This is a common assumption, but is it accurate? Does gluten free bread mold faster than wheat bread or is it something that we have been assuming without proof?
Gluten free bread is usually packaged in shrinkwrap that extends the shelf life of the bread. After the packages have been opened, the shelf life is very similar. Some things that will shorten the shelf life are water droplets on the inside of the package or any moist ingredients in the bread like fresh fruit or herbs.
To find out what bread molds faster we took six different loaves of bread, two of which were gluten free, and left them out to see which bread would mold first. The results were actually different than I thought would happen.
Did Gluten Free Bread Mold First?
One of the gluten free slices of bread did in fact mold first.
The first to mold was the Franz Gluten Free Blueberry Bread.
The second one to mold was the Franz Gluten Free Hamburger Bun.
The third bread to mold was the Franz Gluten Free 7 Grain Bread.
The fourth bread to mold was Dave’s Killer Bread.
The fifth bread to mold was Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Honey White Bread.
The sixth and final bread to mold was the Winco Bakeshop Potato Bread.
Set Up And Experiment
I kept hearing everyone saying that gluten free bread molds quickly. And that it molds much faster than wheat bread. I wanted to test this theory.
The Franz Gluten Free Blueberry Bread and Franz Hamburger Buns were both from loaves of bread that had been previously opened. I watched them for mold growth as a control because they should be the first to grow mold.
The other four loaves of bread were newly opened for this experiment.
I took a slice of bread from the middle of each package and put it in its own ziplock bag that was securely closed. No additional moisture or additives were put in the bags. This would mimic a loaf of bread that had been opened and sealed shut again and left on a kitchen counter.
Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bread was frozen when purchased, the rest were at room temp.
The tray of bread was left out of the sun at room temperature. I started the experiment on July 9 and ended it on July 20.
I wrote down the expiration dates from each package to see what role that would play as well.
The two control loaves that had already been opened were both molded by the third day.
It took until Day 6 for Dave’s Killer Bread to mold, and Day 8 for the Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free to mold. Winco Bakehouse didn’t mold until day 12.
My expectation was that the Winco Bakehouse bread would mold first (after the controls that molded almost immediately). I thought that Dave’s Killer Bread would last the longest with Canyon Bakehouse and Franz molding after Winco.
How Does Packaging On Gluten Free Bread Impact Shelf Life?
Gluten free bread typically has shrinkwrap on them to prevent moldy bread and extend shelf life. The gluten free bread in our experiment was all in this shrinkwrap. These loaves of bread have a significantly longer shelf life before they are opened.
All bread was purchased in early July. The Franz Gluten Free bread had mid-August expiration dates, the Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bread expired in October. Dave’s Killer Bread expired 10 days after I purchased it, and the freshly made bread from Winco Bakehouse expired 5 days after purchase.
Gluten Free bread is typically sold in shrinkwrap or even frozen to extend how long they have to sell it and keep it fresh the longest.
This extension ends the moment the seal is broken.
In this experiment, the gluten free bread did not have any extra benefits due to how it was packaged. If we had watched full loaves of bread still inside their packaging without breaking the seals, this would have had an impact.
What Role Do Individual Ingredients Play In When Bread Molds?
Individual ingredients in a loaf can impact how fast it will mold.
Specifically, the moisture content of these additional ingredients will impact how long the loaf of bread lasts.
The blueberries in Franz Gluten Free Blueberry Bread increased the likelihood that it would mold faster than the others.
However, the Winco Bakehouse Bread was a Potato loaf. Adding potato to that bread did not decrease the time it would last because there were not pockets of moisture like with the blueberries.
If the fresh or wet ingredients are evenly distributed and compensated for with the dry ingredients, it will not mold faster than it otherwise would.
What Do The Expiration Dates Mean For Bread Molding?
The expiration dates on the loaves of bread varied from July to October. They did not start to mold strictly in order of their expiration date.
For gluten free bread what is important is when it is removed from the freezer and thawed, or when the seal is broken on the package more than the actual expiration date.
The gluten free breads in this experiment did in fact mold by their expiration date. However, this could be because the one with the furthest expiration date was sold frozen while the gluten free breads that expired first were only sold in vacuum-sealed packages.
Conclusions And Recommendations
When choosing gluten free bread it is important to examine the packaging.
Sometimes the packaging can get accidentally nicked when boxes they arrive in are opened and it gets missed. If this has happened and there is no longer a seal on that loaf of bread, it will mold and expire as quickly as if you had opened it at home.
Besides checking the seal on a package, you should look to see if the inside has any condensation. If there is moisture trapped inside this could indicate that it was packaged while it was still warm or hot.
Those moisture droplets that are trapped will reduce the time you have to open it before the expiration date. It will dramatically increase the likelihood that it will mold far before that expiration date.
I have personally had both of these situations happen to me and found bread that was moldy months before it was set to expire.
When I don’t know any of the brands I have in front of me, I have a small list of things I look for to know which to choose.
The factors I use to choose bread for my family are:
- Ingredients list. I make sure that there is not any wheat, rye, barley, or oats in it.
- How soft is the bread? Just give it a gentle squeeze to see if it has any give.
- Are there any holes or does the sealed package on the inside feel like it isn’t sealed?
- Is there any condensation on the inside of the package?
- If possible, I like to read reviews on bread I haven’t tried before. However, there are so many opinions on what makes bread good that it can be difficult to dechipher if this will be something your family will enjoy.
In the future, I would like to run this experiment again with more brands that are both gluten free and wheat with different factors to consider. But for now, I am satisfied that how fast it molds does not depend only on whether or not it contains gluten.
Check out my favorite recommendations for bread here.
Wondering about the cost of gluten free bread? Check it out here.
Does it cost more to eat gluten free? Read about the survey we did.