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How to Make Dry Bread Crumbs

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Breadcrumbs
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Breadcrumbs are easy to make and a great way not to waste bread that is past its prime. They are called for in numerous recipes: I use them to add a crunchy topping to casseroles, to "stretch" ground turkey or other ground meat in meatloaf or turkey burgers, and sprinkled over lightly greased baking dishes to prevent whatever I am making from sticking.

There are two types of breadcrumbs called for in recipes: fresh breadcrumbs and dried breadcrumbs. Fresh breadcrumbs are simply finely crumbled bread, and have a light, moist texture. They don't keep well. Dried breadcrumbs are fresh breadcrumbs that have done some time in a low oven. They keep for months at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

I'm going to give you two ways to make dry breadcrumbs, one that uses a food processor and one that does not.

Making Breadcrumbs without a Food Processor

  • Preheat the oven to 250F/120C.
  • Trim the crusts off of the bread. Break the crustless bread up into no larger than 1-inch chunks. Lighter loaves such as white flour baguettes can be left in slightly larger pieces. Dense, whole grain loaves need to be broken up smaller.
  • Spread the chunks of bread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Bake until the pieces are crunchy dry and just starting to turn golden (but not burnt). This will take 15 - 25 minutes depending on the type of bread you started with.
  • Remove the baking pan from the oven and let the bread cool for a few minutes.
  • Transfer the bread to a plastic or paper bag. Use a rolling pin on top of the bag to gradually crush the bread into crumbs. Don't try to do this too quickly or you risk tearing the bag.

Making Breadcrumbs with a Food Processor

Don't bother trimming the crusts of the bread if you are using a food processor to make your breadcrumbs.

  • Preheat the oven to 250F/120C.
  • Tear or cut the bread into no larger than 1-inch chunks.
  • Transfer the pieces of bread to a food processor and process until the chunks are reduced to crumbs. Remove any large pieces of crust that resisted the transformation.
  • Now you've got fresh breadcrumbs. Use them immediately, or turn them into dry breadcrumbs. To do the latter, spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Bake until they are completely dry and starting to turn golden (but not burnt), about 20 - 30 minutes. During this time, stir the breadcrumbs often so that they dry evenly.

Store your breadcrumbs in clean, dry glass jars or other food storage containers for up to 1 year. I keep mine in the cupboard, but if you live in a very humid environment, store dry breadcrumbs in the freezer or refrigerator.

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