Stale bread isn’t the common occurrence it always used to be. The majority of supermarket bread is packed full of chemicals and preservatives which keep bread fresher for longer, meaning you may nit notice how old it is until it starts to grow mold. But while this helps to reduce waste by increasing the lifespan of the bread, all those preservatives are far from healthy, especially in a product that most of us eat every day.
Unfortunately, it’s always a trade-off between convenience and health, and to enjoy fresh, organic baker’s bread, you may find that cupboard-life is limited. But rather than risk throwing stale bread away, why not learn some useful tips on the uses for stale bread in the kitchen? By using stale bread as an ingredient, you can try out some new recipes whilst reducing your kitchen waste and saving money.
Breadcrumbs can be a useful ingredient in a number of dishes, and it can always pay to have some on hand. Breadcrumbs can be made most easily by tearing up bread and adding to a food processor for a few seconds. Keep a bag in the freezer and add to them whenever you have stale crusts or slices to use up. Breadcrumbs can come in useful when cooking meatloaf, meatballs, fish cakes, stuffed mushrooms and plenty of other dishes.
Stale, dry bread lends itself well to making crispy, crunchy slices of garlic bread, to eat as an accompaniment to a main dish. Simply slice up your stale bread (baguettes work well but any bread will do) and spread generously with butter, minced garlic and parsley. Pop under the grill for 5 minutes and serve as a side dish with pasta dishes, pizza, casserole or a salad.
Croutons are simple to make and can be kept fresh for weeks, but are notorious for being expensive to buy from shops and supermarkets. Save money by making your own from stale bread, which actually works much better in this recipe than using fresh bread, and gives the croutons their perfect, crunchy texture.
Cut your bread into equally sized cubes, about 1.5 cm wide. Melt 3 teaspoons of butter in a large pan and add the bread once it is hot. Ensure the bread is fully covered in the butter, and spread them across the pan over a single layer. Leave the bread to brown on one side, before turning over. Once the croutons are around 50% brown, remove them from the heat. Allow the croutons to dry in the open air to prevent steam ruining their crunchy texture. Season with salt, pepper or herbs if desired. The croutons can be used straight away or, once cool, transferred to an air tight box where they should keep for a few weeks.
Croutons are delicious in both soup and salads and are great for adding bulk to light meals, so make a batch and keep them in an air tight container for future use.
French toast, or “eggy bread” as it is sometimes known, is a protein rich and energizing breakfast dish, and a great way to breathe new life into dried out slices of bread. Dry bread actually absorbs liquids such as egg more effectively than fresh bread, making it a perfect choice for this thrifty dish.
Beat 8 eggs, half a cup of milk (dairy or soya) a teaspoon of vanilla extract and an (optional) teaspoon of cinnamon in a bowl. Heat up a frying pan with oil or butter. Dip the stale bread into the egg mix thoroughly and fry until the egg has turned golden brown. Eat plain, or with a sprinkling of sugar, honey or fruit. A savoury version can be made by adding salt and pepper to the egg mix and can be eaten with your favourite sauce, meat or cheese.
Stale bread is a great ingredient for adding carbohydrate to a salad or similar light meal, and works well by absorbing the flavours that surround it. As a result, bread salad is gaining popularity as a cheap and healthy meal. Try this recipe and enjoy a light yet hearty dish packed with flavour and without wasting a single slice.
Bread and butter pudding
Any recipe using plenty of milk, cream or other liquid ingredients is perfect for trying with stale bread, which quickly absorbs it and adds substance to the dish, so you don’t even know that it was once stale. Your leftover stale bread can be used to make a delicious bread and butter pudding, a thrifty dish that’s perfect for something warming and hearty during the colder months.
Image sourced: Ibantagsstale breadzero waste