Stop Throwing Away so much Bread

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An average British household throws away around 4.4m tonnes of food, (which is still edible,) per year, with bread being the most wasted item of all. Bread is a staple part of many diets all over the world and is the basis of many a meal, including being used for breakfast as toast, a main ingredient of the lunch-time sandwich, and then again at dinner or supper as an accompaniment to the main meal or soups and stews. And yet still 32% of bread bought by UK households gets dumped when it is still perfectly fit to eat according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Research by the anti-food waste organisation Wrap, estimates that around 680,000 tonnes of “avoidable” bakery waste is thrown away each year, costing around £1.1bn, which is a staggering figure. About 80% of bread which is thrown away is from packs which are opened, but not finished.

So how can you find ways to use up all this bread instead of throwing it away? Not everyone likes a good old-fashioned bread and butter pudding anymore, so here are some different ideas:

Treacle tart: Use fresh breadcrumbs for the filling

Breadcrumbs: Can be made from fresh or stale bread

Fish cakes: Use to make a crispy breadcrumb coat

French toast: Uses slices of stale white bread dipped in egg and then fried. Serve with bacon for breakfast or add a bit of sugar and cinnamon and serve with ice cream and fruit for dessert.

Cauliflower cheese: Ciabatta breadcrumbs make a delicious topping

Quiche cases: Cut the crusts from white sliced bread and then flatten with a rolling pin if it’s thick-sliced. Brush with melted butter and use to line muffin tins to make individual quiches; a great alternative to pastry.

One way of not wasting bread is to make your own; the chances are that when your family smell it straight from the oven that you won’t have any left to throw away! Sadly it’s not something which everyone has the time to do any longer, but research has shown that if you ‘connect’ with your food in this way that you are less likely to throw it out. One of the problems with shop bought bread is that the normal white sliced loaf is very often tasteless, bland and boring, whereas if you make something like ciabatta to go with a spaghetti Bolognese, it is full of flavour already due to the olive oil content. You can make it even tastier by adding some finely grated Parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of mustard powder to the dry mix.

Simple Soda Bread

500g plain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp fine sea salt

Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt

Milk, if necessary

Sift flour and bicarb into a bowl, stir in salt. Make a well, pour in buttermilk, and stir. Add a drop or two of milk if necessary to bring the mixture together. Aim for a soft dough.

Tip out onto lightly-floured work surface; knead for a minute, long enough to pull together into a loose ball but no longer.

Place on a lightly floured baking sheet, dust generously with flour. Mark a cross in it, cutting about 2/3 of the way through. Put in preheated oven at 200 C/gas mark 6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

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