Breadcrumbs are a really useful ingredient for lots of recipes: a coating for breaded fish fillet, for homemade chicken nuggets, as a filler in Italian frittatas and meat-loafs, or a topping on savoury pies. There is no need to buy packets of breadcrumbs especially for these recipes. With a bit of luck you already have the materials to make your own instant breadcrumbs sitting in your freezer.
Bread From The Freezer
Often the recipe only calls for a small amount of breadcrumbs. In this case, see if you have any white bread rolls in the freezer. One frozen roll, blitzed in the food processor provides enough fine breadcrumbs for most recipes. Or if you have no rolls how about a sliced loaf? A few slices taken from the end of that will provide a generous amount of crumbs.
Frozen v. Fresh bread
There is a great advantage of processing frozen rolls and bread slices straight from the freezer rather than fresh. Fresh bread tends to clump and gives you lumpier crumbs. Frozen bread is easier to blitz into even, fine crumbs. By the time the bread is processed it has more or less defrosted and can be used straight away when the recipe demands fresh crumbs.
If you need toasted crumbs spread the processed out on a baking tray and pop them in the oven for ten minutes or so. Turn them once in that time and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Otherwise toss them in a dry frying pan over a high heat for a minute or two, to dry out and colour.
Any leftover crumbs can be re-frozen straight away in an air tight container or bag to be used next time. It often makes sense to process more bread than you need, so that you can freeze some ready-made crumbs to save time next time you need them.
Freeze Ends of Loaves
This is also a great solution for leftover crusts and ends of loaves, or that one lonely roll left after lunch. If you pop them into the freezer, at the stage when they are slightly dry (but obviously before they get mouldy!), you can keep them frozen until you next need breadcrumbs.
Ever wondered how to make your own breadcrumbs if you have no food processor? In the old days cooks used a grater to make their breadcrumbs. Some people still prefer this method, as they don’t have to then wash up the food processor. It works best if the bread is dried or frozen as fresh bread tends to crumble.
Kit Heathcock is a freelance writer based in South Africa and has worked and travelled in Italy for many years. Read more of her recipes, cooking tips and articles on her site Food and Family. She also loves flower photography and is co-creator of A Flower Gallery home of original flower pictures. http://www.aflowergallery.com