviously not as charming as linen only, though.

  5. What about oilcloth? Although nearly all marketed "oilcloth" is actually coated with PVC. Real oilcloth is near impossible to find to purchase(although I didn't look too hard on a google search). But, I did find this article and a few others about making your own oilcloth (just use unboiled linseed oil...):

    You can always make your own oilcloth. It's quite possible, you know, and kind of a fun experiment. Start with a piece of heavyweight cotton canvas. Pick one that already has a print that you enjoy, or you can tie-dye it with fabric dyes, or even stamp it with colored oil paints. Now you need to stretch it, just like you would an artist's canvas. You want it smooth and you want it to hold still. So staple it to a square wooden frame. Now you need to take linseed oil and a paintbrush. You are going to paint the cloth in long strokes, all over the "good" side. Set it aside. It will take a couple of days to dry. Give it a few more coats. If you don't already have a design on it, pause between coats and add some color using oil paints. Add more coats of linseed. After you have a nice thick coating built up and it is thoroughly dry, remove your oilcloth from the frame and trim the unpainted edges...

    (*ironically, both the above articles talk about trying to avoid plastics, but then suggest using acrylic paints to decorate the canvas!)

    It might be a bit of work, but if you don't mind the "sticky" oilcloth, you could make a better non-plastic bread bag... and sandwich wrap/bag.. and...

    Thanks for the linen idea! I have been using plastic bags, and I get frustrated with them, too. Do you put the warm bread right into the bags? I can hardly wait to go buy some material.

  6. I did find some BPA-free coated cotton to make sandwich bags with (the prints are fantastic -, but it's pricey and I didn't have enough to make bread bags with. I just looked again and they've got oilcloth as well. I'll have to check that . . .

    I usually let the bread cool before I put it in the bags, but I've also put the warm bread straight into the bag out there in the lovely midwest and it works well too.

  7. by the way, I got the fabric for the bags in the photos at Erika's. superb source out there.

  8. Thanks! I was actually going to ask where you bought the fabric. I'll have to run and get some- after we dig out the 2 feet of snow that got dumped on us last night...

  9. Out of curiosity, did you come up with a solution? We're moving west soon as well, and I've just been wrapping my bread in cloth (to make a bag never crossed my mind...).

    And Nadine, the Moscow Food Co-op link brought back so many great memories! I used to shop there when first a college student. :)