Has your beautiful bread gone stale? Or become dry? Recycle it!
There are many ways to use the healthy, wholesome pieces of bread that sit too long in the fridge or are left outside the bag too long. Here are a few ideas.
Bread Crumbs, Croutons, and More
I always need bread crumbs for something: filler for meatloaf, foundation for stuffing, croutons, etc.
Bread doesn’t have to be dried in order to work as a filler or stuffing, but it can be very convenient to have some fine bread crumbs stashed so they’re ready in a hurry when you need them.
You may not have a lot of bread left over very often, in which case you can bake some bread just for use as crumbs or stuffing. You can also recycle a loaf that didn’t rise very well or was otherwise unsatisfactory.
If you want to make croutons, cut your bread into crouton-size pieces before drying it.
You can also tear the bread into small pieces prior to drying it. This makes processing the dried product a little easier.
To thoroughly dry the bread before grinding it into crumbs (I use a food processor for this), use these simple steps:
- Slice the bread, the thinner the better. It will dry more quickly.
- Lay it out in a pan or across a plate. You can cover it with a towel to keep flies, etc. off. It will just take a bit longer to dry.
- Turn the slices at least once per day. It can take a couple of days to completely dry it.
- You can speed up the drying process by warming your oven a bit and setting your pan/plate in the oven. Don’t forget to turn the bread over.
Once the bread is dry, you’ll want to process it to create bread crumbs. I use a food processor. However, you could also use a simple grater or process it in a blender. For any of these methods, break the dried bread into pieces
Once the bread has been processed, store it in an airtight container as you don’t want it to attract any moisture. If it does get wet at all, it will quickly mold.
If you don’t want to store the dried bread crumbs at room temperature, freeze it. If you place it in the refrigerator, there’s a good chance it will collect moisture and spoil before you can use it.
I recommend labeling and dating your dried crumbs once they’re in a container. This ensures that you know exactly what you’re using once the time comes.
If you’re creating stuffing or croutons, you can add your seasonings right away. I highly recommend storing croutons or stuffing mix in your freezer to avoid any spoilage issues.
By seasoning croutons or stuffing right away, you give the flavor time to permeate the dried bread and enhance the quality of your end product.
There are many other ways to make use of or recycle stale bread, including bread pudding, as toppings for casseroles and for feeding birds and chickens.
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on her blog site at www.bakeyourbestever.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterest, and Facebook.