June 7, 2017

How To Keep Bagels Fresh: 5 Ways to Preserve Bagel Goodness

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Do you know what is the best bagel? The best bagel is one that is cooked without preservative. Real bagels don’t have a hint of preservative in it, not even salt at the very least. But there is one problem with this: how do you keep it fresh? Without preservative, it is next to impossible to keep any kind of food fresh, or is it?

​Maybe you’re planning to bring bagels to mom and dad and are wondering how to keep them fresh, this article is for you. Bagels baked with zero preservatives can be stored at least for some time and still remain fresh. No, it’s not magic and there’s no wizardry involved in it. Just make sure you follow the tips that I will show you here because these are proven methods that enabled me to keep my bagels fresh for as long as three months.

What Makes Bagel Special​

If you don’t know how bagels are properly cooked, what you’ll get might just be a bread with a hole in it. But what exactly are the secrets behind the chewy bit and the shiny crust? Read on to find out.

According to Richard Coppedge of the Culinary Institute of America, the secret behind superior bagels is that the dough is made to sit in a refrigerator for a couple of days. The cool temperature slows down the activity of the yeast as the dough rises, making it release around 50 flavor compounds. This process is called retarding because it retards or slows down what is an otherwise fast process. It gives the yeast more time to release its wonderful flavor to the bread.

After refrigeration then comes the process of making bagel a “real bagel”— boiling. In this step, the chilled dough is boiled in a mixture of water and malt barley for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This process causes the dough to pre-gelatinize locking the liquid inside it resulting in more chewy bagels.

Some modern bagel makers are now doing away with the boiling and use steaming instead. This accomplishes the same result with the advantage of faster automation.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Bagels Fresh​

So how do you keep your bagels fresh? When the bagels that you’ve bought or made yourself has cooled down, place it inside a plastic bag. This will prevent bacteria from getting in and feast on your bagels. Make sure to remove a much are from the bag and seal it. This will make your bagels last for five days. If you need to store your bagels for more than five days, here are more tips:​

Freeze what you don’t eat


Don’t leave the bagels you can’t consume in the open. This will cause them to stale and change its taste. If you want your bagels to last longer, you freeze it. Real bagels don’t have salt and dairy product in the ingredients and that’s why they freeze well. You can slice your bagels before freezing so that they would fit well into the toaster when you need them.

Don’t refrigerate your bagels


Did you notice that when you refrigerate your bagels it become less chewy and drier? The problem is, this is our usual impulse—we refrigerate food that we can’t consume and we do the same with our bagels. The problem is, the fridge will remove the moisture in the bagels making it dry and less chewy. So if you will not store your bagels for a long time, just place it in the pantry, otherwise, just freeze it.

Don’t microwave the bagels


Microwaving the bagels is a huge no no for the simple yet serious reason that it’s water based. Although the microwave is your friend when in a hurry, it dehydrates the bagels making it less chewy and more rubbery. I’m sure you don’t want that in your bagels, do you? And if you overdo it, the bagels will become steamy and moist. Who wants a moist and rubbery bagel?

Take the time to thaw


At this point, you might already have the idea that bagels are not something you eat in a hurry. This food was perfected at a time when people don’t rush things and if the 21st-century consumer thinks that they can impose their hurried lifestyle on this food, they are wrong. If you have frozen your bagels and want to have it for breakfast, take the time to thaw it the night before. The standard thawing time is 2 hours then you toast it.

Just toast it


If the microwave is a huge no no, then what are you to do? Bagels are created to be toasted and you can just reheat them in a toaster at 325 degrees for 5 minutes and they’re good to go. For a warm and hearty breakfast, bagels are great with smoked salmon or cold cuts. It’s also great with cream cheese, chocolate spread, and jam.

​Pro Tips:

  • Don’t store different varieties of bagels together because the flavor will transfer.
  • Don’t store warm bagels in a plastic bag because the water vapor will make it soggy. Wait for it to cool down before storing.
  • Pre-slice the bagels in sizes that would fit your toaster. You will have an easier time toasting pre-sliced bagels after thawing.

​Final Thoughts

The best bagels are those that are cooked without preservative. You might find it hard to keep it fresh, but the tips that I provided will ensure that you can store it for as long as three months. Since bagels are water based, dunking it into the microwave oven will not do it any good. You have to take the time to thaw what you have frozen so that you will have fresh toasted bagels for breakfast.

Do you find these tips helpful? Do you have other ways to keep bagels fresh? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

    Claire J. Ruiz

    I'm Claire, and my passion is cooking. I believe that food is what actually unites people and the dining table is where we set aside our differences. When we eat we become vulnerable because enjoying food requires a different level of trust and surrender to the person preparing your food. Sharing and enjoying food is one of the most intimate experiences in life.​

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