Waste not ... Bread

The Guardian - Feast - - Feast - Tom Hunt

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.

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