Warm, freshly toasted bagels are a delicious and comforting way to get your day started. They make a conveniently quick breakfast too. Sinking your teeth into a stale bagel, however, is not quite the same.
Once bagels have been standing around for more than 2 days or are kept in the refrigerator, they become hard, dry, and stale quickly—and aren’t very enjoyable.
You may be surprised to know that the best way to store fresh bagels that you are not going to eat within a few days is to freeze them.
Don’t even bother with the refrigerator, just head straight for the freezer to prolong their shelf life and quality.
Here is everything you need to know about freezing bagels for the best quality preservation.
Types of Bagels
Traditionally, bagels are egg-free, made with yeasted wheat and malt instead of sugar. The round bread-like rolls have a hole in the middle, similar to a doughnut.
Bagels are cooked for 1 to 2 minutes in boiling hot water and then browned in the oven to yield a crisp crust.
With mass production for grocery stores, traditional bagels have evolved to include all kinds of toppings and fillings making them not only a great breakfast item but a popular base for sandwiches or anytime snack.
Bagels are now made with a variety of flours including rye, bran, sourdough, wholewheat, and multigrain. Additions and toppings can vary from poppy and sesame seeds to garlic, cinnamon, raisin, blueberry, chocolate chip, and cheese.
The best way to enjoy a bagel is fresh out the oven from a bakery or homemade. Grocery stores, however, sell them pre-packaged with additives which extend their shelf life for a few extra days. Bagels can be eaten toasted or untoasted.
Due to the popularity of bagels, snack brands have developed spin-offs such as bagel crisps—a mini form of sliced bagel snacks.
Can Bagels Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze bagels, in fact, they freeze very well. Bagels are best frozen when fresh. The longer you wait before freezing them, the poorer the quality will be once you are ready to eat them.
Bagels that are homemade should be cooled completely before packing to freeze. Freezing bagels while still warm will cause freezer burn and ruin the quality, flavor, and texture of the bagel.
It is also very important to protect the bagels from contact with moisture and air on freezing by wrapping them well in an air-tight environment.
Can you freeze bagels before baking?
Homemade bagels can be frozen before baking, however, the yeasted dough undergoes several steps in the rising process, so it is important to take note of which stage you freeze it at. If you freeze the dough after the first rise, make sure to note this on the wrapping when you freeze it.
Keep in mind that the uncooked yeasted dough will take almost twice as long to rise once it has been frozen.
To freeze the dough, prepare it as per the recipe and allow the dough to prove. Knock the dough back and shape it as desired. Line a baking sheet with lightly greased wax paper or parchment paper. Place the bagels on the baking sheet in a single layer, not touching each other, and freeze until hard.
Once frozen, remove the bagel dough and wrap it in cling film. Place the wrapped dough in a resealable freezer bag and label with the instructions for baking and the date. You can freeze your own bagels for up to 3 months before baking the dough.
How To Freeze Bagels
Step 1: Slice
Once a whole bagel has been fully frozen, it is pretty hard to slice. Considering that you will likely pop the bagels in the toaster straight from freezing, make it easy on yourself. Slice the bagels into halves before placing them in the freezer.
Freezing the sliced bagels may result in them drying out a little quicker, however, if you are planning on toasting them anyway, it won’t be noticeable.
Step 2: Wrap
Tightly wrap the bagel halves in beeswax paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil. Ensure that all the edges are completely covered and there are no small gaps where air can enter.
Step 3: Pack
Place the wrapped bagels in a resealable freezer safe plastic bag as an extra layer of protection and also to keep them together during storage. Press out as much air as possible before sealing the freezer safe bag.
Step 4: Label and Freeze
Label the freezer bag with the date using a permanent marker in order to keep track of how long the bagels have been stored. Keep the bagels in a space where they won’t get squashed by other items in the freezer, especially while they are still a little soft.
How To Defrost Frozen Bagels
You don’t need to defrost bagels. Frozen bagels can be placed in the toaster or oven without being thawed. They may need to be heated a few minutes longer than if they were fresh.
If you require the bagel thawed for use in another recipe, for example a crumb topping or bread-bagel pudding, you can let them thaw at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
There is no reason any bagel should ever go to waste. These delicious golden-brown baked rings can be frozen to prolong their shelf life. Don’t even refrigerate bagels if you have too many, because frozen bagels last longer and can be transformed into bread-pudding, French toast, croutons, or bagel chips.
When freezing bagels, it is best to get them in the freezer while fresh. Plastic wrap them very well to protect them from contact with air and moisture which results in freezer burn.
No need to worry about a stale breakfast. Take your frozen bagel straight from the freezer to the toaster, and less than 10 minutes later, enjoy a delicious warm bagel to start off your day. Simple and stress-free.
Up next: how to freeze donuts
*photo by bhofack2/depositphotos