Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dealing With Bread


Croutons & Bread Crumbs 

I’m always looking for ways of cutting corners and finding the most versatile and efficient way possible of doing anything. Is that because I’m intrinsically lazy?   

One of the problems with seasoned breadcrumbs and croutons is that they often have oil in them to make the herbs adhere.  These home made croutons are unseasoned. Besides the longer shelf life, they can be seasoned just as you like for whatever you are making, be it Italian, French, or good ol’ home-cookin.


 

Recently, I decided to take two loaves of free bread and dehydrate them for croutons and bread crumbs.  This is an excellent way to use old bread before it begins to mold.  One of the advantages of making your own is that you don’t need to open a whole box of commercially prepared bread crumbs when you only need a cup or two.  

Linda’s Note: Store your croutons in one one-cup portions so you don’t have any leftovers or waste.

I wanted nice, clean croutons, so the first thing I cut the crusts off and set them aside.
 
Slice & Dice

It was a simple matter to slice the remaining bread into ½ in cubes.  I got quite a bit of bread cubes from these two loaves. 
Catch the Crumbs

Be sure to put a fruit leather tray on your bottom rack to catch the crumbs. There will be crumbs.

Dehydrated

Dehydrate at 115ยบ for about a half a day to a day, depending on the ambient humidity where you live. 

I needed to experiment a bit with seasonings, so these are waiting until I have something ready.  See my next post Croutons Anyone? For a recipe and suggestions on how to season the crumbs.  It will drop in three days. 

Linda’s Note: I’m not sure how long these will keep. I read one article that said home made croutons and bread crumbs should store for at least one year.  But then, that was in a freezer. Not so sure about that, as after a couple of months, freezer burn will set in on bread products.

Crusts for Crumbs

I dehydrated the crusts separately, as these were earmarked for bread crumbs. 
 
Whole Bread Slices

I had set the heels aside and forgot about them. But I decided to give them a try, just as they are.  If you are planning on just breadcrumbs, whole slices of bread dehydrate just fine. 

Croutons Dried and Ready to Bag 

Bread does not shrink when it dries. The volume will be about the same.  I took my plain croutons and bagged them in one-cup portions.  Figured this was just about right for two people for one meal.

What to do with Croutons:
  • Drizzle with melted butter and top mac-and-cheese casserole
  • Top your favorite casseroles with them.
  • Use in your favorite bread pudding recipe
  • Use in your favorite stuffing recipe
  • Use as a topping on your favorite cream of soup.
  • Of course, use as an accent on your favorite salads

Dried and Ready for Crumbs 

I took the crusts and ends and simply buzzed them in my food processor to make crumbs.
 
Bread Crumbs

These turned out fine and just right.

Linda’s Note:  This is one of the few places where I will recommend storing your dehydrated food in a jar.  Keep them in several quart jars if necessary. Pour your bread crumbs into a bowl for breading or whatever, then return the unused portions to the jar.  You will find all sorts of uses for your breadcrumbs and will be opening that container often. It is not cost effective to vacuum pack them, unless you absolutely have gallons of them at a time.  They will also keep just fine in a zip freezer bag.

What to do with Dehydrated Breadcrumbs:
  • Season them with olive oil, parsley, thyme, and garlic and use them to stuff artichokes.
  • Season with your favorite herbs and sprinkle over green beans
  • My Sicilian hubby always mixed breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic salt, and Basil. Dredge chicken cutlets in beaten egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture before frying. He also did the same with fresh asparagus which was gently browned in a little olive oil. Excellent!
  • Use in meat loaf instead of cracker crumbs.
  • Really great with breaded pork chops. Season with garlic powder and sage…
  • Use them as they are or mixed with flour for breading foods you intend to fry.

 

 

 

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