Odds and Ends: Stale Bread to Bread Crumbs

Finished breadcrumbs ready to store or use.

I ran out of breadcrumbs while making yet another hand-shucked meal. I had a nice two-gallon zip-top bag of dried bread cubes in the pantry and decided to put them to good use. Up to this point I had been saving them to make into croutons, but my immediate crumb crisis changed my plans.

These bread cubes had originally been buns from the clearance cart of a Wal-Mart bakery. My family didn’t like them, so I had a couple dozen buns going totally stale. Bread cubes (and crumbs), when properly dried, keep just fine for a long time in an air-tight container or bag. The key is to dry them completely and keep them that way.

I cubed up the buns and placed them on a baking pan in single layer. Then I set the oven at a low temperature (250°F) and stirred them from time to time. It didn’t take long for the bread to dry. When I was satisfied that all the moisture was out of the cubes, I took the pans out of the oven and set them on wire racks to cool.

As soon as the cubes were cool, I loaded them into a two-gallon zip-top bag and stored it in my cool, dark, and dry pantry.

Then I forgot about them for six months.

Although some people might argue with me, I firmly believe that the best tuna fish casseroles are topped with seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. My problem was that I had totally run out of one of the key ingredients. I’ve been working as much as possible with what I have in the house lately and had been hitting the crumbs pretty hard for meat loaves and other delicacies—creating a critical crumb crisis.

This is where a stout food processor comes in handy.

Converting the cubes into crumbs was easy, I just loaded them into my handy dandy food processor and pulsed them until fine. Since I like seasoned breadcrumbs, I added about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning mix and pulsed it a few more times to combine ingredients. Working in batches, I did the same with the rest of the bag of bread cubes.

I stored my finished bread crumbs in an air-tight plastic container, and they should keep for months as long as I keep them dry. Try converting some of your stale bread into breadcrumbs rather than feeding it to the birds or the livestock, and don’t even think about throwing it away! Begonia

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