In the UK we waste a staggering 800,000 tonnes of bread and other baked goods a year, of which a shocking 680,000 tonnes is avoidable. So to help combat this waste I’ve put together eight handy tips on what to do with leftover bread:
What to do with leftover bread
* Ignore the best before date – I always ignore best before dates as they refer to food quality rather than safety (which use by dates refer to). If the bread looks ok, with no mould on it, and smells ok then the chances are it’s fine to eat. Do check for mould carefully though. Some bread mould can be white and it can be hard to distinguish between flour and mould, so if in doubt don’t eat it!
* Has a day-old crusty loaf gone stale or rock hard? You may think I’m crazy to suggest this, but if you briefly hold it under a cold tap, give it a shake to remove excess water, and then pop it in a hot oven for around 10 minutes then this will make it lovely and soft again. It’s true, the excellent Love Food Hate Waste told me so!
* Individual rolls, hot dog buns, croissants, bagels or any similar bread based snack can also be given similar treatment – just wrap them in a damp piece of kitchen roll and microwave them for 10 seconds to pop the freshness back.
* Don’t throw out the ends of your bread – make breadcrumbs out of them. The most energy-efficient way to make bread crumbs is to store your ends of bread in a tub or bag in the freezer until you have enough to fill your food processor with. Then tear into small peices, place in your food processor and pulse until you reach your desired coarseness. Then spread the crumbs to a 0.5cm thickness onto a baking tray and place into a low oven (150C/gas 2) for 20-30 minutes, stirring the crumbs gently halfway through cooking, until lightly golden-brown and dry. These will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container, or for 3 months in the freezer.
* Leftover bread is also fantastic in bread and butter pudding (my personal favourite is whisky and marmalade bread and butter pudding – so tasty!)
* If you have leftover cake (this never happens in my house!) then cake can also be frozen, either in slices or whole. Bon Appetit has some great advice for freezing cake.
* Bread lasts longer stored in a cool dark and dry place, such as a bread bin or cupboard. Avoid the fridge – apparently storing bread in the fridge draws moisture out of the fridge, causing it to go stale six times faster than if you’d stored it in a cupboard or bread bin.
* Finally, if you find yourself rarely finishing a standard sized loaf of bread then change your shopping habits and buy a half-loaf instead (saving you money at the same time). Alternatively, freeze half of the loaf on the day you buy it – slices can be toasted from frozen or defrosted and used as normal, with no perceptible differences in taste or texture. Bread lasts for about 6 months in the freezer, and it will save you asking the question “what to do with leftover bread?”.
Have I missed any tips on what to with leftover bread? Do share in the comments below!