A bread box may not be the first item you think of when it comes to kitchenware, but it’s certainly one of the most underrated, and definitely underutilized in today’s kitchens. Fortunately, the bread box is on the comeback, as more and more people are realizing why it was so useful in times past.
What was once a common site on every kitchen counter for decades, the bread box slowly fell out of favor around the 1980s, as the popularization of mass-produced breads began to take over, and many consumers abandoned fresh-baked breads.
The reason was fairly simple enough. Commercial breads were pre-sliced, full of preservatives, and easy to keep in their included plastic bags. While these breads were able to last longer, it came at the expense of both quality and nutritional value.
Fresh-baked bread is more accessible than ever, which is a big reason as to why so many are making the switch back. These types of breads require a different storage method than commercials breads, which is where the bread box comes in.
Simple and often stylish, bread boxes are now available in countless designs and styles, and are making their way back in to kitchens all over.
Unfamiliar with what a bread box even is? Wondering what the benefits and advantages are? We’ve got you covered.
A bread box isn’t exactly a “box,” but it’s also not a complicated item. Often large enough for two regular loaves of bread, a bread box is designed to hold bread, while keeping it from going stale. It’s also good for keeping the bread away from pests who might otherwise get to it when it’s by itself on a counter.
The bread box’s lid is usually facing towards the front, and can be easily lifted to access the contents. Some lids may be on rollers and have hinges that allow them to be rolled back into the box, kind of like a miniature garage door.
Given their elongated shape, bread boxes are easy to place in the kitchen, as they don’t stick out very much. Bread boxes come in a variety of materials and designs, but all of them offer the same purpose.
In a perfect world, we would have fresh-baked bread every day. This certainly is an option for some, but not for the vast majority.
The number one goal with any kind of bread, fresh-baked or not, is keeping it fresh. This doesn't just mean preserving it for as long as possible, but retaining the best characteristics of the bread.
For instance, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people want to keep their bread moist and chewy, and a crispy crust as well. When you store bread in a plastic wrapper or bag, you may it may stay relatively soft, but it will still have a dry feel to it, and the crust certainly isn’t crispy.
If you leave bread on the counter, it will be as hard as a rock by the next day. The same is true if you leave it in a paper bag.
The process that causes bread to become dry and unappealing is called retrogradation. This happens in any food that has starch. Retrogradation occurs when the starch molecules in the bread begin to crystallize. Trapping in an appropriate amount of moisture
There are some that choose to store bread in refrigerators, thinking that keeping it cold will lock in moisture and prevent it from going stale. You may have even tried this yourself. Although this method is definitely understandable, bread is one of the few things that won’t keep better just because it’s in a refrigerated environment.
The colder temperatures actually speeds up the retrogradation process, resulting in very dry bread in around 24 hours. It doesn't really matter what kind of bread either, as this will happen to both fresh and commercially made bread.
The best way to keep bread fresh is by controlling the humidity, and the temperature. This is where the bread box comes in.
A bread box works by retaining just enough moisture to slow retrogradation, keeping the inside moist, and the outside crispy. Although the box is sealed at its entry point, there are still some areas that let just a bit of air in and out. This traps humidity in, but not too much.
When used in a normal home temperature, a bread box can keep most breads close to fresh for around 3 or 4 full days. This extends the life of the bread by preventing it from hardening, or by hastening the molding process, which an airtight container will do.
Using the bread box is as easy as you’d imagine. Simply place the bread in when not in use, and close the box’s door. Be sure to keep it outside of direct sunlight, and away from any high heat source such as an oven or stove, and you’re good to go.
Although bread is the obvious food to store in a bread box, it actually works well with many other baked goods as well. This can include everything from pastries to cookies.
The evolution of the bread box over time has resulted in a variety of types, each with different looks, materials, designs, and so on.
The best way to classify bread boxes is by what they are made of.
Wooden bread boxes are often the kind that most people first think of when they hear the term. Vintage wooden bread boxes are highly sought after these days, and contain old style lettering and designs that offer a throwback feel.
