We waste a crazy amount of food and consumers are just as guilty of throwing out food in their kitchen as commercial entities trashing food along the production cycle. If you have stale bread lying around, consider turning it into homemade bread crumbs to keep the bread out of the trash and save yourself a few bucks not buying the store-bought variety. Rumor is homemade bread crumbs taste better too!
This is part of a series, Simply Relish, about limiting waste and making the most of what we have in our kitchens to create simple and tasty recipes while reducing our impact on the planet.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a little pixie dust to turn us into fairies? I could use a set of wings to fly away every once in a while, and I bet any honest parent would concur.
I’m not bringing you pixie dust today. If I ever find a recipe, you better believe I’ll be posting it! I am, however, sharing instructions for homemade bread crumbs. I hesitate to even call it a recipe because it’s only one ingredient: stale bread.
If you have municipal compost, you might be able to compost your stale bread. With my backyard compost, old bread ends up in our trash can if rendered no good for eating. We eat most bread including the ends. We never told our kids it was “second-rate” so they eat it toasted without a second thought.
After a family gathering recently, we took home a large loaf of bread that I knew we would never finish before it went bad. I put it in the freezer specifically for my first attempt at homemade bread crumbs. I couldn’t bear to throw out so much food for no good reason.
I’d never made homemade bread crumbs before. Admittedly, they’re a good bit more work than buying them from the store. To consistently have homemade bread crumbs available requires planning (saving old bread) and occasional preparation. I use bread crumbs quite often for eggplant Parmesan, meatballs, and other recipes, so it makes sense for me to have a bunch on hand and prepare a large batch. As I mentioned though, we don’t throw out or let go stale much bread, so we don’t generally have a large collection of bread to turn into breadcrumbs.
But in this case we did, so I did.
If you want to make your own breadcrumbs, start by collecting miscellaneous pieces of bread that have gone bad or you don’t eat (like the ends, or heels, of bread loaves). If it gets a bit of mold, just take that part off and put the rest in your fridge until you’re ready to pulse the bread into crumbs.
If your bread is already stale, you’re good to go. If not, let it get stale in the fridge for a week or so. The fridge will dry it out without it getting covered in mold while overstaying it’s welcome in your cabinet.
I didn’t have a week to wait for the bread to get stale. I wanted to use the breadcrumbs in eggplant parm and homemade meatballs that afternoon.
To expedite the process of “getting stale”, I cut up the loaf of bread into cubes (about 1″ squares), spread them out on a baking sheet, and baked at 300° F for 30-40 minutes. Some recipes I found called for just 10-15 minutes in the oven. I think the length of time to bake heavily depends on how moist the bread is, so bake times could really vary. Ultimately, you want to be sure the bread is very dry or it will get mushy and won’t process into small enough pieces when you crumble it in the food processor.
I learned the hard way… and ended up putting the bread crumbs back into the oven for about 15 minutes, still at 300°F, and then breaking them down again in the food processor because they weren’t dry enough the first time. But…no harm, no foul. Lesson learned and the bread crumbs turned out just fine.
The bread crumbs should last at least a month in the fridge in an airtight container. Even the bread is already stale, you want the bread crumbs to be much drier, so you’ve got plenty of life left in the bread as bread crumbs even though it doesn’t taste so great as bread.
Following a special request from a friend, I’ve added the recipe for the eggplant Parmesan and meatballs below. Maybe someday I will make separate posts for each of the recipes, but for now, you can find them below. You’re very welcome (you know who you are 🙂 ). I’m more than happy to share these recipes for you!
As an aside, I use Wine Glass Writer pens to mark mason jars with contents and dates. The pens write on glass and wash right off, so they are much better for me that Sharpies or tape.
Have you ever made homemade bread crumbs? I don’t expect to make this a regular routine, but I will definitely be coming back to this when we have a bunch of extra bread that could use a second chance at life.
