Need to keep your hamburger and hot dog buns fresh between outdoor barbecues? If you think putting them in the fridge is the way to go, you're totally wrong.
The truth is, if you want to keep your burger buns (or any bread, for that matter) fresher longer, wrapping them in plastic and storing them in the fridge is the worst thing you can do.
When starches in the bread crystallize and incorporate water into that crystalline structure, they get hard -- and stale, according to “Master of the Grill,” a new book out by the chefs at America's Test Kitchen. But you can control how fast this happens.
When you put bread in the fridge, at a temperature colder than room temp but not freezing, this crystallization process is sped up, and your bread becomes stale faster. But when you store bread at below-freezing temperatures -- in the freezer, for example -- this process is slowed way down.
"We found that refrigerated bread staled in just a day and bread stored at room temperature staled in just two days -- but frozen bread held up well for a month," they explain in the book.
Staling (also known as retrogradation) occurs six times faster at temps ranging 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but below freezing, it happens in about a month, ATK said.
So if you're going to use your fresh bread within two days, the shelf life is the best life. But any longer than that and you're better off freezing the bread and thawing it out the day of your barbecue.
Check out these other hacks that we've learned from years of cooking outside: