Use your loaf - top tips for reducing bread waste
Here at Too Good To Go, our team are committed to reducing waste wherever we can. Maggie, our Office Manager extraordinaire here in the UK (and possibly the most organised person alive) is particularly ace at ensuring bread doesn’t get wasted, so we asked her to share her top tips and recipes.
But first - it’s Sourdough September and the amazing crew at Real Patisserie are giving away a sourdough starter with every Too Good To Go rescue from their stores. If you live in Brighton and love bread - it’s a match made in Sourdough heaven.
Now, back to Maggie’s tips...
Bread tops the list of most commonly wasted foods in the UK. We throw away almost 900,000 tonnes of bread every year - that’s a staggering 24 million slices every day! The easiest way to stop wasting bread? Buy only what you need.
Sometimes though, that's easier said than done! We know all too well how easy it is to get serious bread cravings (um hello GBBO bread week tonight!) and buy ALL the bread. For those times, here are some top tips and recipes to reduce bread waste.
1: Make it last: long live the bread!
No matter what kind of bread you love the most, never keep it in the fridge. Contrary to popular belief, it won’t make it fresh for longer. The low temperature will extract moisture and actually accelerate staleness. Instead, you should follow the below guide:
- Shop-bought, sliced bread: Keep in the original packaging, at room temperature. If you still have a few slices left after 2-3 days, simply pop them in the freezer and heat them up later for that freshly baked taste.
- Bakery loaves: With no preservatives, bakery loaves have a shorter life, they will go stale and dry out much faster. Turns out bakeries use those brown paper bags for a reason... they actually absorb excess moisture and prevent the crust from going rubbery, so your bread should be good for a few days.
2: Perk up slightly stale bread
To perk up a slightly stale slice of bread, sprinkle it with water and heat it in the oven for 10 minutes or so.
3: Turn it into croutons
Make croutons to use in your salads and soups. Just brush both sides of your bread slices with butter or olive oil, cut into small squares, arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 175 C for 15 minutes. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.
4: Make breadcrumbs
This is particularly useful for leftover crusts and ends of bread, but any stale bread will work. Toast the pieces in the oven until firm, then simply blitz in a food processor. Use your breadcrumbs to make homemade favourites such as chicken parmigiana, mac and cheese, scotch eggs or breaded fish.
5: Breakfast is (b)ready: make French toast
There’s a bunch of recipes out there, and most of them are surprisingly easy, so even if you’re not exactly Masterchef material, you can whip up a mouth-watering meal.
The easiest way to use up bread that’s past its prime is French toast. All you need to do is soak the bread in a mixture of beaten egg and milk or cream until it’s soft and soggy, then fry in butter until browned. Add Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper for a delicious savoury version. Or, if you have a sweet tooth, step up your French toast game by spreading Nutella on one side of your slice, then covering it with another before soaking in the eggy mixture and frying for a naughty weekend breakfast.
6: Make a perfect panzanella
The classic Tuscan salad, panzanella, comes in many different variations, but the one thing that’s always there is bread. And, believe it or not, stale bread works better than fresh! If you have a few slices of sourdough or ciabatta past its prime, make this delicious salad to bring back memories of sunny summer days.
(Serves 4. Veggie & vegan friendly)
- A handful of fresh basil
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 tbsp capers, rinsed
- 300g stale sourdough bread or ciabatta, torn into chunks
- 500g ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced
- 60g pitted olives (Kalamata work best, but black olives will do just fine), sliced
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to season
Blend most of the basil in a food processor with the capers and olive oil. Transfer half of the herby oil to a bowl, add the bread and mix well, then set aside so that the bread chunks can absorb the moisture.
Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and squeeze them lightly so that they release some juices. Mix with the olives, onion slices and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the bread, the herby oil and the vinegar, and mix well. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves, drizzle with some more olive oil and serve straight away.
7: The proof is in the (bread and butter) pudding
Bread and butter pudding is a British classic, and this recipe gives it a decadent twist. The bread is soaked in a creamy chocolate custard and finished with - yes, you’ve guessed right - more chocolate. This is comfort food at its best.
Chocolate bread & butter pudding
- 40g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the tin
- 8 slices of 2-day old sliced white bread
- 50g raisins and dried cranberries (or, if you’re not a fan, a handful of chocolate chips)
- 400ml whole milk
- 50ml double cream
- 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa works best), roughly chopped, plus 20g extra to drizzle
- 75g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
Grease a medium-sized ovenproof dish with a bit of butter.
Cut the crusts off the bread* and lightly butter each slice, then cut into triangles. Arrange half the slices, buttered side up, in the tin, sprinkle with half of the berries or choc chips, then top with the remaining bread and fruit (or chocolate chips).
Place the milk, cream, sugar and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the eggs in a large jug or bowl, then slowly add the milky chocolate mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure it’s all covered, and set aside for 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 C (or 160 C fan). Place the dish in the oven for about 30 minutes - it should be puffed and set on top.
Make the drizzle: place the extra chocolate in a small bowl and add 1 ½ tbsp boiling water. Whisk until smooth, then drizzle over the pudding before serving.
*But don’t throw them away - instead, make breadcrumbs (see tip 4 above!)
This post was written by Maggie Sychta