It happens every day in the baking industry. You get to the end of the shift and there’s leftover bread on the shelf, ready to be thrown out.
Australians waste more than $5 billion worth of food every year, although this is still rising. This staggering statistic is not only heart-breaking but mind-blowing. The pressure put on our planet to produce food plus the associated methane with rotting food waste are two massive environmental (and financial) burdens that are, quite honestly, easy for us to influence. It also affects every bakery’s bottom line.
At La Madre, we guard our waste fiercely. We still have some improvements to make, but as we bake to order, our general waste is quite low. Leftover loaves are ‘purchased’ by our staff with their gold coin donations going to charities of their choosing. Any other loaves go to local farmers for animal feed. It makes sense to us, so we do just do it. And, really, everyone should follow suit.
Rather than let bread go to waste, we encourage our customers to find creative uses for their stale bread. Here are a few ideas you can share with customers, or might be able to use for leftover bread in your business.
• Tear up your leftover loaves into rustic chunks and throw into a Tuscan ribollita for a winning winter warmer.
• Dice some free-range bacon or chorizo and gently fry with tiny croutons (no need to add oil) and use as a garnish in your favourite soup. We love it with a classic pumpkin or potato and leek, especially when fresh herbs are added too.
• Dress to impress: give those cool weather vegetables the rock star treatment with toasted breadcrumbs. Fennel bakes well with butter and thyme while celeriac dauphonoise kicks along with a crispy crust. And don’t forget brussel sprouts! Cook slightly first, halve, then pan fry with garlic and lemon and bready chunks. Rye sourdough loaves add an earthy goodness, while the seeded sourdough gives an added texture.
• Use breadcrumbs in pasta with some olive oil, lemon zest, a touch of red chilli and some fresh herbs.
• Top firm white fish fillets with a breadcrumb mixture of lemon zest, parmesan cheese and capers, drizzle with olive oil and pop in the oven to brown.
• We use our Sourdough Vine Fruit Loaf in a bread and butter pudding recipe.
• Make croutons from the ciabatta breads for a lighter, crunchier texture or from the sourdough loaves for a denser, heartier crouton.
You can follow us on www.lamadre.com.au/blog for more sustainable food tips. We recommend the blogs of Gourmet Girlfriend and Sustainable Table as well. If you would like to be more involved in reducing waste, OzHarvest is a charity that rescues excess food that would otherwise be discarded.