NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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The Saga of Stale Bread


Stale Bread

When my kids lived at home, bread was eaten before it could get moldy or become stale. But now that my husband and I are empty nesters, we have stale bread to contend with.

Stale bread is usually firmer than fresh bread, and it may crumble more. Because of these characteristics, people might opt to toss it instead of using it in novel ways.

Throwing food away is something I try to avoid for two reasons. First of all, throwing away food is like throwing away money, so if I can use stale bread I can stretch my food dollars a little further. Secondly, bread is nutritious. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and iron. And if we are talking whole-grain bread, we have the added nutritional benefit of fiber and phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) because the germ and bran from the grain are present in it.

The problem is that if I leave the bread in its package at room temperature on the counter or in the cupboard, the loaf becomes moldy before we can eat all of it. Finding a colorful, fuzzy surprise when I open the bread bag isn’t my idea of fun. So you would think that refrigerating the loaf would be a good alternative. And you’d be right; the mold doesn’t appear as quickly if the loaf is kept in the refrigerator. However, refrigerating the bread actually speeds its staling. In fact, refrigerated bread becomes stale six times faster than bread at room temperature. Freezing bread seems to be the best option as it doesn’t become moldy, and it delays staling. When sealed in an air-tight bag, it should remain at high quality for up to three months in the freezer, so be sure to label the package with the date you froze it.

If bread becomes moldy, it needs to be thrown away. However, stale bread can be "revived" by toasting or otherwise heating it.

Here are some practical tips to save some bread:

* Make croutons or bread crumbs. Simply cut the bread in cubes or tear into small pieces, and bake at 350 degrees until it is dry and brittle. To make crumbs, use a rolling pin to crush the bread to the desired size, or hand-crush it inside a plastic bag. This is a fun activity for children. For extra flavor, add your favorite salt-free seasonings, such as garlic powder, to the bread crumbs.

* Use bread as a meat extender. Some recipes call for soft bread crumbs and others call for toasted cubes. Add the bread crumbs to ground beef to make meat loaf or meatballs. Top casseroles with toasted bread crumbs for a little crunch or in place of crackers.

* Prepare recipes for French toast, egg bake, bread pudding, stuffing/dressing, grilled cheese sandwiches, egg salad on toast, or garlic toast using day-old or “stale” bread.

Adapted from: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/columns/prairie-fare/prairie-fare-save-some-bread-with-these-tips/

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