I had no idea there were conspiracy theories about bread, but apparently there is one surrounding how fresh bread is packaged. This falls under the category of, “Hey, do you ever wonder why. . .?”

On your grocery store runs, do you occasionally buy fresh bread from the bakery section? Not the pretty loaves that are wrapped in plastic, but the ones that are bagged in paper? Yes, those. It’s typically a baguette to go with your pasta dinner or some yummy ciabatta or sourdough.

Some cautious consumers believe that they’re in paper to quicken their journey to being stale. That way, you’ll have to come back sooner and spend more money.

But the real reason is, actually, just the opposite— that paper bag is meant to help the bread to stay fresh.

The open paper bag allows air to circulate, keeping the outer crust crusty (in a good way), and the inner part of the bread moist.

If a crusty loaf is stored in plastic, the moisture works against its natural chemistry and it will turn soft. In either case, you may be able to keep it alive a bit longer, but you can say bye to the fresh crust.

Plastic bags are ideal for extending the shelf life of your sandwich bread and other softer loaves like challah. That makes sense since those types of breads will take longer to consume.

For fresh breads that have hardier crusts, it is best to eat them within a couple days of buying them. You also don’t want to stick them in the fridge. Putting it in the refrigerator will suck out its moisture.

If you are looking to lengthen your crusty bread’s life because you can’t eat it all within 2 to 3 days, there are tricks you can use. One of the things you can do is freeze it. You can pop it into a plastic storage container, put it in a freezer bag, or wrap it in plastic before placing it in the freezer.

For cut loaves, wrap the cut end in foil first. Thaw it completely at room temperature and then reheat it in the oven at 300 degrees for about ten minutes. Your other option is to slice it up before freezing and then toasting it slightly to thaw and reheat at the same time. Just watch out for dryness!

Shoppers with an eco-friendly preference like to keep their fresh bread in cloth bags. Simply transfer yours to a food-safe cloth bag and either store it on your countertop or a tin. Eat it up within a few days because it is not meant to grow old— or grow mold!

And don’t forget, there’s always the bread box (ceramic or wood). Don’t overstuff it; air needs to move around freely and you’re good. All is not lost should your bread go stale. Transform it into French toast, croutons, or stuffing with a recipe like this. Enjoy!

Were you clueless about the paper versus plastic packaging? Are you a believer in the supermarket stale bread conspiracy? How do you preserve your fresh loaves?