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“The Best” Dried Crumbs and Cubes (From Fresh Bread)

By definition, store-bought bread crumbs are old and stale. So, why use them (or worse, serve them to guests)? For the best bread crumbs, regardless of their ultimate use, always purchase the freshest bread possible and, within twenty-four hours of purchase, if not eaten, make dried bread crumbs or croutons. The good news–homemade dried bread crumbs and cubes freeze perfectly when stored in doubled, well-sealed freezer bags. And there’s no need to thaw them– just scoop them straight from the freezer as you need them.

Whether making croutons, stuffing, crumbs to cover fish, boneless chicken or shrimp, or a savory topping for freshly cooked pasta or a bubbling gratin, the flavor and aroma of bread crumbs and cubes made at home is unbelievably better than the store-bought stuff.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor

For crumbs or cubes:

  • 1 large, fresh loaf Italian bread (preferably with sesame seeds on top), crust kept intact (or more, as needed)

1) To make coarse or fine bread crumbs: Preheat the oven to 375oF. Slice the bread into 1-inch slices and lay them in a single layer on a wire cooling rack set on a shallow, baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden all over. Turn off the heat and let the bread remain there until dry and very crisp, about 15 minutes. (If your oven runs hot, leave the door ajar while drying.) Remove from the oven and, when the slices are cool, crush them and drop into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process the bread until the crumbs are coarse or fine, depending on which type you want. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and use as directed in your recipe or store them in an air-tight canister for 1 week at room temperature or in the freezer, in doubled, heavy-duty freezer bags.

2) To make dried bread cubes: Preheat the oven to 375oF. Cut the bread (including the crust) into 1/2-inch slices, then stack two slices and cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips. Cut these strips into 1/2-inch cubes. Continue until you’ve cut the entire loaf this way. Place the bread cubes on a shallow (not-too-dark) baking sheet in a single layer and bake until the cubes are dry and light golden all over, about 10 minutes. (If still somewhat soft, leave the cubes in a turned off oven for 10 to 15 minutes, with the door ajar. When done, the cubes should feel dry and hard. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use bread cubes as desired or allow them to cool completely before storing them either in the freezer or in an air-tight canister for 1 week, at room temperature.

Timing is Everything:

  • Bread cubes and crumbs can be frozen for at least 2 months in doubled securely sealed plastic bags. To use, just scoop them from the freezer.

For Crispy Garlic Croutons:

  • 2 cups dried bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of oregano crumbled (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

1) To flavor the oil: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the sliced garlic. Sauté the garlic, pressing on the slices with the back of a wooden spoon to help flavor the oil. Cook the garlic, until golden and crisp, being careful not to let it burn. Using a slotted utensil, remove the garlic slices and set them aside, for now.

2) To sauté the croutons: Raise the heat under the pan to medium-high and add all the bread cubes. Sauté the cubes in the hot oil, until golden on all sides, tossing frequently give them even exposure to heat. Chop the fried garlic slices and add to the skillet. Stir to combine the bread cubes with the garlic. Cook for a minute or so, remove the fried cubes with the garlic to a bowl. Sprinkle on some fresh ground pepper and the oregano, if using. If desired, toss with the optional grated Parmesan cheese and bake the croutons on a shallow baking sheet for another 5 minutes, in a preheated 375°F oven. Whether or not you use the cheese, let the croutons cool completely, uncovered, and then pile them into a bowl or an airtight tin.

3) To store croutons: Store croutons, at room temperature covered in an airtight container.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For crumbs or cubes:

  • 1 large, fresh loaf Italian bread (preferably with sesame seeds on top), crust kept intact (or more, as needed)

TO MARKET, TO MARKET FOR CRISPY GARLIC CROUTONS

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the croutons:

  • 2 cups dried bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of oregano crumbled (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

From the produce section:

  • Garlic

From the spice section

  • Dried oregano
  • Black pepper

From the dairy case

  • Best-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

Watch the Video.

Comments (7)

7 Comments »

  1. I think your opinion about store bought bread crumbs stinks! Just because you bought rotten ones doesn’t always mean there are rotten ones for sale. Are you the bread crumbs expert! Did you get an award for bread crumbs or something?

    Comment by Tom B — November 19, 2012 @ 3:27 am

  2. I am sorry for the negative comment you were given. I found just what I was looking for..Keep up the good work! Happy Thanksgiving… ours will be all the better because of you.

    Comment by JK — November 19, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  3. I have had trouble finding good bread cubes for stuffing the past couple of years. I found this information very helpful! I will be freezing some bread cubes shortly.

    Comment by Kathy A — July 26, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

  4. Dear Lauren, thanks for the advice. I was wondering about freezing bread crumbs and you provided the answer. I appreciate the fact that you call it as you find it! Happy thanks giving!

    Comment by Charmaine — November 13, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

  5. Your Welcome!

    Comment by Lauren — November 14, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

  6. […] bread,” which assumes you’ve already got the cubes. I decided to make mine and followed this recipe for cutting the fresh bread, baking it and drying it out ahead of […]

    Pingback by Simple Touches for Adding Some Flair to Your Turkey Day | One Mother to Another — November 21, 2014 @ 4:14 am

  7. Hi Lauren,
    You have mentioned “MANGO” and I am curious is Mango is canine or feline. My question for you is, do you make your pets foods at home? I have recently started making my fur-babies food at home and am looking for more recipes. I have found and made a few that my dogs really love, but my cat, well she aint too impressed. Do you have any feline food recipes.
    If you have any suggestions, I would so appreciate them.
    Thank you,
    Rickie Ann Smith

    Comment by rickie — January 18, 2015 @ 6:15 pm

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