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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Homemade Breadcrumbs- Extreme Frugality Edition

Once upon a time, I bought ready made breadcrumbs. Their price wasn't so bad, so I never thought twice about making that purchase.
Then one day I learned just how simple it was to make your own homemade bread crumbs, and from then on, I never bought them again.
The method of making homemade breadcrumbs is fairly common knowledge, but my extreme frugality edition puts a new twist on the old favorite.
Extremely Frugal Homemade Breadcrumbs
Ingredients
Bread

Instructions:
1. To make your own homemade breadcrumbs, you start out with bread. To make this even more frugal, I take old bread on its last legs, that is about to go stale. Alternatively, I take homemade bread that didn't come out so perfectly- perhaps it had too little salt, too much sugar, or just was too heavy of a dough. Bread ends and crusts can also be used for this.

2. Cut the bread into insanely thin slices. Slivers might be more accurate. You want the slices of bread to be as thin as possible, to make there be as much surface area as possible on each piece of bread. When doing this, you may end up with a bunch of crumbs. That is terrific- put aside those crumbs- you have ready made breadcrumbs without even trying!


3. Traditionally, when making homemade breadcrumbs, you would toast these pieces of bread in the oven until they're all crispy, but as someone who tries to use my oven as infrequently as possible, as an electric oven is a big money waster, I do things a bit differently.
I lay all my very thin pieces of bread flat out on a large tray (or two, or three), trying to make them all flat and none overlapping. I simply leave these out until they get fully stale and hard. You may want to flip these over once every half day or full day. The thinner you cut them, the faster they will dry out. Making these in the summer in my dryer climate, it took about a day for these to get completely stale, but it may take longer in more humid or cooler places. You may want to cover the trays of bread with a very thin cheesecloth to prevent dust and bugs from settling on it.

I'm not sure why they were spread on bags- this pic is old.
4. Again, the typical way of making breadcrumbs is to take the toasted slices of bread and process them in the food processor until they're in crumbs. Being someone who tries to conserve electricity in any way possible, I'm not going to do things that way. Instead, I take my stale and rock hard bread slices, put them in a plastic bag tied shut, put that in another bag or two, give my son a meat hammer, and let him pound away.
He really had a blast pounding away with that thing, breaking up the bread into tiny little crumbs with his deft little fingers.


5. If you want a more uniformed size of breadcrumbs, after some time that you or your kids have pounded away at the bread, pour everything from the bag through a colander (with a big bowl underneath, of course), so sift out the bigger pieces that still need more pounding.


6. Once you sift out the small crumbs, put the larger chunks back into plastic bags, tie up, and resume pounding. Repeat as frequently as necessary until all the large chunks are broken into decently sized breadcrumbs.

7. Of course, if you get tired of pounding, or if your ears start ringing from the banging, you can put whatever is left into your food processor (or in my case, food processor attachment from the blender stick) and blend it up until it is the size you desire.


8. Use these breadcrumbs as you would any store bought crumbs. Use them as fillers in patties, burgers, stuffings, and stews, as a coating for different foods like fried fish or chicken, or as a crunchy topping for noodles or veggies. The possibilities are endless.

I love making homemade breadcrumbs the extreme frugal way. It's fun for me, fun for my kids, lets out some excess energy, allows my kids to constructively destroy something (and we all know how much kids like smashing things!), uses food that would otherwise get thrown out, and doesn't require any electricity output.

Do you ever make homemade breadcrumbs? How do you make them? Would you ever do it "the extreme frugal" way?

3 comments:

  1. I've occasionally been making low-on-time breadcrumbs, when I realise in the middle of cooking that I'm all out. Simply take a slice of bread, and grate using a cheese grater!

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  2. I do this all the time in the food processor.I make bread from scratch and a few times it stuck and I had to fight with it to get it out of the glass pan. It gets dried out and becomes breadcrumbs. I tried beating it with the hammer and ziplock bag but the bag split open and the crumbs were everywhere. Now I save the hassle, and let the machine do the work.

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  3. I used to do it with a hammer and ziplock bag until it split open . Now I use my homemade bread if it stuck to the glass loaf pan or there is one piece left and it is to dried out. I lay it in the oven after I cook something to dry it out more and throw it in the food processor to break it up. I do not them from the store anymore.

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