There are few things in life quite as delicious as homemade bread warm and fresh from the oven! Baking your own bread is wonderful because it allows you to get preservative and chemical-free bread, any time that you want it. One of the downsides to home-baked bread is that if you don’t eat it or freeze it swiftly then it will go stale very rapidly. Where a loaf of store-bought break may stay fresh, or at least edible, for up to two weeks once opened, your homemade bread might only have a counter or fridge life of a few short days.
So just what can you do with your bread once it has turned into a solid brick? The great news is that there are several solutions, some that you may not even have yet considered!
Hit The Compost Bin
Putting stale bread into your compost bin can sometimes be controversial among those with compost bins or piles, so it is entirely at your discretion. The reason that it is thought to be a bad idea is that breads can get slimy and then attract rodents and other pests. This can be dealt with very effectively if you prevent pests from getting into your bins in the first place and also ensure that you have sufficient brown matter inside of compost pile. Sufficient amounts of brown material will help to speed up the composting process, which will eliminate any concerns with pests.
It can be helpful to run the bread through your food processor and sprinkle the crumbs into the compost drum or pile, rather than waiting for large chunks to break down on their own.
Feeding The Animals
Most of us have, at one point or another as children, gone to an area pond or lake to feed the ducks and geese stale bread from our kitchens. When you have chickens, cheese, ducks, sheep, goats, and other animals on your property, you have a much wider range of critters that will absolutely love and appreciate the bread. If you have a pond that is fully stocked with fish, you’ll find that they also enjoy a nice chunk of bread once in a while.
Add the bread to their daily meals and you’ve successfully used up an entire loaf of bread, so that nothing goes to waste.
Stale bread is another great choice to add to your dog or cat’s nightly meals, unless they are allergic to wheat. The bread offers a healthy means of adding bulk to their food, without the chemicals that commercial dog foods are laden with. If your dog is allergic to wheat, it will become very apparent within 24 hours of eating the bread. Itchy skin, scratching at his ears, and an upset stomach are all signs that your pup is sensitive to wheat products.
A bird or squirrel feeder are also other places you can leave out your stale bread. While definitely not as functional as feeding your livestock, it can offer entertainment value to watch the birds visit your feeders in hope of tasty bread treats.
Repurposing In The Kitchen
While your loaf of bread might not be entirely enjoyable to make sandwiches or even toast, there are a few other great things you can do to make your stale bread continue to be useful until the very last crumb!
Breadcrumbs are an important ingredient of many a gourmet meal. There is no point in spending a small fortune on a container of breadcrumbs from a grocery store when you can simply transform a loaf of stale bread into a stockpile of breadcrumbs that could last up to six months when stored correctly. Use them to top off your casseroles or mac and cheese, use them to coat your chicken or your fish, or even use them in lieu of graham crackers for a crumb base for your favorite cheesecake. Transforming a loaf of stale bread into breadcrumbs is incredibly easy:
- Bake the bread in the oven, on a very low heat. 150 degrees F is the perfect temperature (if your oven settings go that low—if not, just make it as low as possible).
- Put the dry and brittle bread into a food processor or a blender and turn the machine on until the result is a lot of golden-brown breadcrumbs.
- Dry the crumbs out again in the oven for another hour at 150 degrees F, or lay them out on the counter to remove any remaining moisture.
- Add your favorite herbs to create savory mixes or leave them plain.
- Store the breadcrumbs in an airtight container for up to six months.
Be creative! The breadcrumbs can be used to help hold your meatloaf together, keep your salmon loaf moist and firm, or help you create the ideal crab cakes! Breadcrumbs can also be used to help make a nice savory stuffing to go along with roasts, especially at the holidays.
Croutons are another great use for your stale bread and can also be used to help you make your famous stuffing at Thanksgiving. The method for making croutons is pretty similar to making dried breadcrumbs, with a few exceptions.
- Cut the stale bread up into crouton-sized pieces and toss with some olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices.
- Toast the pieces in the oven, spread out on a baking sheet, on a low temperature until golden brown.
- Store the croutons in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four weeks.
Your croutons will be delicious on top of your favorite soup or even in a nice fresh salad.
Stale bread has a number of other culinary uses, if you just use a bit of creativity in the kitchen. Here are some other superb ideas for using up that loaf of stale bread.
- Add a quarter cup of stale bread to each serving of your favorite bisque or soup. When blended together with the other ingredients, the bread will add a nice thickness to the soup.
- A piece of bubbling cheese toast on top of a hearty bowl of French onion soup is one way to make any dreary winter’s afternoon feel magical.
- Bread pudding is a simple and delicious comfort food that many of us avoid making out of fear that it might not turn out right. There are many variations on the basic recipe, so look for one that best suits your personal tastes. You can use plain breads or even sweetened breads like cinnamon or banana breads.
- Transform any of your breads into tasty bruschetta, to be enjoyed with some of the juicy ripe tomatoes and fresh basil from your garden.
- French toast isn’t just for breakfast! When you do cook it, it practically screams for the use of stale bread. Use your favorite toppings on your French toast, like some of the peach jam you put up this summer!
When preparing your stale bread, be sure to carefully examine it for any signs of mold on the bread; these portions can easily be cut off before proceeding with transforming it into another tasty dish.
If you have a loaf of bread that is just this side of being soft enough to eat, you can try a quick refreshing method with it so long as you plan on eating it within a short amount of time. Simply heat your oven to 300 degrees F and place the bread in a dampened paper bag. Bake the bread inside of the damp bag for up to three minutes, and the result will be bread that tastes almost as fresh as the day it was first baked. Be sure to dampen the bag well, using a water mister, otherwise you risk it burning in the oven.
©2012 Off the Grid News