Leggi questo post in: Italiano
Don’t you just hate it when your bread gets stale long before you’ve had time to finish the loaf? Luckily there are ways to use stale bread, such as making meatballs or meatloaf, or the classic Tuscan bread salad panzanella. Only thing is, I don’t eat meat and I tend to be a little too lazy to prepare panzanella, so we always end up with piles of old bread. But luckily, there’s a way to use stale bread that can be stored for a pretty long time: bread crumbs!
Until a few years ago, I, like a lot of people, had never really considered how bread crumbs are made. All I knew is that you buy them in little bags in the supermarket. But every once in a while I’d hear about something nasty that someone would find in industrial bread crumbs or some strange ingredient added to them. Really, though, what are bread crumbs if not… crumbs… of bread? I discovered that you can grind up stale bread in a blender to make the stuff. In my experience, this method tends to make very fine, powdery bread crumbs and is a bit rough on blenders, too. Then my father-in-law revealed how he made his amazing chunkier bread crumbs: with an old-fashioned iron meat grinder!
Want to find out how to make homemade bread crumbs? Then read on!
What I generally do is keep a baking tray in my oven to put all my old bits of bread, rolls from school lunches forgotten in backpacks, crusts removed from kids’ sandwiches, crackers and even rice cakes. I take it out of the oven when I need to bake something and then put it back in after removing whatever I’d cooked and turned off the heat so that the bread can finish drying out completely with the residual heat. I tend to collect these old bits and pieces over a few months before making bread crumbs out of them. (By the way, you can tell by the old watermarks on most of the photos here that this post has been a long time in the making. And boy, has my blog photography gotten better over the past couple of years! The picture above is just awful!)
Don’t think, just because your bread is stale, that it’s ready to be ground up. If there’s a bit of moisture or softness inside the chunks, they will not grind up properly. This is why I always put it in and out of the oven, so that I’m sure it’s totally dried out without having to turn on the oven especially for the bread, which would be a waste of energy and also creates the risk of burning the bread. (Just ask me how I know that…)
Set up your meat grinder on the edge of a table or counter. I put a couple of thin pieces of wood between the table and the grinder clamp, both on top and below the table, so help keep the grinder more in place and to avoid ruining the table. Look at the grinder. You put the pieces of bread in the top. I like to put smaller pieces in, then press on top of them with a larger chunk so that they get pushed down without my fingers having to get anywhere near the grinding mechanism. You turn the handle around to move the grinding spiral thing inside. If it feels a little blocked, turn the handle the wrong way a little, then go back to the regular direction.
The ground bread comes out the front of the grinder. See that twisty thing right in the front? This screw tightens or loosens it, thereby making smaller or bigger bread crumbs. Adjust it as you go to get the type of bread crumbs that you prefer.
If you put a container under the front of the grinder to let the bread crumbs fall into, like ground meat does, you’re going to get a big mess because a lot of the bits come flying out in all directions.
This solution, again thought of by my father-in-law, keeps messes to a minimum.
Slip a doubled- or tripled-up rubber band around the end of a food-grade plastic bag. Then slip the whole thing over the front of the grinder.
Now get grinding! Be gentle when pushing down on the hard bread, because it can actually scrape up your hand. When you’ve finished grinding, pour the bread crumbs into a big jar. (I don’t like storing food in plastic because of all the nasty chemicals that can leach out.)
And now you’ve got yourself lots of chunky (or non-chunky, if you so prefer) bread crumbs, without any strange ingredients included and at no cost! Now you have no excuse to throw away old bread again!
Looking for more time- and money- saving recipes and kitchen tricks? Take a look at my “In the kitchen” tutorials!
Question of the day: How do you use stale bread and/or bread crumbs?
I don’t really use stale bread that much, now that I don’t eat meat anymore and therefore no longer make meatballs or meatloaf. We use breadcrumbs mostly as a topping on meals baked in the oven, mixed in certain pasta dishes and for making chicken cutlets for the kids. But I’d love to hear how you all use them because we always have way more bread crumbs than we need!