Use your loaf to prevent food waste

Published: 5 Mar 2014

Can you believe that bread - that most useful of staples - is the food we throw away most often? A whopping 24 million slices get thrown in the bin every day in the UK - and that's just from our homes. The good news is we're getting better: that figure is more than a third less than we were throwing away in 2007 - but it's still a massive waste! 
We all do it: if you think you don't, keep a food diary or put all your food waste into a container for a week. I didn't believe I wasted food, especially bread, before I started working at Love Food Hate Waste, but I'm ashamed to say I did. Those few slices at the bottom of the bag really do add up: 24 million slices of bread would stretch up and down Snowdon 110 times, or the Shard building in London almost 400 times. Happily, I now buy only what I need and use what I buy. 
Because we don't like to run out of staple foods, such as bread and milk, we buy some 'just in case'. Most of the bread that ends up in the bin has either gone past the date shown on its wrapper, or we think it has 'gone off'. But the 'best before' date simply means the bread is in its peak condition before that date - it is perfectly fine to eat, providing it still looks and smells OK. 
Hopefully these tips will help you to end the bread waste in your house, as they have in mine, and thereby reduce the damage that food waste does to the environment. 
• Keeping bread in the fridge is a bad idea - it goes stale very quickly there, so the good old bread bin is best. 
• If, like me, you always end up with half a loaf going off at the end of the week, divide your loaf in half when you get it home on shopping day. Put half in the original bag, sealed with a bag clip or clothes peg (use a straw to draw out the air from the bag when it's sealed - it keeps it fresher for longer) and put the other half (sliced if needed) in a sealed bag or pot in the freezer. Toast the frozen slices straight from the freezer; it tastes just as good - the only time it will taste a bit 'freezery' is if your bag or pot isn't sealed, because the frost gets on to the bread and causes freezer burn. 
• If you've bought a whole unsliced crusty loaf and it's gone hard, splash it with a bit of cold water and reheat it in the oven to bring the crust back to life. 
• Look out for smaller loaves that have been introduced by Hovis and Kingsmill, among others, to make it easier for us to only buy what we need. 
• If you end up with bread crusts that nobody eats, freeze them. Then, if you make fish cakes, bean burgers, savoury crumbles etc, simply take a couple out of the freezer, defrost them in the microwave and blitz in a food processor (or use a grater) to make breadcrumbs. 
• Try out some bread-saving recipes - including tomato gratin, roast-herb fillet of fish, panzanella, 'le pudding', and garlic and bread soup (it's amazing) from lovefoodhatewaste.com. 
There really is satisfaction to be had from using up the end of the loaf!  
Courtesy of The Guardian: http://bit.ly/1kuvYAA

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