Newer versions often have a more modern look, but provide the same functionality. Wooden bread boxes tend to be large enough for two loaves, but not always.
Plastic bread boxes come in many different styles, with some that appear similar to tupperware. Many plastic bread boxes are expandable, and almost always see through. Plastic bread boxes are good for pantries and cabinets, in case the user doesn’t have ample counter space to keep one out all the time.
Stainless steel bread boxes are another good example of vintage bread boxes that have a more modern look these days. Thee bread boxes often have a clean, simple aesthetic to them, and come in many different shapes and designs.
Ceramic bread boxes were fairly prevalent once upon a time, but not so much anymore. Many that have them often use them as a decorative piece on their counter or buffet. They can be quite heavy, and somewhat fragile as well. Regardless, they work just as well as other types.
Perhaps the most vintage of them all, enamel bread boxes are made from thin metal, and usually have a decorative print on the front.
They give off a sort of farmhouse vibe, and are rather easy to keep clean and use for decades. Few manufacturers still make enamel bread boxes, but it is possible to find them from time to time.
You have plenty of choices when it comes to how your bread box opens.
The roll top is a very common door type with many of the old style wooden bread boxes. The door to the bread box faces towards the front, and opens by sliding the door back towards the box.
The door is on a track, and is made from several individual pieces so it can flex as it moves along the track. Roll tops are very convenient, and among the easiest to access and use
Hinge door bread boxes can be found with many different types and materials. These doors are very simple, and are operated by lifting the handle to open the door which is connected with hinges. These can also sometimes be known as “fall front” doors, depending on the manufacturer.
A pull-open door bread box is rare, but very convenient. They are operated by pulling a handle towards you, which simultaneously opens the door, and pulls the tray that the bread is on towards you.
Bread boxes with lids come in many varieties. Plastic bread boxes that lay on their side will have a “pop off” lid that’s similar to a tupperware container. Bread boxes made from other materials will often have a lid with a handle, that sits over the rest of the bread box.
As you may imagine, bread boxes are made in many different shapes and sizes, and some will have very unique and sometimes innovative designs.
There isn’t an official standard size for bread boxes, but the majority of them will be at least 1.5’ long. Some plastic models may be able to extend or contract. Most bread boxes will have two separate platforms inside as well, for either storing two loaves of bread together, or other baked goods along with the bread.
Weight isn’t a main concern with bread boxes, as they are stationary and rarely need to be moved. Bread boxes made from wood often weigh the most, along with stainless steel. Plastic models are almost always the lightest, since they are likely to be moved around at least sometimes.
A large percentage of bread boxes utilize an oval shape in order to accommodate the bread easier. Some models may be taller than others depending on their capacity, but the oval shape is the most common. Some specialty bread boxes may have more of a square shape that caters to specific types of bread.
Designs and styles are where there is the most variance with bread boxes. Some models offer a traditional design that’s made to look like the old wooden bread boxes of years past. Others take a much more modern approach, and feature polished stainless steel, vibrant colors, and a minimalist look that’s catered towards contemporary kitchens.
Bread boxes are currently manufactured by a large amount of brands around the world, but these five are among the highest quality and most popular.
Brabantia is a Dutch household product brand that makes everything from bathroom products to kitchenwares. They take a more contemporary approach to their designs, which shows through on all of the products they manufacture.
Brabantia bread boxes are mostly made from steel, and are available on both roll top and drop door designs. They come in many different sizes, and there are numerous color options as well.
All-Green Products is a lifestyle company that focuses on smart, stylish home and kitchen products. In addition to bread boxes, the company also offers portion control containers. All-Green bread boxes take a more vintage approach, which includes both a throwback design and colors.
Based in Valencia, California, Mountain Woods is a home and kitchenware company that emphasizes not just a high level of craftsmanship, but eco-friendly and sustainable business practices as well.
