The Real Bread Campaign is run by Sustain, with over 100 local bakeries signed up to offer the Loaf Mark. Proper bread is made with just a few ingredients: yeast, water, salt and sometimes flavours like herbs or olives. Real bread is also free from palm oil and chemical improvers. To store real bread, just buy what you need to eat up in a day or two, and store in a cool dry place. This breathable linen bag is made in Cornwall.
Don’t give stale or crusty bread to garden birds, as this can choke. Also never give bread with fat (like leftover buttered sandwiches) to birds, as this affects waterproofing and insulation of feathers.
Most supermarket bread is not freshly baked, it’s just part-baked loaves that are sent from distribution houses, then ‘finished off’ in-house. Most real bread is made in the early hours by proper bakers, who have a love and skill for their trade. Just like the French boulangerie (in France, bakers are not allowed to holiday at the same time).
Learn to Bake Your Own Bread
You can bake bread in the oven, but if baking regularly, it may be wise to invest in a small bread-making machine. Just gather a couple of good recipes and then bake your loaf every few days (most machines let you also make pizza dough and cakes). Keep fresh dough away from pets, as it can expand in the stomach. Many bread ingredients like dried fruits, onion, garlic and chocolate also toxic to animal friends.
Irish Soda Bread (Shane & Simple) is made with oat milk, and only needs 5 ingredients. It uses baking soda (invented by Native Americans who would use wood ash to make bread rise).
Short-Rise Artisan Bread (The Simple Veganista) only needs 4 ingredients, and can also be used to make homemade pizza dough. Or try the same blogger’s No-Knead Artisan Bread (long-rise – if you don’t have a Dutch oven, sub with any 5-quart pot or pan with a fitted lid – cast iron, enamel, ceramic or Pyrex).
Switch Over to Wholesome Quality Flours
It takes 350 ears of wheat to make one loaf of bread, and it’s illegal to bleach flour in England, though some brands may use animal ingredients to add nutrition so be aware of this. Just like washing vegetables, it’s good to cook flour to avoid bacteria (avoid ‘edible cookie dough recipes or licking the bowl before baking). Read Restoring Heritage Grains (on why we have so much gluten intolerance and IBS) and Amber Waves (how wheat farming went wrong).
Avoid refined white flour (as bad as white sugar) and instead use wholesome flours made by good brands like Doves Farm (also support local millers that also keeps windmills in use, so they don’t get sold to property developers to turn into luxury holiday homes). Also try ancient grains like spelt (easier to digest). Store flour in an airtight container for up to 3 months (wholemeal flour) or a few months longer for white. Don’t mix old and new flour.
How to Make Bread Last Longer
To make bread last longer, keep the cut side unexposed, and freeze leftover bread (you can put slices straight into the toaster, from the freezer). Avoid plastic bags (creates moisture) and store bread in an organic cotton bread bag or wooden bread bin.
Another good idea is Food Saver Bread Sheets. Infused with powerful botanicals to slow down spoilage, just drop a sheet near fresh baked bread or rolls, to keep them fresh (the company makes a similar product for cheese, which helps you to buy less).
The Best Shop-Bought Breads (& Dippers!)
Charlie & Ivy Bread Dippers (Yorkshire) are made with local rapeseed oil. Pour into a bowl and tear crusty bread, then dip! The range includes garlic, rosemary, peppercorn, blackberry, thyme and balsamic flavours.
Handmade Bakery (Yorkshire) was the first baker to offer community supported agriculture, where local people bought ‘bread bonds’ to fund the bakery, and got fresh loaves in return. Now fully funded, this thriving bakery offers classes to local people, on how to bake good bread.
Rough Handmade (Liverpool) is what a bakery should be. Everything is made fresh in front of you, then anything not sold is given to local charities, to prevent food waste. The founders say you don’t just buy a loaf here – it’s a place where ‘all your senses wake up’.