Waste not ... Bread
According to Toast ale, which makes beer out of stale bread, we waste almost 900,000 tonnes of the stuff a year, or about 24m slices every day. In terms of calories, that’s enough to pull 26m people out of hunger. Half of this is wasted from our homes.
We love fresh bread, but the life of a loaf doesn’t stop at sandwiches and toast. As bread ages, it transforms into a key ingredient in a thousand dishes, from strata, a type of savoury bread pudding, to eggy bread. Bread made without preservatives (ie, just flour, yeast, water and salt) keeps better than processed bread, and can be used at every stage of its life. Stored in plastic, it will eventually mould due to trapped moisture, so after a few days take it out of the packaging and wrap in paper or cloth, so it can begin to dry out.
When bread is a couple of days old, use it to make a tartine – an open toasted sandwich piled with your favourite toppings. As it becomes tougher, cut it into croutons for panzanella or fattoush, or into dainty crostini. And when it goes superhard, add it broken up to soups and stews to bulk them out or to thicken a sauce or dip; or make poor man’s parmesan – a flavourful and textural topping for pasta or vegetables.
Poor man’s parmesan
Break stale bread into rough pieces and pulse to a rough crumb. Tip into a hot saucepan, drizzle with a little oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with dried or fresh chopped herbs. Fry, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the crumbs begin to brown, then cool and store in a sealed jar – they’ll last ages.