Money Saver: bread crumbs

There are few things finer than hot, crackling-fresh loaves of new bread.

Problem is, what to do when there’s still bread left over at the end of the week, by now too stale to eat?

There’s always a seasonal bread salad or bread soup based on whatever you happen to have on hand.

And, of course, there’s always bread crumbs to freeze for later. They’re indispensable for bulking up meatballs or meatloaves, or, when toasted, for serving on top of pasta, salads, macaroni and cheese, savory casseroles…the applications are endless.

They’re so easy to make, and the taste and texture is far superior to (and cheaper than) anything you’d find in the store. You can also add whatever seasonings you’d like, or, as I do, just leave them plain.

Here’s a sad, stale third of a loaf of country bread.

It’s not totally hardened, but it’s definitely too stale to eat plain.

Simply cut your bread up into small pieces and put them in a food processor, taking care not to pack in too much. (Just a single layer of bread chunks should be enough.) I leave the crusts on because I think they add more flavor and texture, but if you like your bread crumbs super-fine and even, cut the crusts off.

As a point of reference, these chunks are too big and packed in too tightly; they should be about 1/2 to 1/4 of this size, and all fit in one layer in the bottom of the processor.

Simply pulse until the bread crumbs are all a uniform small size. This may take a little bit if your crusts are very hard, as these were. (I don’t mind if mine are a little more chunky, as they’re almost always toasted and used as a topping.)

Repeat until you’ve used all the bread chunks. Once finished, store them in airtight bags in increments of your choosing (the ones below are 1 cup) and freeze. Make sure they’re sealed really well so they don’t absorb any off flavors. I double-wrap mine in a plastic grocery bag.

To use, simply take a bag out of the freezer and thaw it. Toast the crumbs in the oven (25 minutes or so @ 200 degrees) if they’ll be used as a topping, otherwise they should be good to go once defrosted.

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