There’s a lot to love about Trader Joe’s. The ridiculously cheap Two Buck Chuck, the vast array of cheeses at price points that can’t be beat, the impressive frozen offerings that a busy host could totally pass off as their own creation to unsuspecting dinner guests… that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the good reasons to shop at TJ’s.
Really, it would take a lot less time to list the things we don’t love about Trader Joe’s, because that list consists of exactly one thing: bakery products that seem to spoil minutes after you leave the store.
Yes, we’re here to talk about the bread. And what we’re about to tell you ain’t pretty.
Sure, everyone loves bread. It brings people together and reveals their true nature, like in Aladdin!
But sometimes, bread goes bad. And it’s not your imagination: Trader Joe’s bread actually does go bad really fast. It doesn’t matter if you store it on the counter or in the refrigerator, or even what kind of bread you buy — whether it’s sprouted multi-grain, sourdough, bagels, lavash, or tortillas — in what seems like no time at all, you see the first signs of mold.
And the internet has noticed. Threads on Quora, Reddit, and more are dedicated to the subject, with one Yelp review reading,
“Every time I buy bread or pita at Trader Joe’s, it goes moldy in about 2 days — way before its expiration date.”
So what gives?
Well, based on the Trader Joe’s website, it seems it’s not what’s in the bread, it’s what isn’t in the bread.
See, TJ’s makes a promise to its customers that none of the foods sold under the Trader Joe’s private label will contain artificial preservatives. None. Zero.
Trader Joe’s explains their position on artificial preservatives like this:
“Preservatives are used in food to prevent spoilage and to maintain nutritional value, appearance and/or flavor for a longer period. Artificial preservatives are synthetically produced chemical substances, like disodium ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid or butylated hydroxyanisole. Our theory is, if it is tough to get out of the mouth, don’t put it in the mouth. For preservation purposes, we choose to use substances from natural sources like sugar, salt, vinegar, celery juice and/or rosemary extract…”
But celery juice and vinegar, effective as they may be as a natural preservative, are less effective than the artificial ingredients they replace, and that lack of artificial preservatives means that you can’t expect your Trader Joe’s sprouted wheat sourdough to last as long as a loaf of preservative-laden cheap white bread that’s somehow already been sitting on the dollar store shelf for a week.
So while TJ’s promises “great quality fare for exceptional, everyday prices,” they obviously can’t promise that preservative-free bread will have a lengthy shelf life.
And seeing your bread turn moldy and gross is enough to make you rethink your entire outlook on bread.
Luckily, there are a couple of tricks to extending the life of your Trader Joe’s bread. One Redditor who claimed to be a Trader Joe’s manager revealed that the new bread is put in the back, pushing older loaves to the front. So if you want fresh bread, reach in back and find the newest loaf you can. He also explained that looming expiration dates may indicate the store is over-ordering, so if you’re lucky enough to have more than one Trader Joe’s near you, it might be worth checking out another store’s selection.
Still, if you really want to make sure that your Trader Joe’s bread doesn’t go bad, there’s the old stand-by: the freezer. According to Epicurious, freezing is far and away the best method for preserving bread. Not only does freezing guard against mold and the staling process, but it also means your bread will return to the same state of glory as the day you bought it. That’s because, when you pop a slice of frozen bread into your toaster, the toasting process will bring those frozen starches back to life and make your bread taste just like new again.
So if you’re dead set on living life on the edge by buying Trader Joe’s bread, our suggestion is to just buy as much of that delicious bread as you like and toss it all in the freezer. That way you’ll never have to deal with a moldy slice again.
Watch the video to learn about the one item from Trader Joe’s That Will Never Stay Fresh!
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