If your bread is currently sitting in your fridge, stop reading this and go take it out immediately!

It might surprise you to hear that keeping bread in your refrigerator is actually the worst thing you can do for its freshness. This may seem counter intuitive – considering refrigerators were invented to keep our food fresh – but bread is the exception to this rule.

Because it’s a little confusing, Serious Eats kindly broke the process down for us. Bread operates on the science of “retrogradation and recrystallization of starch,”, which basically means that during a bread’s lifetime (which begins after it has been baked), its starches will go back to their original, crystallized state.

Translation: your bread becomes hard and stale.

BreadThe Splendid Table
This recrystallization process in bread is sped up when the bread is kept in the fridge, therefore making your bread go bad more quickly.

Want to enjoy your bread longer? One tip is to keep your bread in spaces like bread boxes or microwaves. If you’re buying bread in bulk, rap it in an airtight container or bag to store it, then let it completely thaw before taking it back out of the container.

Another trick to try: buy your loaves whole, instead of sliced. Slice bread off as you want it and keep the whole loaf fresher for longer!

To see how long your bread will last, check out this handy chart by Eat By Date.