Can I use croutons for bread pudding?

Throwing away old bread? 16 better alternatives ...

Valuable calories become garbage just because the bread is no longer fresh? 16 tips and ideas for you to avoid and use stale bread.

In the past, the careless throwing away of bread was considered a bread crime, which was followed by a divine punishment. Today in Europe three million tons of bread thrown away every year! This could supply all of Spain! Unfortunately, Germany is at the forefront with 500,000 tons of bread waste per year, which is roughly equivalent to the annual consumption of Lower Saxony.[1].

While most bakeries now systematically recycle leftover goods (e.g. process it as breadcrumbs, donate to food, give it to feed manufacturers or sell it in specialty shops), large quantities of bread still end up in the trash in private households. It doesn't have to be ...

Avoid stale bread

1. Do not buy baked goods
Bread from the discounter is not really "freshly baked", as is often claimed, but mostly baked. A long time ago it was produced somewhere, baked, packed, frozen, stored, transported, stored again, then unpacked and briefly baked again. No wonder that such goods usually age much faster than fresh bread from the bakery. That one costs a little more, but keeps you fresh longer. The bottom line is that you save money and reduce bread waste.

2. Store bread properly
How do you keep your bread? In the plastic bag? In the refrigerator? In the plastic can? All wrong! I will explain why this is so here. Tip: Invest in a sensible bread pot (one of the brand names is “Römertopf”) made of stoneware with an open-pored lid. Bread stays tasty much longer in it and does not go moldy. You throw away less bread, avoid food waste and save money.

3. Portion fresh and freeze
Smaller households in particular find it difficult to eat a whole loaf of bread in one piece. After all, you want to take turns. A good alternative is to have the bread cut into slices in the bakery, to pack 2-3 slices in a plastic bag, to freeze them and remove them as required. So that the bread does not suffer when it is frozen, the critical temperature range between -7 degrees and +7 degrees (in which bread ages particularly quickly) must be passed as quickly as possible. Do not stack the individual parcels on top of each other when freezing, but spread them out in the freezer until they are frozen through.

4. Refresh dry bread
Old bread is still a valuable food - it just lost water! If the bread is not already rock-hard, you can partially add the water again by wrapping the bread in a damp towel for a while and then baking it for about 10-15 minutes. A moist baking atmosphere (e.g. a steamer) also helps. Alternatively, it can be placed in an airtight container with the bottom covered with water overnight. The bread itself must not be in the water, if it is placed under a baking ring or a cup. However, refreshed bread must be consumed very soon.

Recycle old bread

5. Grind into breadcrumbs
Cut the old bread into slices and place them on a kitchen rack or in a cooling oven. The faster the air gets to it, the faster the bread will dry. Then, in the food processor, grind it into breadcrumbs. If the bread does not contain any oilseeds or similar, dry breadcrumbs have a very long shelf life and are an excellent ingredient for setting, for sprinkling cake tins, for breading and (tip!) Also as a flavoring ingredient for baking bread and then add to the dough.

6. Fry meatballs
Traditionally, old rolls soaked in milk or water are used to make meatballs (also known as meat fritters or meatballs, depending on the region). This also works very well with old wheat or mixed breads. This ingredient brings binding, moisture and flavor to the meatball.

7. Make croutons
Homemade croutons are popular and their crispy consistency makes them an asset to every salad and soup. There is nothing easier than making it yourself as old bread: simply cut the old white bread or mixed bread into cubes and fry them in a pan with a little butter or oil. With a little garlic or herbs, the croutons get a special kick.

8. Prepare oven slips
Ofenschlupfer is a sweet Swabian specialty. Ofenschlupfer is mainly made from stale bread and fits in with the image of the Swabians, who are considered to be particularly economical. In Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a variant of the furnace slip is known under the designation “pyre”. In addition to old bread, apples, raisins, almonds, cream and eggs are added. You can find a recipe here, among others. Oven slips should be eaten warm, preferably with a delicious vanilla sauce. A dream!

