Cheat Codes: Turn Stale Bread Into Breadcrumbs
So it’s Sunday dinner with your entire family. Your aunt and uncle bring over two loaves of the most delicious, crusty loaf of bread from the fancy-pants bakery near their house. You and your bad self devour that loaf of bread. Olive oil… butter… sauce… it doesn’t matter. It’s a goner. You say good night to your family that night and all is well.
BUT OH GOD NO, IT’S TWO WEEKS LATER AND YOU TOTALLY FORGOT THERE WAS A SECOND LOAF OF BREAD.
But relax, guys. You can totally still eat that bread… for you see, you’ve just entered the first phase of breadcrumb-making.
Breadcrumbs are a beautifully literal food concept. They’re exactly what they sound like. Crumbs of bread. And most of the time we don’t actually stop to think about that, in all of its simplicity, but we’re gonna do just that for this article since it’s actually pretty helpful for avoiding food spoilage.
Bread, as we know it, is usually soft and chewy. Breadcrumbs meanwhile are dry and crusty. Most commercially available breadcrumbs are usually made from specially baked bread that is purposely dried and baked as a hard texture, but between you and me, you can totally use stale bread to make them too. Bear in mind, when I say “stale” I don’t mean the moldy-ass, barely edible bread loaf in the back of your refrigerator. I mean the loaf or section of bread that you forgot about for a couple of weeks which looks alright but has somehow magically turned into the hardest substance on planet Earth. For starters, bust out a mallet.
Ideally, your first step is use a meat/tenderizing mallet to break the entire bread loaf (or even just a section of the loaf) up into smaller pieces, say, about 1-2″ cubes. I like to keep the bread inside of its bag since it keeps it from flying all over the place and making a mess, though you could use any bag really. (Or if you’re just a particularly carefree person who revels in your messiness, then bypass the bag altogether!)
When the bread is broken into small enough pieces, deposit them into either a food processor or a comparable blender. Food processors are your best option since the key here is to grind the bread down into, well, crumbs. The machine needs to be capable of breaking them into fine pieces, or else you’ll just end up with gargantuan chunks too large to even be called panko (a special, Japanese variety of coarse breadcrumbs).
Run the bread for a few pulses of your food processor, until all the large chunks are disintegrated. Once they’re good to go, empty into a bowl or a bag or whatever you desire. Bear in mind however, you will most likely need to do the bread chunks in batches. Don’t try to overcrowd your blender/processor since you run the risk of damaging it. Remember, bread becomes ludicrously hard when it gets stale, so don’t force your machine to do more than it’s capable of. And believe me, I’m impatient too. But fortunately each batch of bread should turn into crumbs in maybe 10-20 seconds, so it won’t take long at all. I promise.
The result is a nice batch of freshly-ground breadcrumbs. I’m not gonna lie to you and pretty this up by saying they’re tastier or better for you or anything… since they’re not. They’re pretty close to any breadcrumbs you get from the store, just slightly aesthetically different. But! That isn’t the point. This is all about recycling, and not throwing your food out. Think of how many times you’ve thrown bread away because it got hard. Tsk tsk tsk… and think of all the times you could’ve made chicken cutlets or schnitzel or katsu if you hadn’t just run out of breadcrumbs.
But hey, there’s also a way to avoid letting your bread get hard in the first place too. Try freezing it!
- If you’d like you can add a little bit of salt, garlic powder, or other seasonings to give a little bit of extra flavor to your breadcrumbs, similarly to how you see canisters of “seasoned” breadcrumbs in stores.
- Say you end up with a few odds and ends, small pieces of bread that end up stale. Not enough to make a good portion of breadcrumbs, but you still feel bad throwing it out. In this case, you can try the freeze-technique listed in our other article, however instead of freezing it to keep it fresh, you can simply freeze it to keep it indefinitely until you get other stale bread that can be turned into breadcrumbs.