Food & Drink

Revive Stale Bagels with This Simple Trick

No one likes to see a good carb go to waste, especially when it’s a perfectly soft, chewy, and crisp bagel. But like all baked goods, bagels have a shelf life — they can last up to 48 hours or three months, depending on how you store them. While nothing can recreate the magic of freshly baked bread, we have a tried-and-true technique for breathing fresh energy into stale bagels. Here’s everything you need to know about giving your bagels a second life.

How to revive stale bagels

The best way to revive a stale bagel is to submerge it in a bowl of warm (not hot) water, then loosely wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in either a toaster oven or an actual oven preheated to 350°F. After five minutes, remove the bagel, discard the foil, and slice and schmear it to your heart’s content. (Note that you never want to put a wet bagel in your regular toaster since doing so can damage the toaster and even cause a fire.)

This approach works because it essentially recreates the conditions in which fresh bagels are boiled. The water bath reintroduces moisture to the bread and rehydrates it from the outside in. Wrapping it in foil keeps the crust from drying out in the hot oven, and the high temperature turns the water into steam, which makes the interior of your bagel fluffy and chewy again. 

Prefer the char of a toasted bagel? After you soak and reheat it in a 350°F-oven for five minutes, slice it in half and pop it into the toaster, ensuring it is fully dry first. Brown it to your liking, then add your preferred spread or sandwich fillings and dig in. 

Good news for carb lovers: You can also use this trick to revive next-day baguettes and other breads. 

How to store bagels to keep them fresh

The best way to store bagels that you plan to eat in the near future is in a paper bag at room temperature, not the fridge. This allows air to circulate and prevents the starch molecules in a bagel from crystallizing in the chill of the fridge. 

To freeze bagels, wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap, then store them in a ziplock or zippered bag for up to three months. Defrost them overnight in the fridge, then rehydrate them using the soak-and-bake process outlined above. 

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