Bread hardens with time and loses its delicious freshness. But don’t throw it away quite yet! Utopia has a few tried and true ideas for making your old, stale loaves into something tasty again.
Waste Not, Want Not
The average American throws out 250 pounds of food per year, with grains making up almost one fifth of the total – the equivalent of nearly one loaf per week. This figure doesn’t account for all of the bread products past their expiration dates thrown away directly at the grocery store. All of us can do our part to reduce food waste, which ultimately reduces our carbon footprint as well.
The simplest way to reduce bread waste is to store it properly. And whether your bread is aged but still edible or has turned hard as a rock, it’s still possible to save it by using it in just the right recipes. Here a few ideas.
Reuse Old Bread: Delicious Bread Casserole with Peppers
Stale bread can easily be transformed into hearty main dishes. Internet recipe portals have innumerable bread casserole variations for you to try. Our version with bell peppers serves two and requires the following organic ingredients:
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 1/3 c old bread
- 1 T parsley
- 1 t rosemary
- 2 spring onions
- 3 eggs
- 1 c milk
- ½ c whipping cream
- salt and pepper to taste
Dice the bread and bell peppers and add to a mixing bowl with the parsley, rosemary, and chopped spring onions. Mix everything thoroughly. Grease a casserole pan and empty the bowl of bread into it, spreading it out evenly. Use the bowl to lightly whip together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt and pepper. Pour the wet ingredients over the bread mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes until a fork comes out clean.
Pro tip: no need to preheat the oven!
For a Perfect Sunday Breakfast: French Toast Casserole
French toast is a beloved breakfast dish that turns out best when bread is slightly stale and can better absorb the creamy egg mixture. But rather than spend your Sunday morning frying slices over a hot stovetop, why not prepare this French toast casserole for oven baking the night before? Just start the oven 45 minutes before you’d like to serve it and there’ll be warm, French toasty goodness waiting once everyone’s awake. For two servings, you’ll need:
- 2 slices of bread per person, cubed
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ c milk
- cinnamon and sugar to taste
Lightly whip together egg and milk in a bowl; add the sugar and cinnamon, then toss in the cubed bread chunks and mix thoroughly. Allow the bread to sit and soak up the mixture for a few minutes, stirring once or twice to remix. Grease a baking dish and add the bread mixture, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Serve with maple syrup.
Pro tip: For a vegan variation, replace cow’s milk with the vegetal milk of your choice and egg with a ripe banana.
Traditional German Dumplings Made from Leftover Buns and Baguettes
Bread dumplings are a staple of hearty German cooking. They are traditionally prepared from stale buns and baguettes. To make these masterpieces, have the following organic ingredients at hand:
- 1 c stale bread
- 1 onion
- 1 ¼ c milk
- 1 egg
- ¼ c fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- pat of butter
Cube the bread and place in a bowl; warm the milk and pour over the bread. Mix together thoroughly and allow it to rest. Finely chop the onion and parsley. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the onions. Cook until they’re glassy and remove from the heat. Stir the bowl with the bread, adding egg, salt and pepper, parsley, and the cooked onions. Using your hands, knead all the ingredients together well. Form the mixture into baseball-sized dumplings. Add the dumplings to a large pot of boiling water and cook for around 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they float on the surface.
DIY Snacks: Homemade Bread Chips
Bread chips are a tasty and healthier alternative to fatty potato chips and can be made from any bread you have at hand. And best of all: they’re easy and fast to make! Simply cut your stale bread into thin slices, place it on a baking pan, and brush each slice with olive oil. If you like, add pressed garlic, rosemary, or sea salt for flavoring. Bake at 300 degrees F for around 30 minutes.
Halfway through your bake, the bread slices should start to brown slightly. Remove from the oven, rotate, and repeat the steps with oil and seasonings.
Even More Simple Uses for Stale Bread
It’s easy to turn your old bread into new ingredients that can pep up other dishes, too.
Croutons are the perfect example – these quickly add flavor and crunch to salads and soups. Simply cut your stale bread into small cubes, then fry these together with oil and seasonings in a frying pan.
And no one should ever buy bread crumbs at the supermarket when it’s so easy to make your own from leftover bread. Simply slice your bread, then let it dry completely. Your food processor will quickly take care of the rest.
Pro tip: white breads make the best bread crumbs, as the oils in seeds, nuts, and whole grains causes these crumbs to spoil faster. Always store your bread crumbs in an airtight container. Use them to bread meat and vegetables before frying, to thicken sauces, or even to dust your baking pans to prevent sticking.
– By Lea Hermann
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