Ends, crusts, heels, or, if you’re a 6-year-old-boy, butts(!) – whatever you want to call them, they’re delicious. We’re talking bread, people! Sadly, the bread ends and crusts are one of the world’s leading sources of food waste. But why?! There are so many yummy uses for them. Here are just a few of my favourites.
Who doesn’t love bread crumbs?! Oh, just the thought of breaded courgettes makes my mouth water. Well, now you can make your own! All you have to do is to let the heels of the bread dry out – if it’s already a bit stale, even better.
For a quick fix you can toast them or bake them on low in the oven. Once dried, pop them in your food processor and blend until you get the desired consistency. Personally, I like to add oregano, garlic powder, salt & pepper for seasoning. Yum!
My husband’s grandmother made the best bread pudding. No seriously, people have been known to steal it, lock themselves in the bathroom and sit in a dry tub (fully clothed) while devouring an entire pan in one sitting. Thankfully, she left me her recipe and I’m willing to share.
Tear apart 6 bread ends into small pieces and place in a bowl. Mix in 500ml of warm milk, 2 whisked eggs, 115g of softened butter, 100g of sugar, ¼ tsp of salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of vanilla.
Continue adding torn bread ends until all of the liquid is soaked up. Pour this mixture into a 9”x9” baking dish and bake at 180° until brown – this should take about 30 minutes, depending on your oven.
Although the original is delicious, every now and then we’ll use a ‘fun’ bread like cranberry and walnut or we’ll throw in some extras like dark chocolate chunks and fresh cherries. Why not experiment and find your favourites?
There is nothing quite like dipping crostini in 100% pure extra virgin olive oil. But the fun doesn’t stop there – there are so many amazing oils (& vinegars) on the market.
All you have to do is brown the crusts (we love using our toaster oven so that we don’t have to heat up the whole kitchen) or even throwing it on a BBQ on a hot summer night.
Place your favourite oils and vinegars into small dipping dishes, adding herbs and spices if you fancy. If you want to go all out, grab some olive tapenade! Serve with a nice dry red and you’re pretty much in foodie heaven.
A long, long time ago (post-college, pre-kids) my husband worked nights and weekends at one of our friend’s restaurants. The food was amazing and they did everything they could to reduce waste. My personal favourite; they turned unused dinner rolls into croutons.
To this day, this continues to be one of our family’s preferred things to do with the ends of bread. All you have to do is cube the heel, toss in two tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper. Then bake at 130° for 45 minutes.
They are delicious as a topping for salads, but they are also super good tossed in soup or (if you ask my kids) as a snack.
I could literally live off panzanella salad. Bread, tomatoes, oil, vinegar & fresh herbs. What more do you need in life?! Oh, wait…mozzarella! Yes, everything is better with cheese.
Place cubed bread ends in a bowl with fresh garden tomatoes (don’t miss out on any of the juices!), thinly sliced onions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, basil & parsley. And don’t forget the cheese!
Even my kids, who claim to hate tomatoes and onions, devour this salad in seconds. In fact, my six year old even asked me to make a second batch!
French Toast Sticks
My kids love french toast, but even more they love french toast sticks – perfect for dipping. Thankfully, ends make perfect french toast sticks.
Slice lengthwise and dip in a wash of eggs, milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon & nutmeg, then fry in a butter-coated pan. Serve with icing sugar (if you want to be super fancy) and 100% pure maple syrup. Mmm….I’m making myself hungry!
My Grandmother’s family have been making stuffing balls for years and it’s the perfect way to use up bread.
Dice 2 onions and 5 stalks of celery, and saute in 500ml of chicken stock until the onions are clear. Cube bread ends (equivalent of one loaf) in a large bowl with 450g of crumbled bacon. Pour the vegetables over the bread and stir, adding eggs until it’s of rolling consistency. Bake at 180° for 15 minutes or until brown.
We make them for Thanksgiving and I’m usually too stuffed on the actual holiday to eat them, but I adore eating them for breakfast the next day and they’re perfect when you’re on-the-go. I mean, they have bread, eggs, bacon and veggies. Perfect, right?!
Speaking of bread and eggs, why not add some cheese into the mix (remember, everything is better with cheese!).
Stratta is a layered breakfast casserole with bread, eggs and cheese. Our family like to add lots of veggies and sometimes meat. Think broccoli and ham. Or peppers, mushrooms and onions. Or bacon. Mmmm, bacon.
Many of these recipes were handed down from earlier generations, generations where waste was simply not an option. Let’s celebrate how far we have come and be mindful of how far we have to go by enjoying these delicious dishes while reducing our own waste. Happy cooking!
Please note: no bread went to waste in the writing of this article. In fact, we rescued all the bread ends from a local restaurant who would otherwise have thrown it in the bin. Win-win.