Waste no Bread this Christmas not even a crumb

Prevention of food waste is a hot topic, and one that will be on our radar for years to come, no doubt. We’ve talked about sustainability before, and the steps our bakers take to constantly implement sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices. We’re now coming close to that time of year when we frequently stock up on extra food in anticipation of hosting family and friends during the festive period so perhaps now is a good time to think again about how we can maximise the use of our sliced pans and make sure that not a crumb is wasted.

First of all, remember that correct storage is important. Bread needs to be stored at room temperature and not in the fridge. Be sure to clean your bread bin from time to time, as crumbs lost in its depths may eventually become mouldy and the mould could spread to the loaf. Our sliced pans are wrapped in compostable wax paper or recyclable plastic bags, so make sure you tuck in the wrapper in order to keep your bread as fresh as possible for as long as possible. If you’ve done a big shop, you can always freeze a loaf or even a few slices. Bread freezes really well and defrosts quickly. You can toast frozen bread straight from the freezer too. It is a real timesaver to have breadcrumbs in the freezer, so take the slices and heels at the end of the loaf, blitz them up into breadcrumbs and freeze them.

On Christmas Day itself, bread is one of the star ingredients in the form of breadcrumbs for the stuffing or for old-fashioned bread sauce. In fact, some would say it one of the very best uses for bread, especially if it’s even a day old. 

Bread that’s a few days old can be used to make croutons or melba toast for your visitors over the festive period, which a good alternative to crackers. It can be served with dips, paté, or soup, or simply buttered for your Christmas get-togethers. 

Traditional Bread sauce recipe (using slightly stale bread works best):

100g day-old breadcrumbs
550ml Milk
Large Onion
50g Butter
15-20 Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper
4 tbps cream or Mascarpone (it is Christmas after all!)

Place the onion, cloves, bay leaf and peppercorns in a saucepan with the milk. Add some salt to season, then bring everything up to boiling point. Take off the heat, cover the pan and leave in a warm place for the milk to infuse for two hours or so. When you're ready to make the sauce, remove the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns and keep them on one side (just pour it all through a sieve is easiest). Stir the breadcrumbs into the milk and add half of the butter. Leave the saucepan on a very low heat, stirring now until the crumbs have absorbed the liquid and thickened the sauce. 
Just before serving, reheat gently then beat in the remaining butter and the cream or mascarpone (if using), grate in the nutmeg, and taste to check the seasoning.