Why Stale Bread Makes For The Best Homemade Croutons

tray of crispy croutons
tray of crispy croutons - chaechaebyv/Shutterstock

We've all been there. Your bread selection consists of the last heel in the loaf, a single bagel, two hoagie rolls, and the crunchy end of a baguette. You try to revive that day-old bread only to realize it's time to admit it's past its prime. But don't fret. Day-old, dried-out, and even undeniably stale bread is the perfect foundational ingredient for quick and easy homemade croutons. In fact, many people argue it's better than fresh bread for the simple reason that it results in a crispier crouton.

This accouterment is not only easy to make at home but is delightfully versatile in its ability to elevate the flavors of everything from soup to salad. Perhaps the beauty of making your own croutons stems from the fact that they make use of what you might otherwise view as waste: stale bread. Once you know that, you'll start looking at your bread drawer -- and your shopping list -- differently.

Read more: The 18 Unhealthiest Store-Bought Sliced Breads You Can Buy

Why Stale Bread Is Better

Assortment of loaves on shelves
Assortment of loaves on shelves - Foodandstyle/Getty Images

Bread is often prized for its soft, fluffy texture when used in sandwiches or as a side dish. However, when it begins to lose its primary appeal, converting it into croutons gives it new life in a different form -- one that's renowned for the exact opposite of soft and fluffy. Stale bread makes the perfect companion in this endeavor because it maintains the bready flavor while offering a crisp textural contrast to soft, velvety, or liquid elements of the dishes they adorn.

Through natural dehydration, stale bread already offers a slightly, or predominantly, crunchy texture, making it easier to work with than bread that compresses down easily. This not only helps the bread keep its shape while you tear or cut it into cubes or slices, but it also results in a crunchier crouton once cooked. There's an argument to be made that hand-tearing your bread makes a better crouton. However, there aren't a lot of rules here. You can always grab a knife and uniformly cut your cubes if you prefer.

The Beauty Of Homemade Croutons

Seasoned croutons on baking pan
Seasoned croutons on baking pan - Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

In addition to being quick and easy to make, making your own croutons will save you money, both by reducing waste and by eliminating the need to buy prepackaged goods. You can use any type of bread, cut or tear them into strips, cubes, or discs, and season them to your liking. It's the perfect opportunity to get creative with flavors. The bread you start with will influence the end flavor, too. For example, a loaf of rye bread or sourdough will offer a distinct taste profile, while making croutons from leftover hamburger or hotdog buns gives you a blank slate to work with.

You can toss in herbs, spices, or cheeses. Caesar, seasoned, and parmesan croutons are all popular choices. If you don't have a use for them right away, you can store them in an airtight container for a few days or even pop them into the freezer for as long as six weeks. However, if you do want to use them up immediately, look past the soup and salad. Top your casserole, process them into bread crumbs, or simply enjoy them as a snack. Of course, you have other options for your stale bread. For example, you could serve up some French toast or make bread pudding with your leftover brioche. In fact, we've put together a list of 13 Unique Ways To Use Day-Old Bread. Enjoy!

Read the original article on Daily Meal.