This Genius Hack Will Save Your Stale Bagels

Ah, the humble bagel. For what's basically a ring of bread, bagels sure seem to generate a lot of opinions, from which bagel flavor is the best — we're siding with the Everything — to whether or not they should be boiled before baking. The one thing that's clear about bagels is how incredibly popular they are: even in a world where low-carb diets remain trendy, bagel sales figures for 2020 showed about an eight percent increase over 2019, representing $1 billion (via Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery). That's a whole lotta dough (zing!).

As with most bread products, bagels taste about a million times better when they're fresh from the bakery: just like a still-warm Krispy Kreme doughnut, a bagel baked day-of is truly at the pinnacle of its form. Bagels just don't keep very well: Whether sliced or whole, in a paper bag or plastic, a bagel purchased on Monday will likely taste stale by Wednesday (via The Bagel Club). The brief life of a bagel seems a fait accompli — which is why it's so important to know how to bring a bagel back from the dead.

A little steam makes everything right

If you've ever tried slicing through a stale, hard-as-a-rock bagel, you've probably lost your patience, if not a bit of a finger. But the tragedy of allowing a bagel to go stale can be reversed: with this hack, a little steam will bring it right back to its crusty-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside, sliceable peak.

According to Bon Appétit, flicking or spritzing a bagel with a little bit of water and then toasting or re-baking it for a few minutes will quickly convert your stale dough from paperweight to center-of-the-plate. The magazine got this hot tip from Courage Bagels in Los Angeles, whose yeasty rings The New York Times proclaimed some of the best in the country — so we trust their advice.

Now that you know how to bring a bagel back to life, it's time to learn how to keep bagels fresher, for longer, the next time you bring home a baker's dozen. The absolute best way to extend bagels' shelf life, according to Daniela Moreira, the co-owner and executive chef of Call Your Mother deli in Washington, D.C., is to slice them in half, place them in a freezer bag, squish out all the air, and freeze. As she told Epicurious, the bagels will stay good for months and will toast up perfectly. Fresh bagels all year 'round? Sign us up.