Until then, I’ll continue to wish for pixie dust to bring an extra touch of magic to my world.
Easy Homemade Bread Crumbs
Don’t waste stale bread. Put it to good use and make homemade bread crumbs.
- Stale Bread
Preheat over to 300° F
Cut up the loaf of bread into cubes (about 1″ squares) and spread them out on a baking sheet.
Bake at 300° F for 30-40 minutes. Some recipes I found called for just 10-15 minutes in the oven. I think the length of time to bake heavily depends on how moist the bread is, so bake times could really vary. Ultimately, you want to be sure the bread is very dry or it will get mushy and won’t process into small enough pieces when you crumble it in the food processor.
Once dry, remove the bread cubes from the pan and allow to cool slightly.
Place cubes in a food processor and mix on high until bread crumbs are desired size. I wanted my bread crumbs to be pretty small, so I processed the cubes for about 45 – 60 seconds.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
- 2 medium eggplants peeled and sliced horizontally into medalliions
- 2 eggs scrambled, not cooked
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 cup olive oil used throughout frying process
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 36 oz arrabiata sauce about 1.5 — 24 oz jars
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- 1.5 tsp dried parsley
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Peel and slice eggplant into 1/4′ – 1/2″ slices. Do your best to make slices consistent in width so they cook evenly in the oven. Don’t make them too thick or they won’t fry (and soften up) well throughout the slice.
Scramble two eggs in a small bowl. Pour breadcrumbs into another small bowl. Set these next to the stove . They will be the eggwash and breading station for the eggplant just prior to putting the eggplant slices on the stove for frying.
Heat about 3 tbsp olive oil on medium heat in a skillet.
Coat the first eggplant slice in egg and then cover in breadcrumbs. Place in olive oil on the skillet / pan. Continue with each slice until the pan is full.
When first side of eggplant is golden brown, flip and cook the second side. Continue with each slice. Each slice typically cooks for 2-3 minutes on each side. Add olive oil to the pan as needed. Eggplant slices absorb the oil to soften, so you’ll need to occasionally add more olive oil as you cook.
Once cooked, remove eggplant slices from pan and place on a paper towel (on a plate) until all slices are cooked.
In a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, add a layer of sauce to the bottom of the dish. Then add a layer of eggplant slices, a layer of shredded cheese, and about a 1/2 tsp of each of the seasonings.
Continue layering step above until all eggplant is used up (generally about three layers). Add a layer of sauce and another layer of cheese on top.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until everything is hot and sauce is bubbling.
We often make this recipe and freeze it or split the ingredients into two smaller pans and freeze one for later.
This is a great recipe to use up extra ingredients in your fridge. Measurements for many of the ingredients can vary depending on what you have available and personal preference. I suggest using the given measurements as a starting point, but you can modify the recipe for your own tastes as desired.
Some modifications examples:
- Swap marinara sauce for the arrabiata sauce if you prefer something less spicy.
- Amounts of dried seasonings are to taste (I don’t measure when I make it, so I’m sure it ends up different every time, but I measured to put this recipe in writing for the blog.)
- We occasionally use Mexican shredded cheese instead of mozzarella. You could use any cheese that shreds well.
- Add ground beef, ground sausage, and/or sauteed spinach to each layers.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
Roll mixture into balls, about 1″ – 1.5″ in diameter.
Bake for 5 minutes on a baking sheet (on top of aluminum foil or a silicone mat to prevent meatballs from sticking).
Flip meatballs and bake for another 5 minutes. They will not be cooked through.
Place in slow cooker with 36 – 48 oz of pasta choice (we use arrabiata sauce, but marinara or any pasta sauce will work).
Cook on low for 6 – 7 hours.
We often make a triple batch of these meatballs sand put 1/2 of them in the freezer.
We make the following meals with these, but possibilities are endless:
- pasta with meatballs
- meatballs with vegetables
- meatball sandwiches
- homemade pizza with meatball topping