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Don’t throw away the scraps! Repurpose leftover bread and make your own homemade croutons. They’re great to have on hand for soups and salads. They even make great snacks for the kiddos. I’ve written this article Homemade Croutons Recipe and Storage to teach you how to make them and store them.
I don’t know about you but at my house, we seem to always have bread scraps. Nobody wants the crust pieces of the sliced sandwich bread. I inevitably have a single leftover hamburger or hot dog bun when I buy them for a get-together. Or rarely, I may have leftovers from my homemade loaf. Don’t throw them away. Pop them in a bag and toss them in the freezer for your homemade croutons. I usually do this for 6 months to a year or so until I need to make some freezer room and clean out all the bags. You could be more organized and put everything in a gallon zipper bag. I prefer to just throw the bag of ends and pieces in the freezer as is. They will fit in smaller spaces and I can use my freezer space more efficiently.
You can use different kinds of breads together for your homemade croutons. Brown, white, buns, bagels, slices, and loaves. Anything goes! Check out our own recipe for 3 Ingredient No Knead Dutch Oven Bread. This would make delicious croutons!
Pull out the frozen bread scraps and slice them into small squares approx. 1in x 1 in. The smaller they are, the faster they’ll dry out. Try to be consistent with the size in order to have even drying time. If you have large chunks throughout, you might have to extend the drying time or risk moisture inside those larger pieces. Moisture breeds bacteria and mold and will ruin your product.
This is a matter of preference. Typical crouton seasoning is onion salt, garlic salt, Italian herbs, parmesan cheese. You can really add anything you want to your homemade croutons. I like the flavor of tossing the croutons in olive oil however if you want them to last for a really long time, the oil can taste stale after a while. An alternative is to store them plain and then toss them in oil and season in a fry pan before use. It really depends on how you plan to use them. I like to make a batch to last for a long time (potentially years) so I keep mine plain.
Spread bread cubes on your dehydrator sheets or a cookie sheet for oven drying. Either way works great. I use the Excalibur 9 Tray Electric Food Dehydrator but you can put them in the oven at its lowest setting. I’ve also dehydrated garlic to make my own Garlic Powder and Citrus Powder out of orange peels.
Food Dehydrator Method: Dry for 4-6 hours at about 155°. Check the homemade croutons and make sure they are completely dry and crunchy. Any moisture is disastrous.
Oven method: Dry for 15-20 minutes at 375°.
If you need to store your homemade croutons, determine the best method for you. No matter how you store them you should use these Food Grade Moisture Absorber Packets. Otherwise, they go stale faster.
Vacuum sealing is great for long term storage. I use the Food Saver Vacuum Sealer System and suck out all the air.
Jar storage works well for a couple of weeks unless you suck out the air and seal the jars. This can also be done with Food Saver accessories. I’m still using croutons I made in 2017 but officially I’m sure I’m not allowed to claim a 4-year shelf life. Give it a try and let us know how they turned out. Like I say, much of your preparation will depend on whether or not you use them right away or plan to store them.
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