Did you make a new year’s resolution to waste less food, to do more cooking from scratch, or to buy less over-packaged food? If you did, or if you have ever bought a canister of ready-to-use breadcrumbs, this article is for YOU! And if you don’t fit into any of those categories, but you do eat bread and there is any chance that you’ll ever make a recipe that uses breadcrumbs, you should read this, too!
The thing is, breadcrumbs are just bread, made into crumbs. It’s easy to do! When you buy breadcrumbs, you’re paying to have machines crumble the bread for you and pack it in a container. Crumbs are much more expensive than the number of slices of bread required to make that many crumbs. Furthermore, when you buy crumbs as a separate product, you’re buying different bread than what you already have at home (some of which likely goes to waste from time to time, when it gets stale before you can eat it or because nobody likes to eat the bread heels) and you’re buying whatever quantity comes in a package–so after using the amount you need in your recipe, you’re likely to have some left, and if you can’t think of a use for them quickly, they’re going to go to waste, too.
Here’s what was on the bottom shelf of our refrigerator one Saturday last fall when my son Nicholas (then 10 years old) decided to document in photos our process of converting unwanted bread into useful breadcrumbs. In the center is an entire baguette that my partner Daniel bought, planning to make a specific sandwich–but then he got sick for just a couple days, and a baguette gets stale very quickly! You also can see other bread bags, one with the current half-used loaf of bread but most nearly empty. We took the heels out of that half-loaf bag but left the rest of the slices for our fresh-bread uses. (Also on the shelf are tortillas, a jar of olives, and some kind of parsley or something, which you can just ignore.)
The first step is to inventory your breads and sort out what is no longer good for fresh eating but could still be used for crumbs. Discard any bread that looks or smells moldy. But bread that is damp from being in the refrigerator can still be salvaged! Read more of this post