Mountain Woods bread boxes are made from bamboo, and come in several different designs and sizes. Their bread boxes take a more traditional appearance, and are available in both roll back and drop down door styles.
Casa Pura puts out a wide range of products, spanning everything from kitchenware to items for your backyard. Casa Pura bread boxes showcase an updated aesthetic that is perfect for modern kitchens with a more minimal decor approach.
Their bread boxes are made from metal, and feature a sleek, smooth design which you can get in a handful of versatile colors.
Typhoon is a well known manufacturer of homeware and kitchen goods, with their products available in a wide range of outlets. They emphasize functionality and design with their products, which bodes well for their bread boxes.
Typhoon bread boxes come in many different designs and styles, which includes vintage replicas, and more modern designs for those that like a contemporary look instead.
Before setting out to purchase a bread box for your home, there are a number of aspects you should consider beforehand. By doing so, you can ensure that you’ll end up with the bread box that is perfect for your kitchen.
The size of a bread box can be deceiving at times. Measure the proposed spot on your counter to make sure that it can accommodate the size of the bread box you are considering. This not only includes the length, but also the height of the bread box.
In some cases, while you may be able to fit the bread box in, it may seem a bit cramped or out of place if space is limited. Try to allow for a few inches on each side if there are other appliances nearby.
Depending on your kitchen setup, you may need the bread box to be accessible at a certain angle or side. For instance, if you have a cabinet or overhang above where your bread box is going, a lift top bread box may not be the best idea, as you’ll likely have to slide the entire thing out towards you before you lift the lid off.
If you have limited space above your bread box, consider narrowing your options to roll top models, or anything that opens from the front.
Although many bread boxes have room for more than one loaf, some will not be able to hold more than one. If you have a large family, or if you want to use the bread box to hold other baked items in addition to the bread, you’ll need to look for bread boxes that have at least two shelves inside.
Others may not have a shelf inside, but will still have ample room to hold two breads side by side. Whatever works for you.
Hey, looks are important. If you have a super-modern kitchen full of matte white and brushed stainless steel appliances, a 1950s style wooden bread box with elaborate lettering may not be the best option if you are looking for cohesion in your kitchen’s look.
On the other hand, if you have a kitchen with many vintage appliances and decor, a modern bread box can throw off the vibe you have going. There are plenty of options for bread boxes, so it’s not hard to find the right design that fits your tastes and decor the best.
This goes hand in hand with the design aspect. You may not think the color of your bread box matters all that much, but it can make a big difference in how it blends in with your kitchen.
Many of the stainless steel bread boxes out there have a surprising amount of color options, with everything from the standard white and grey, to deep reds and light turquoise.
Keeping your bread as fresh as possible isn’t very complicated. A little common sense goes a long way. The best way to store bread in a box is simply to keep things simple.
A clean breadbox is essential to ensuring the best environment for keeping bread fresh for as long as possible. Bread crumbs, mold, and other messes from baked goods need to be addressed quickly when encountered.
Wood bread boxes require the most discretion when cleaning, as the wood poses certain challenges, along with the fact that it is more fragile and prone to issues than other materials.
Begin by wiping out any crumbs still left in the box. After doing so, rinse the box out with warm water and just a touch of dish soap.
If there is mold inside, use a soft scrub brush to get as much loose as you can. After rinsing the box out, clean with hot vinegar to sanitize and remove any traces of mold. Rinse again, and allow to dry with the box open.
Other standard bread box materials, such as stainless steel, plastic, and ceramic, are all very easy to clean, and lack the porous surfaces that wood has. First rid the bread box of any crumbs, and then use a soft sponge and warm, soapy water to thoroughly clean the inside. Wipe dry with a towel afterwards, and you’re all set.
Bread boxes are essential for anyone who enjoys bread on a regular basis, and wants an easy and effective way to keep it fresh, without sacrificing style.
Now that you’re up to speed on the advantages and uses of bread boxes, it’s time to start shopping. Don't know where to start? Check out our helpful buying guide and bread box reviews that can help point you in the right direction.