Instead of throwing out that stale baguette or partial loaf of sourdough or artisan bread, turn it into breadcrumbs. You can use fresh breadcrumbs in a variety of ways: as a binder in meatballs or meatloaf, as a coating for fried or baked meat (fish, chicken, etc.), or mixed with a little butter and used as a topping for casseroles. Plus, since they’re freshly made, they’re not loaded with preservatives like the store-bought version. Here’s how to make and store fresh breadcrumbs…
How to make fresh breadcrumbs
When a recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs, don’t be tempted to use those powdery dry breadcrumbs sold in a can. You can make fresh breadcrumbs quickly and easily in a food processor (standard or mini) or in a coffee or spice grinder with whatever bread you have on hand (it doesn’t have to be fancy; English muffins and pita bread make great breadcrumbs).
You’ll get the best results if your bread is slightly stale; very fresh bread can turn gummy in the machine. If it isn’t stale, put the slices of bread in a warm (300° to 350°F) oven until slightly crusty. Rip the slices into pieces (remove the crusts first if your bread is very dense) and fill your processor or grinder about halfway full; any more can jam up the blades. Pulse until you get the size crumb you like.
Make more than you need and store the crumbs in zip-top bags in the freezer. In a pinch, if you don’t have a machine, rub slices or chunks of stale bread on a box grater.