Thursday, December 12, 2013

8 Ways to Save Bread

A Canadian Grocer article caught my attention.  It’s about two film makers’ experiences with dumpster diving and food waste.  What an eye-opening read.  One shocking statistic, I thought, was the amount of wasted bread.  That 13% includes waste from bakeries – not just food from households – but that amount of baked goods thrown away is still alarmingly high.

Our own kitchen was once an example of why.  When our children left home, we couldn't get through a loaf of bread before it dried out or went mouldy.  Week after week, we would waste another partial loaf.  After a few months of that, I was looking for better ways to store bread.

The solution was simple and is still in use.  We freeze fresh, sliced loaves of our favourite breads and remove slices, only as needed.  It takes some forethought as the bread requires about half an hour to thaw, but then it’s as soft and tender as it would normally be -- although, thawing should be done in a sealed container to prevent drying.  We haven’t wasted a loaf since!

Here are seven more ways to reduce bread waste (crusts work well for a few of these):

1)      Stuffing:  use day old or dry bread – absorbs flavours without loosing body.
2)      Melba Toast:  use dry bread from uncut loaves; cut into thinnest possible slices; remove crusts; bake in a 250 degree until crisp and golden and all moisture is withdrawn; store in cool, dry, place.
3)      Panade (soup thickener):  fresh or dry bread; blend into soups or stews to thicken; combines well with leek, celery, sorrel, watercress, spinach and cabbage soups.
4)      Bread sauce:  dry, finely-ground bread crumbs are substituted for flour in pan sauces; best served with wild bird or roasted meats.
5)      Bread pudding:  use dry bread or stale cake.
6)      Bread crumbs:  use dry bread – if not dry enough, bake in a 200 degree oven until crisp; grind and then store in a cool, dry place in a container not too tightly lidded (to prevent moulding.)  A rotary hand grater works well when only a small amount of crumbs are needed.  Cookie crumbs can be made similarly and are a tasty addition to some desserts. 
7)      Croutons:  dice fresh or dry bread, sprinkle with your favourite cooking oil, herbs and spices and bake in a 375 degree oven until crisp and golden.

With the holidays coming, I’ll be employing a few of these uses.  My “crust collection” from various breads will stuff the turkey, and I have plans to make Melba toast from the heel of one of the Pumpernickel loaves I’m baking.  It’s time to refill our bread crumbs, too, for topping the turkey casserole, so I might just grab a loaf from the clearance rack at our local bakery – we rarely have enough dry bread at home anymore.