Bread (Crumb) Labor

Click here to go straight to the recipe.

I began baking bread after my daughter MK was born in 1994. You may think I’ve been merely nourishing my children—or perhaps poisoning them depending on your bread stance—but I like to think of myself as a revolutionary in the kitchen.

The concept of bread labor played a key role in Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance. He (and Tolstoy) believed that everyone must perform physical labor in order to earn his or her living—or bread. To do otherwise amounted to stealing someone else’s labor and living off the backs of others.

I perform my bread labor literally. I bake bread (and most everything else) from scratch not only to reduce my waste but also to increase my self-sufficiency and thus abate my dependence on corporations, even if by just a small amount. Maybe it is an utterly futile exercise, as my increasingly cynical 13-year-old daughter Charlotte claims. But I won’t go down without at fight. And I’ll eat well as I go.

MK baked some rye-caraway bread recently that had passed its best-before date. I couldn’t just throw out the fruits of her labor, so I needed to do something with it. Ordinarily, I would have whipped up some French toast, but rye-caraway French toast? Maybe not. I decided to make bread crumbs. I used them to cook meatballs with homemade tomato sauce for my cynical meatball eater.

Whether you buy bread or bake it, you can use up any stale leftovers with the following (mostly Alton Brown) recipe.

bread

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces stale bread
  • 1 tbsp dry herbs if desired, such as oregano, basil, and parsley; or sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

bread cubes

2. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes.

cubes in blender

3. Place bread cubes in blender with herbs and salt. I skipped adding herbs because the bread I used had lots of caraway seeds in it.

crumbs in blender

4. Replace lid and pulse blender on low until coarse crumbs form. I did this in two batches.

crumbs on cookie sheet

5. Spread crumbs evenly onto baking trays. I had enough for two trays.

bread crumbs finished

6. Bake in oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until crumbs begin to brown.

7. When cool, transfer to air-tight glass containers and use within two weeks.

The meatballs I made were delicious. You can also use bread crumbs for:

  • Eggplant parmigiana
  • Thickening soup or stew
  • Frying in olive oil and sprinkling on salad…or anything…
  • Topping baked beans, macaroni and cheese, casseroles
  • Bean or meat patties
  • Meatballs
  • Crispy coating for fish or chicken
  • Stuffing

Please let me know if you have any ideas for bread crumbs, or stale bread.

Bread Crumbs

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces stale bread
  • 1 tbsp dry herbs if desired, such as oregano, basil, and parsley; or sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions

Yields 3 scant cups

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes.

3. Place bread cubes in blender or food processor with herbs and salt.

4. Replace lid and pulse blender on low until coarse crumbs form.

5. Spread crumbs evenly onto baking trays.

6. Bake in oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until crumbs begin to brown.

7. When cool, transfer to air-tight glass containers and use within two weeks.

23 Comment

  1. This is great! I haven’t had an excuse to make bread crumbs from homemade bread yet, but I did use homemade bread for Thanksgiving stuffing, and it was delicious!

    1. Thank you! And yum! I bet that was great stuffing. You can’t beat the taste of homemade bread. It has to be the ultimate comfort food.

  2. Breadcrumbs are just so versatile! I’ve also found that dabbing stale bread with some water, or running under faucet for a second or two, then toasting, really works well in rehydrating the bread and sometimes I can’t tell a difference between fresh bread, toasted and rehydrated bread, toasted. Mmmmm!

    1. Wow! I’ve never tried that. Thanks for the tip! I baked sourdough on Sunday and will try that in a couple of days (if we haven’t eaten it all).

  3. My grandma makes breadcrumbs with stale bread, but she’s never added any herbs or spices to it. That sounds like fun because you can experiment with different flavors… and not feel bad about throwing out perfectly good (if a little stale) bread!

    1. Lucky you get to eat your grandma’s cooking. Making bread crumbs is a great way to use up what seems like waste. And most important, they’re tasty 🙂

      1. I do consider myself lucky indeed; I can’t wait to go visit her in Florida this summer. She’s from Hungary, so she knows how to make all of my favorite Hungarian dishes 🙂 I’ll definitely have to steal some recipes from her for my blog when I go and visit!

      2. Oh yum! You are lucky. I look forward to reading your posts on Hungarian dishes 🙂 What is your favorite? My kids love their dad’s goulash, but it’s probably different from Hungarian goulash. His 96-year-old Ukrainian grandmother passed the recipe down.

      3. My favorite would have to be plum dumplings, which are basically giant breaded dumplings made out of potato and dough and stuffed with plums. Then you sprinkle brown sugar on them when eating. Delicious! Now that I think about it, I guess that’s another use for breadcrumbs!

      4. OMG. I’ve never heard of plum dumplings. That sounds amazing. I have just-picked plums AND bread crumbs right now. Please post that one. In the meantime I’ll google it.

      5. This recipe (http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/noodlesdumplings/r/hungarianplum.htm) is pretty close to how my grandma does it, if not the same. I know I already have this one written down somewhere, so I’ll look for it and try to post it soon 🙂 If you make them, let me know what you think!

      6. Thank you! My daughter says she will make them this afternoon. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  4. Very useful!!! In fact, I was just cleaning out the pantry this morning and noticed an old jar of bread crumbs and wondered if they were still good. Now I can just make my own! Thx!!!

    1. You’re welcome! Glad you found the post useful 🙂

  5. This is great! I have a half eaten rye loaf. Will try homemade breadcrumbs for the first time. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Great! I think you’ll like them. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  6. I was thinking of this when I posted my own breadcrumbs post last night. Basically I think stuffing is the way to go – you know the side dish you have with roast chicken. Adding a few extra things to stuffing turns it into a great, portable lunchtime food (especially good for picnics and baby led weaning finger food!)

    http://westwickdreaming.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/use-it-or-lose-it-recipe-breadcrumbs/

    1. I saw your post yesterday and liked it 🙂 Stuffing is a great idea. I’m adding that to my list. Thanks for the idea!

      Another blogger suggested strewing the bottom of my roasting pan with some of the vegetable scraps that I save in the freezer for making broth. So, now I’ll have chicken flavored with salvaged vegetables scraps and stuffed with delicious homemade bread crumbs!

      1. What a great idea!

  7. Here are my things to do with stale bread! I never thought of toasting the bread AFTER converting it to crumbs–I’ve always toasted it first and then pulverized it starting with whatever size pieces it’s in. Your method probably results in more evenly sized crumbs.

    1. There are so many ways to do it. Thanks for the link 🙂 It’s fun (and delicious) to find ways to use up bits of this and that.

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