9. Make Kirschmichel (Kerscheplotzer)
Kirchmichel is a variant of the oven loaf, also from southern Germany, only with cherries instead of apples. In the Palatinate, the Kirschmichel is called "Kerscheplotzer". As with the oven slipper, we recommend a delicious, warm vanilla sauce to round it off.

10. Toast delicious bread chips
The delicious and healthy snack! Cut the old bread (preferably white bread or mixed bread) into as thin slices as possible, spread them out on a baking sheet, brush some olive oil over them and put them in the preheated oven. The character of the bread chips can be influenced by the taste of the oil. Make sure to also try oils flavored with garlic, wild garlic or Mediterranean herbs.

11. Prepare bread pudding
Bread pudding is also known in the USA and England (bread pudding), France (pouding au pain) and variants of it in many other countries. In Egypt a related dessert is called "Om Ali", in Mexico "Capirotada". Old bread is always prepared (white bread and mixed breads are well suited) with milk, sugar and eggs to make a pudding. You can find a recipe here, among others. It is recommended to add a little vanilla and cinnamon to taste. Chopped almonds and raisins soaked in rum also go well with the recipe. Just try.

12. Make a hearty casserole
A baking dish brushed with clarified butter is filled with the same amount of diced old bread, bacon and cheese cubes. Tomato slices and plenty of béchamel sauce are served on top for gratinating, possibly also some grated parmesan or mozzarella. When baking, it is best to cover with aluminum foil so that it does not get too dark from above! You can find different recipe variants here.

13. Roast poor knights
The Romans already knew this way of using leftovers from bread! According to Wikipedia, there are many regional names for poor knights, e.g. Semmelschmarrn, Carthusian dumplings, Weckschnitte, Bavesen, Pofesen, blind fish or Fotzelschnitte. For preparation, halved white bread slices are soaked in a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla and then fried with a little clarified butter. Poor knights are served warm with a little cinnamon sugar, maple syrup or vanilla sauce.

14. Roll bread dumplings
With a little milk, eggs, onions, salt and herbs, white breads or rolls turn into excellent bread dumplings or - if you add bacon - you can also make bacon dumplings. There are recipes here. If dumplings are left over, they can be sliced ​​and fried on the second day. The garbage can is spared.

15. Prepare a meatloaf
Meatloaf is also called the “wrong rabbit” in some regions. It consists of rolls or pieces of bread that have become dry and soaked in water, as well as minced meat, eggs, onions and salt and pepper. Everything is mixed, rolled into a loaf and fried on all sides or baked in the oven. Sometimes a boiled egg comes in the middle of the meatloaf loaf. You can find a large selection of meatloaf recipes here. The soaked bread makes meatloaf always particularly juicy, tasty and fluffy - and you avoid bread in the garbage.

16. Feed the animals
You smirked, right? But the idea of ​​bread rotting in the garbage dump is unbearable. So you'd better feed the calories. To do this, you collect the bread at home in a large paper bag and occasionally bring it to someone who keeps farm animals such as fish, horses, pigs, chickens on a larger scale. There is always someone here, just ask your friends, club or work colleagues. So that the bread does not go moldy by then, it must be cut into slices and air-dried beforehand.

Additions from readers

On May 28th, 2019 I received a Email from Katarina Maiwald with the following content:

“Hello Mr. Kütscher, I discovered your site by chance and your tips on using old bread. I have been concerned with not wasting food for a long time and have struck gold. I have other suggestions - I use e.g. Black bread crumbs for meatballs etc. because they taste so much heartier. I always let older bread air dry and use it to make sourdough yourself, Sour milk bread is super delicious. Just have to stand for a few days. There is also a great one Polish soup called Zur or Zurek, which is either made with rye meal, but I also know the variant with buttermilk and soaked black bread, which tastes very good with garlic and a kind of crispy sausage. There is a saying in Polish: With Zur a guy stands like a wall. "

Many Thanks for these additions, hereby gladly passed on. I would be happy to receive further suggestions from the circle of readers here.

Source: "The Food Destroyers", page 13