Don’t bin those leftover crusts and stale bread – use them for cooking, storing or freezing instead. Here’s our guide to making the most of those crusty leftover scraps that nobody wanted to eat…
Storing Leftover BreadIf you’ve ever left a loaf in the cupboard for a week – and forgotten about it – you’ll know that bread doesn’t store well! That green mould is edible but not tasty… Vigilance is required here. If nobody in the family will eat the crusts, think ahead and remove them immediately, popping them into a sealable sandwich bag and into the freezer (more about how to use them later).
If you’re notoriously forgetful and there’s almost always a greenish loaf lurking in the kitchen, set up a bird-table in the garden! Then you can put out your breadcrumbs once a week and you’ll enjoy the sight of happy birds – the absence of whom will remind you to put out the next bits.
If you want to eat the remains of an unsliced loaf the next day – a baguette or country loaf – then sprinkle it with a little water, and reheat it in a medium oven. It will emerge crunchy on the outside and soft, warm and fluffy on the inside!
Freezing Home Baked BreadBread crusts – and half-loaves – freeze very well. Slice them before putting into sealable bags, labelling (or you’ll forget what it was, we guarantee it!) and freezing.
If you have a breadmaker then you’ll know that home-baked bread just doesn’t keep as well as the packaged stuff. That’s because your home-baked bread doesn’t contain all the preservatives and additives of a manufactured loaf. Adding milk to the dough (in place of some of the water), and keeping bread in airtight containers at room temperature, will help to improve keeping qualities.
But the best thing to do is to let your baked loaf cool, and slice half of it immediately. When it’s cool, bag it up in two-slice portions, label and freeze. These will be perfect for toast.
Making & Using CroutonsCroutons are great for soup: many children (and adults!) love them. And they’re so easy to make: thickly slice your loaf (stale is OK, but not green!) then turn crossways and cut into large cubes. In a bowl or on an oven tray, toss the cubes in a little olive oil with your hands, adding salt, rosemary or thyme if liked. Bake in a low oven until golden and crunchy, before storing in an airtight container. The croutons are lovely sprinkled over soup or a Caesar salad.
Making & Using BreadcrumbsBreadcrumbs are indispensable for the home cook, because they can be used in so many ways: blitzed with mince to make croquettes, mashed with beans for burgers, or used as a coating for meat or fish. You can blitz stale bread to make ‘fresh’ breadcrumbs, or toast it before blitzing to create more crunchy ones (ideal for coating chicken or white fish).
Bag them and label before freezing – you’ll soon find more and more ways to use your crumbs in cooking, like dry-frying and sprinkling over a bowl of spaghetti or covering a vegetable gratin before baking.