What Is the Best Way to Toast a Bagel?
Bagels taste best when they are enjoyed fresh out of the oven, but that is not always possible. If you buy bagels from a store or bagel shop and do not eat them all at once, they may be stored for several days. This can cause the quality of the bagels to deteriorate. Fortunately, there are ways to restore a bagel and get the crispy and chewy texture you enjoy.
When a bagel is stored for a day or two, two processes occur. The first is dehydrating, which happens when the bagel loses water inside it to the atmosphere. You can slow the dehydrating process by storing your bagels in a plastic bag.
The other process is staling, which occurs when starch molecules become rigid. This makes the bagels tough, even if they have not lost moisture. You can reverse minor staling by heating the bagels to make the starch molecules fluid again.
It is important to store your bagels properly so they will reheat well. You can store them in a zipper-lock plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days. If you need to store the bagels longer, wrap them individually in aluminum foil and put them in the freezer for up to a month. If you store them longer than that, they can develop freezer burn. Defrost the bagels at room temperature in the foil for a few hours before you toast them.
If you have a day-old bagel that needs to be restored, you can slice and toast it. If the bagel is stale but not dry, toast the entire bagel intact. Put it in a toaster oven or an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for four to five minutes. If it has been stored in an airtight container or plastic bag for no more than three days, toasting the bagel whole will reverse the staling and give you a crispy crust and chewy interior. This method also works well for bagels that were frozen and thawed. It will not work if your bagels were stored improperly and dried out.
If the bagel is stale and dry, dip it in hot water and then toast it whole. Since bagels are prepared by boiling and then baking, this replicates the process originally used to make the bagel. The water will re-moisten the bagels and will evaporate when it is toasted. The exterior may not be quite as crisp as a bagel that is not moistened before heating, but this is a good solution if the bagel is dry and stale and you still want to be able to enjoy it.