The debate over what make a bagel great never ends. But if there’s one thing that bagel lovers all over can agree on, it’s that stale bagels are a big bummer.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to store bagels correctly. According to the bakers at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, fresh bagels are best stored in a paper bag at room temperature. “Paper leaves the crust and flavor intact, and while the bagels do get chewier, they’re perfectly fine within a day of buying them,” they write, adding that you can also keep the paper bag of bagels in a plastic bag. “This’ll keep the bagels for four or five days—no problem,” though you will probably have to toast them before eating.
For Longer Storage, Freeze Bagels
While keeping bagels in a paper bag is a fine storage solution if you plan on eating them within 48 hours, your best bet to ensure long-term freshness is to freeze bagels as soon as possible.
Executive chef of Black Seed Bagels Dianna Daoheung recommends a bit of prep to make toaster-ready bagels. “Slice before freezing, and pop right into the toaster after taking out of the freezer,” she explains in an email, adding, “Refrigeration does keep them slightly fresh but freezing is the way to go for optimal freshness.” That’s because the fresher the bagel that goes into the freezer, the fresher it’ll taste when you thaw it out.
What to Do With Stale Bagels
If you do have a bagel that you did accidentally let go stale on your counter, you can try to bring it back to life. “It won’t be as great as its original state,” notes Daoheung, “but if you pop it in the oven, and spritz a little water on it, it will come close.”
Zingerman’s Bakehouse recommends “reviving them in a 350ºF oven ‘til the crust comes back and they’re warm in the middle.”
A version of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com