We waste a crazy amount of food and consumers are just as guilty of throwing out food in their kitchens 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 has it that homemade bread crumbs taste better too!
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.
But they’re also super easy to make. And you can make them in a large batch so you only have to prepare them every once in a while. I prepare them 2-3 times per year and keep them in our freezer until we need them.
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 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.
I collect odds and ends of leftover bread in our freezer over a few months. Once I have enough to pieces to make a large batch of breadcrumbs, I chop, bake and crumble and then put the bread crumbs in the freezer in repurposed glass jars.
They last for many months in the freezer, and I just take out whatever I need for a recipe. The bread crumbs don’t stick together in the freezer, so you don’t have to worry about thawing and refreezing the bread crumbs each time you want to use a cup or two of them.
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 45-60 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 if 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.
- 12-15 pieces of leftover stale bread (any variety works) - you may use more bread than this. Notes below indicate what might be different if you use more leftover bread.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut bread pieces into 1" cubes.
- Spread cubes onto a baking tray (lined with a silicone baking sheet or compostable parchment paper, if desired). Make sure the cubes are spread evenly and try not to overlap them (they will cook much faster). You may want or need to use multiple trays depending on how many bread scraps you have.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the bread crumbs are very dry. Check oven periodically to ensure they are not burning.
- Add bread crumbs to a food processor and pulse until all bread cubes are crumbled into small crumbs. (You may need to do this in batches depending on how many bread scraps you used and the size of your food processor.)
- Transfer crumbs to mason jars, repurposed glass jars, or another airtight container and store in the freezer until needed.