My experience with gingerbread revolves around my kids building tiny gingerbread houses during Christmas parties every year. I’ve often wondered if we can eat the finished product and how long they last sitting around the house. So, I did a bit of research and decided to share my findings with you.
Gingerbread cookies and houses in airtight containers can last 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature and 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator. Cake-like gingerbread can last 2-3 days in the pantry and 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator. All of these products, if wrapped and frozen, can last from 6 to 8 months.
How long gingerbread lasts:
|Type of Gingerbread||Room Temperature||In the Fridge||In the Freezer|
|Cookies or Houses||2-3 Weeks||3-4 Weeks||6-8 Months|
|Cake-Like Gingerbread||2-3 Days||5-7 Days||6-8 Months|
|Gingerbread Dough||N/A||Up to 3 Days||Up to 3 Months|
Now, let’s delve more deeply into the topic just in case you had any more questions.
How Long Does Gingerbread Last Once Made?
Once made, different gingerbreads can last different amounts of time. This is mainly due to whether the gingerbread has been properly stored or not. Keeping it inside a refrigerator or a freezer will extend the shelf life, of course.
However, gingerbread can be stored in pantries, on tables, or in counters at room temperatures and still be good for a while, just not as long as if it was kept cold. Humidity plays a role in gingerbread shelf-life too — the more humidity the gingerbread encounters, generally, the sooner it will spoil.
The freshness period of gingerbread can also vary because gingerbread recipes (and their ingredients) are often very different from each other. Most gingerbreads are comprised of a combination of flour, sugar, ginger, molasses, baking soda, and a type of shortening (usually butter, but sometimes oil). Additional ingredients can include eggs, cream, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and other spices.
Softer, cake-like gingerbreads will usually last about 5 to 7 days, if stored in a pantry. Cookie-like or biscuit gingerbreads can last up to two weeks, with some sources saying to almost a month if put inside an airtight container, like this one. Gingerbread houses can last three to four weeks in pantry conditions. Finally, all of these gingerbreads can last 6 to 8 months in the freezer.
Should Gingerbread Be Refrigerated?
Cake-like gingerbreads should be kept in the refrigerator, where they will last longer than the pantry or room temperature conditions. However, they will tend to dry out in the fridge if left uncovered. For cookies and houses, you will want to store them in an airtight container in the pantry or on the kitchen table. Refrigerator conditions will cause the walls of the gingerbread house to wilt, so you will also want to keep whatever will fit in a refrigerator storage container.
How Long Does Gingerbread Stay Good in the Fridge?
Cake-like gingerbreads can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Gingerbread houses and cookies can last about 3 to 4 weeks in refrigerator conditions. However, because of moisture, it is more recommended to keep these items in airtight containers on the counter or table.
How Long Does Gingerbread Stay Good in the Freezer?
Gingerbread stays good in the freezer for a period of 6 to 8 months. This goes for cake-like gingerbreads, cookies, houses, and even ginger snaps. To freeze gingerbread, use an airtight container. Though the gingerbread can last a long time in the freezer, even beyond 8 months, its quality will drop the longer it is there.
How Long Does Gingerbread Dough Last?
Because eggs are often an ingredient in gingerbread and gingerbread cookies, homemade gingerbread dough usually lasts up to 3 days in the refrigerator. With proper airtight wrapping, gingerbread dough can last up to 3 months in the freezer. Make sure you mark/date whatever dough you place in the freezer as a reference.
How To Properly Store Gingerbread
To properly store gingerbread, you will want to avoid too much contact with humidity or moisture. Wrap (or simply cover) soft, cake-like gingerbread with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. For the same type of gingerbread, you can wrap — or double-wrap — it in plastic or freezer wrap to put it in the freezer.
For gingerbread cookies, houses, and ginger snaps, use an airtight container and keep it on a table or in the pantry. You may want to wrap these items in plastic wrap or aluminum foil first (certainly if you are freezing them). For freezing, double-wrap in plastic or freezer wrap and put it in an airtight container.
How Do You Keep A Gingerbread House Fresh?
A gingerbread house can be double-wrapped in plastic wrap on aluminum foil and put into an airtight container. The container can then be kept on a counter, in a pantry, or a freezer. Gingerbread houses left in room temperatures usually last 2 to 3 weeks, frozen gingerbread houses will last 6 to 8 months.
Does Gingerbread Go Bad?
Gingerbread can definitely go bad, especially if exposed to humidity and warm temperatures. After a time, it will go hard, stale, dry, and be generally inedible.
How Do You Know When Gingerbread Goes Bad?
You can tell if gingerbread goes bad in the following ways:
- Texture- If the gingerbread is hard, dry, or stale, it probably has gone bad.
- Smell- Fresh gingerbread has a strong smell of its ingredients and spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc.); old gingerbread has a fainter smell of these ingredients.
- Color- Gingerbread that has gone bad will be a lighter brown than that of fresh gingerbread.
- Mold- There may be mold on your gingerbread in white, blue, brown, black, or other colored splotches.
- Type Matters- Differently-made gingerbreads may spoil in different ways: Cake-like gingerbreads will generally go moldy, and gingerbread cookies and houses will typically go dry or stale.
The main thing is to use common sense and when in doubt, throw it out.
What Happens When You Eat Bad Gingerbread?
If you eat moldy gingerbread, you might get sick, especially if you have a mold allergy (and even if you don’t). Mold spores — those white, blue, brown, or black spots that grow on or in bread and other foods — produce mycotoxins, which are chemicals that are harmful to humans. These molds are also harmful to animals — never give moldy bread to your pets. Ingesting visible mold spores can cause digestive problems, especially in the intestines. Prolonged exposure to mycotoxins may also cause cancer.
If your gingerbread or cookies are moldy (for soft gingerbreads, this can be as little as after 3 days, for cookies, a few weeks), throw them away. This should be the case even for the spots of gingerbreads or cookies that are not visibly moldy. Because mold spores are invisible and can spread quickly, you will not be able to see where the mold has taken root — even if it appears edible. For these reasons, it is advisable to throw out moldy or spoiled gingerbread.
Ultimately, whether or not you can or should consume gingerbread all comes down to common sense. By following good storage practices and making sure none of the tell-tale spoilage signs are present, you can keep gingerbread for a reasonably long amount of town and still be able to eat it.
I recommend breaking down edible gingerbread houses into sections that will fit in your airtight storage containers and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat it. Also, make sure you tell the kids to check with you before they take a bite to make sure it’s safe.
Thanks for reading and happy cookie eating!
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