Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Easy Croutons

Every time I go grocery shopping, I check out the day old bread for making croutons. A few years ago a huge bag was only a dollar but now I pay around 2.00 for the same bag with about two dozen rolls of various sizes and types.

Reduced bread, cubed up for croutons is a bargain when compared to ready made croutons. The last bag I purchased held these lighter type sandwich buns and the remainder were sourdough buns.
On the same trip I noticed a 120 gram container of commercial croutons was priced over 2.00 and held maybe a cup and a half. We can do better. Only six of the buns cubed up from the 2.00 bag made far more than 120 grams. The extra sourdough rolls were still fresh and worked fine for three days of bag lunches and soup dunking.

I prefer to purchase rolls over loaves for croutons. A bag of rolls holds more bread overall than a single loaf of bread, rolls are easier to handle, I can use some of the rolls in other ways and the amount of croutons being made is easily adjusted.
Usually I make croutons by placing a few tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon or so of whatever seasoning I want - garlic salt, parsley flakes, cayenne, parmesan cheese - into the plastic bag the bread came in and mix that up well coating the bag interior. I then dump the bread cubes back into the bag and shake it up to coat the bread with the seasonings and oil. If you have an oil and vinegar type of salad dressing on hand, try using it to coat the cubes.

This time I skipped adding oil and sprinkled seasoning directly onto the cubes. There was enough moisture in the cubed bread that the seasonings stuck. No one here noticed the croutons were oil free except GG. And that is only because he thinks this is all very scientific looking so he had stood there watching me make them.
I am always looking at cutting calories and a way to do that is to cut the fat out. Yes. Fat tastes good. Saucey Chef once told me that fat carries the flavour throughout whatever it is you are making. She said, "Put your seasonings or flavourings into the fat of the recipe and the dish will be better." The croutons made without fat were lighter but tasted good too.

Spread the bread cubes onto cookie trays. Put in the oven set at 200 F. and let this bake until the croutons are dry. They don't need to brown. Take them out after ten - fifteen minutes and touch them. If they feel dry, they are done. Batches made with oil brown faster and need to be turned on the trays. The total baking time for this batch without oil didn't take long - maybe 20 minutes.
Let the croutons cool completely on the cookie trays. I store mine in this big commercial pickle jar found in a second hand shop. Because there is no fat in these croutons I expect they will keep quite a long time. Ones I've made with fat have lasted six weeks stored in a cool spot. How easy was that? And look how much only six buns made - more than a cup and a half for sure.


Mental P Mama said...

I want those soups! Delish!

Caution Flag said...

I have to remember to visit your blog AFTER I've eaten - not before. Your blog and the grocery store...

Jeanne said...

If you paint my photo please be sure to send me a copy I would love that
You are so talented.
Much love

Words Words said...

You had me all excited about the possibility of (cheap) sourdough croutons and then let me down.

Still, looks delicious. And there's nothing wrong with soup-dunking. Hoo boy.

Decadent Housewife said...

Any kind of bread can be used. I've used sourdough in the past.

This time I kept the sourdough for sandwiches since it doesn't dry out like other breads and is still good even from the clearance bin.

Camille said...

Excellent! I have a few bags of old bread/rolls in the freezer that I was saving for bread crumbs, but I have more than I need and I NEED some freezer space. I also have fresh bean soup for dinner and now we'll have croutons to go with!

Glory von Hathor said...

I thought I was Queen of Croutonia, but that title surely belongs to you.

Aaron Thomae said...

Read this an let me know what you think!!!