Use your loaf! 20 tips for saving bread from the bin

Bread is one of the most wasted items in our society.  24 million slices of bread are wasted every day (about 91,000 slices in Brighton & Hove alone!).  Tesco estimates that 33 – 44 % of all bread produced in the UK goes in the bin.

You may ask – what’s so wrong with that? It’s only a bit of bread.  But if you add up all the carbon used in the growing of the wheat & grains, the fertilisers and pesticides sprayed on the crops, the oil used in transportation, the plastic in packaging and the time of the bakers, you have a real problem.

breadsWhy is this happening?  Well, the supermarkets over-bake in order to have full shelves all the time and loaves are chucked away at the end of the day to make way for fresh loaves the next day – because that’s what consumers want.

Bread is also one of the hardest things to re-distribute as it has a short shelf-life and many organisations such as homeless shelters and food banks are inundated with the stuff. 

The Circular Economy Club & Brighton & Hove Food Partnership put on an event to think through ways we could reduce this waste in Brighton.  We heard from some inspiring speakers who are helping to reduce bread waste.  Anthony from Bagelman talked about his initiative with Franklin’s Brewery to turn left-over bagels into delicious Optimist beer.  Justin from Real Patisserie talked about their efforts to stop bread from being wasted in the first place. The Real Junk Food Project‘s Sarah spoke about their efforts to pick up bread from supermarkets and redistribute it though their pay as you feel cafes and the new Bevendean Food Hub.

It turns out that two-thirds of all bread waste happens at home.  This means that as consumers we are all responsible for a bit of the picture. After the event this week, we have agreed to share information online (using #useyourloaf) to help householders think about ways that they can save bread and eat more delicious food at the same time.

Here are some top tips and recipes so you can save that loaf:

  1. Keep your bread at room temperature and not in the fridge.  If you think you will only eat half a loaf before it goes stale, wrap the other half up and put it in the freezer.
  2. breadRevive your old loaf by soaking it in water and putting it in a hot oven at 200C for a few minutes.  It will come out good as new (although this doesn’t work if it is sliced).
  3. Whizz up any leftover bread into breadcrumbs, these can be bagged and put in the freezer to use later.  You can use breadcrumbs in bread sauce, stuffing, sprinkled on top of bakes etc.
  4. Toast! We all love toast.
  5. Bruschetta (posh toast), oozing with oil and delicious toppings like fresh tomato and basil
  6. French toast
  7. Croutons
  8. The infamous bread and butter pudding, can be jazzed up with whatever you have at home, fruit, brioche etc.
  9. Strata (aka savoury bread and butter pudding), bread soaked in eggy sauce and baked with spinach and cheese
  10. Ribollita, tasty Italian soup with kale and beans and crusty stale bread
  11. Fatoosh, yummy seasonal salad from the middle east using up stale flat breads or pitta
  12. Panzanella,bruschetta another Italian salad with ciabatta cubes soaking up the oily dressing
  13. Spicy pasta with anchovies, lemons & breadcrumbs
  14. Bread sauce (this seems to be a marmite like side-dish around the office, but I think it can be amazing)
  15. Sage and onion stuffing, a great accompaniment to any roast dinner
  16. SemmelKnodel, German dumplings made with stale bread, soak in a delicious stew or gravy
  17. Croque Monsieur, toasted sandwiches dripping with cheesy sauce
  18. Glamorgan sausages, tasty vegetarian leek & cheese sausages with white breadcrumbsglamorgan sausages
  19. Make rusks – bake sliced bread (cut into strips first) at 150C for 50 minutes and no longer as it goes bitter. Great for babies and kids, great for dipping, great as croutons.
  20. Use dry bread under cauliflower cheese or any other baked dish to soak up all the liquid and add more calories and carbs.
  21. Make your own bread, if you use 60% water in the mix then it will stop it from drying out too quickly.
  22. Don’t forget the packaging contributes to waste as well.  Bring your own packaging to your local bakery.  Even better make or buy some wax wraps to keep the bread fresh.

The Surplus Food Network is an alliance of Brighton & Hove based organisations helping to deal with surplus food.  If you are interested in volunteering to help us reduce waste across the city, then get in touch.  Check out our new video:

 If you are a business and want help to figure out what to do with your surplus food, come along to our Surplus Food Business Brunch on Tues 9th October.

Any queries get in touch with Helen Starr-Keddle on helen@bhfood.org.uk or 07850 002596.

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