There might not be anything particularly sexy about a bit of stale bread, but some of the best recipes in the world are based around this store-cupboard hero.
Blitz into breadcrumbs to use in puddings, meatloaf or stuffing, flavour with garlic and herbs to sprinkle over pasta or risotto, or use it to coat chicken or fish. You could also tear it into chunks and bake for rustic croutons to top soup and salads, or use it to make a beautiful panzanella salad.
So, give the ends of your loaves a new lease of life with our favourite ways to make the most of stale bread.
Blitz bread in a food processor, do some batches really finely and some coarsely. If the bread’s fresh, put the crumbs into a reusable freezer bag and store in the freezer. If the bread’s stale, lay out the breadcrumbs on a tray and let them fully dry, then pack them into an airtight container. Find out how to do this in 4 easy steps here.
If you’ve ever wondered how some Italian bread has such a beautiful, crunchy base, this could be one of the oldest secrets in the bread-baking book. Instead of using flour, use fine stale breadcrumbs to dust the bottom of the tray before adding your dough. It stops it sticking and also gives you double the crunch.
You can make croutons three different ways. Dice bread into two sizes – 1cm for small and 3cm for large – or make rustic croutons by simply tearing it up into thumb-sized pieces. These are all great for sprinkling over delicious salads and soups. If you want to infuse these croutons with some serious flavour, simply toss them with some smashed-up woody herbs, garlic, spice or chilli before you toast them.
Finely slice some bread, lay it out on a tray and either leave it to go completely stale or, if you want to develop a little more flavour, pop it in the oven to achieve a little colour and let it dry out. Either way, store your toasts in an airtight jar or container until you need them. These will be really nice with cheese, pickles, houmous, or guacamole.
Tip: When you’ve finished using your oven to make dinner and it’s cooling down, whack a tray of bread in there to dry out overnight – croutons, breadcrumbs, toast, whatever you fancy.
Recipes using leftover bread:
Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2013 Save with Jamie) Photographer: David Loftus