Ten Uses for Stale Sourdough Bread


One of the great things about making bread with sourdough starter is that it seems to keep longer than store-bought bread. Some also claim that the flavors evolve even after it bakes, a nod to the bacteria, acids, and yeasts that continue to do their work in your bread loaf.

Eventually, though, time and environment will take their toll on your loaf of homemade sourdough bread. In times past food was not and could not be wasted. Little scraps of vegetables made their way into the stock pot. Leftover soup was added to and simmered until the next meal. And stale bread was used economically in tasty and interesting ways.

Let no crumb of your naturally fermented sourdough bread go wasted with these recipes:

Refreshed Stale Bread. If you are still interested in reviving that loaf for serving with butter then you may want to try this method of reviving stale bread.

Panzanella. This is an Italian bread salad that utilizes stale bread as an ingredient in an otherwise fairly ordinary salad. The dried-out bread is perfect for sopping up the flavorful ingredients and dressing in the salad, giving you a flavorful, fresh way to use up that stale sourdough.

Cut the stale bread into 1/2-inch cubes and toss into a large bowl. Add vegetables like greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. Then add other flavorful ingredients like chunks of cheese or salami, fruit, or nuts. Finally, dress the whole thing in an olive oil and vinegar dressing with plenty of garlic, salt, and pepper. Allow the flavors to meld for at least 20 minutes before serving.

French Toast. This familiar breakfast favorite is made even better when stale bread is used. The dried-out bread soaks up the custard mixture and any flavors added to it. Try adding vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or citrus zest for a fun addition to your breakfast.

Bread Pudding. Much like a baked French toast, bread pudding can be made savory or sweet. The basic premise is to make a flavorful custard mixture using eggs and milk and tasty additions. (Think cinnamon, raisins, bourbon, vanilla, or chocolate for a sweet bread pudding; and garlic, onions, mushrooms, vegetables, meats, and cheese for a savory bread pudding.) The dry bread soaks up this rich, flavorful custard and bakes into a delicious meal.

Breakfast Strata. Whereas a bread pudding gives you big bites of flavorful bread when bitten into, a strata uses bread as more of an accompaniment to the eggs it contains. A strata is made by taking stale bread and putting it into the bottom of a casserole. Then an egg-heavy mixture that most likely contains cheese, vegetables, and other flavorings is poured over these bread cubes. The bread acts as a lovely complement to the eggs and flavorings and stretches expensive ingredients like eggs, cheese, and meats.

Croutons. These crunchy additions to salads and soups are made by simply coating cubes of dry bread in butter or olive oil and baking. The stale bread soaks up all the flavor of the fat and any additional ingredients, like garlic or parmesan cheese, and becomes rich, crunchy, and delicious. Using sourdough bread adds a depth of flavor to croutons that yeast-leavened white bread just cannot produce.

Bread Crumbs. Once your bread is dry enough you can grind it up to make homemade bread crumbs. If it isn’t quite dry enough for your liking you could put it in a low oven or even lay it out in the hot summer sun on a very dry day. Grind it in a food processor to make homemade sourdough bread crumbs.

Piedras or Stones. Using ground-up bread crumbs from your stale sourdough plus a bit of flour and other ingredients you can make a scone-like traditional Mexican treat called a piedra, or stone. These are much like a scone or a sweet biscuit in texture and flavor and can be flavored with just about anything: berries, spices, cheeses, etc.

Bavarian Bread Dumplings. These savory dumplings, called Semmelknodel, are like small dumplings of stuffing with ingredients like eggs and milk to bind the day-old bread to vegetables and herbs. Try them with your traditional sourdough for a Bavarian delight.

Feed it to the chickens or pig! If there is food that your family can’t or won’t eat for some reason then the livestock will love it. You can also feed it to your compost pile, or to the birds that hang around your yard or the park.

Whichever way you choose to recycle your stale sourdough bread, you can know that, much like our foremothers, you made the most of all that you had.

Stale Homemade Sourdough Bread

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