Don't throw it out!
17 Ways to Use Stale Bread
by Cynthia Skelton
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I've worked as a professional baker for several years and have had constant supply of fantastic breads to sample. Unfortunately, the loaves would often go stale before we could use them up. Then there are heels and crusts cut off sandwiches. That's a lot of bread getting thrown away. I hate to waste money, and I especially hate to waste food in an age when 14% of food purchased is thrown away. So, I got creative.
When bread is just starting to get stale, it is perfect for French toast. In fact, in France, French toast is called Pain Perdu or "lost bread."
Another great dish is Eggs in a Basket. Cut a hole in the middle of a slice and butter both sides. Place in a skillet over medium heat and crack an egg in the hole. Once the bread is golden on one side and the egg set, flip and fry until the other side is golden.
Garlic toast is simple. Spread with butter, sprinkle with minced garlic and Italian seasoning, and place under a broiler until golden.
I tear bread into bite-sized chunks and place them on a cookie sheet to air dry. As long as it's not too humid, it will dry sufficiently without molding. If it is particularly humid, dry in a low oven and store in an air-tight container. These bread cubes are perfect for many great dishes:
- Homemade stuffing, made with chicken stock and vegetables, is almost as easy as the stuff from a box.
- Bread pudding is a favorite. My basic recipe is 4 cups of stale bread, 2 cups of milk, 1/4 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, and 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon. I mix these together, let soak for 30 minutes, and then bake at 375 degrees until set in the middle. I also like to experiment with different types of bread or by adding seasonings or dried fruit.
- Stata is basically a savory bread pudding. Leave out the sugar and increase the eggs to four. Add savory items like cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon or sausage, sauteed vegetables, or caramelized onions. This is a super way to use up random leftovers from the refrigerator.
- Croutons are so simple to make from scratch that you'll never believe you paid for them. Simply toss 3 cups of bread cubes with 2 to 3 Tbsp. of oil, a minced clove of garlic, and 1 Tbsp. of dried herbs. Toast in a 425 degree oven, stirring once or twice, until golden.
- Make bread crumbs in a flash by tossing some dried bread cubes in a blender or food processor and pulsing until crumbled. These can be used in a variety of ways to add good texture and stretch more expensive ingredients.
- Coat chicken, fish or vegetables with the bread crumbs before frying.
- Use to stretch meat when making meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, or salmon patties to save money while reducing fat and cholesterol.
- Top casseroles or homemade macaroni and cheese.
- Add to enchilada or stuffed pepper mix to stretch other ingredients while making a more filling dish.
- Mix with cinnamon sugar and nuts to use as the filling for stuffed apples.
- Use to thicken stews. You won't need to make a roux like you would with flour, so this helps to reduce the fat content.
- Add to quiche or frittata mixture to thicken and bulk up the dish. This reduces the fat per serving on an otherwise high-fat meal.
- Toast in a small amount of oil with seasonings and add to salads, pasta, or roasted vegetables for great flavor and texture.
- Finally, here's the weird one. Use bread crumbs to make cookies. The Tightwad Gazette published a recipe for bread crumb cookies. These are different, but yummy. Sift together 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of baking powder, and 1/3 cup of cocoa. Mix together 1/2 cup of milk, 1 egg, and 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla; combine with the dry ingredients. Add 2/3 cup of melted shortening and 2 cups of bread crumbs. Drop spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet; bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
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There you have it. You are now armed with a variety of fun new ways to use up an item that would otherwise go to waste. Enjoy!
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