female hands holding a dough ready for baking
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Bread is an essential part of the human diet, and for many of us, it's a favorite staple. But as much as we want to eat freshly baked bread every day, freshly baked bread is not accessible 24/7. But bread, for the most part, is available around the clock; at least in the United States. To make bread last longer on our shelves, food science has provided preservatives that keep bread from spoiling quickly. Preservatives used on bread can be artificial or natural. Preservatives plus proper bread storage should make your loaves last more than two to three days. Remember that too much preservative can eventually affect the taste of your baked goods.

Artificial Preservatives

There are a number of artificial preservatives used when baking bread, but the most commonly used ones are calcium propanoate and propionic acid. Calcium propanoate is a naturally occurring chemical in dairy products that is produced artificially to serve as an additive in food products. More calcium propanoate in the loaf is often marketed as “more calcium” in your bread. Propionic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria in your food, therefore extending its shelf life.

Natural Preservatives

Not all preservatives are artificial. Lecithin is a natural preservative that comes from soy or egg yolks. The presence of lecithin in your regular loaf of bread helps keep it fluffy and light. At the same time, it acts as a natural preservative for your bread. Powdered ascorbic acid is another well-known natural food preservative used in bread. It reduces the growth of microorganisms plus helps the yeast rise faster. You can crush a Vitamin C tablet with a mortar and pestle if you do not have powdered ascorbic acid.

Garlic and Clove

Garlic and clove are not only good flavors to have in your bread, but they also act as natural preservatives. Along with honey, ginger and cinnamon, they belong to the family of flavorful natural food preservatives. Cinnamon oil, when added after the dough rises, inhibits the rising of the yeast and therefore, lessens the breeding ground for microorganisms that turn into mold. Garlic’s antiseptic property provides a similar action with the popular taste of garlic.

Proper Storage

A good way to avoid bread from going stale (or bad) is to keep it away from direct sources of heat and sunlight. Heat produces moisture in the bread’s packaging, which makes it an environment conducive for growing mold and bacteria. Store loaves and buns in an airtight container. Bread with other additives such as fillings, creams, jams and cheeses tend to spoil faster; so buy only as much as you can consume within 24 hours.