A half a round of artisan sourdough bread sat forgotten in the small fridge at work. Stored in a paper bag and left for too long, it had lost both moisture and appeal.
I don’t know whose it was, but I took it home with me anyway to save it from the bin.
A breadful waste
It’s often our default to toss food that’s past its prime. Our food prices are artificially low and it’s so easy to just buy more. With Australians wasting $8 billion of perfectly good food each year, and bread being a staple for most, it’s not a leap to imagine we’re binning a lot of perfectly good bread.
We’re long way from where we’ve come.
Humans can and did live on bread alone (the slow fermenting variety). In fact, the daily loaf was so critical to the meagre diet of the French peasantry, it was soaring wheat prices that catalyzed the French Revolution. I feel certain the French of the time would disapprove our bread wasting ways.
How do you do, pain perdu?
The French, as it happens, know a few tricks for using stale bread. One of which is pain perdu, or bread pudding – just the bread soaked in a mixture of milk and eggs and cooked. This is precisely what I did with the stale bread I found.
Here’s my ‘forgotten, but not lost’ bread pudding recipe:
- half a loaf of stale bread, chopped into rough chunks
- 4 eggs (ish)
- milk, maybe a half cup
- 1 Tbsp sugar, rice malt syrup or other sweetener (optional)
- sprinkle cinnamon
- sprinkle nutmeg
- pinch salt
- dash vanilla
Instructions // Mix everything together to soak for an hour. Bake in a 200 degree celsius oven for 30 minutes or until it starts to puff up and the inside is cooked.
Pro tip // This could easily go savoury if you omit the sweets and change the spice profile.
How I made it low waste:
- I used food destined for the bin.
- I seasoned with spices I’ve refilled in bulk.
- I flavoured with vanilla I made myself.
- I composted the egg shells.
- I recycled the milk container.
- I baked it in a stainless steel pan I bought secondhand for $2 at the op shop.
- I composted the paper bag the loaf came in (if it hadn’t been a bit greasy I would have recycled it).
- Importantly, I ate all of it.
7 tips for getting the most out of the bread you buy
- Buy proper sourdough. It keeps longer, freezes well, and is one of the more nutritious types.
- Buy your loaf unpackaged from a local bakeshop. Bring a cloth bag to carry it back home.
- Or try making your own sourdough bread from culture.
- Don’t store bread in the fridge where it’ll lose moisture.
- Do consider freezing half the loaf if you don’t think you’ll eat it all before it goes stale. Slice first so you can toast from frozen.
- If the bread’s a bit stale, make bread pudding (scroll up), or croutons, or breadcrumbs.
- All else fails, feed it to chickens or compost.