In times past, food was never wasted. With no refrigeration, people could salt, pickle and dry foods to keep for another time, but with bread, they had to use it up before it molded.
ADVICE FROM OLD COOKBOOKS:
“Never waste stale bread, as it may be used to advantage in many ways. The economical housewife carefully inspects the contents of her bread box every morning before planning her meals for the day, and is particular to use scraps of bread and left-over meat and vegetables as quickly as possible. Especially is this necessary in hot weather. Never use any food unless perfectly sweet and fresh. If otherwise, it is unfit for use.
Loaves of bread which have become stale can be freshened if wrapped in a damp cloth for a few minutes, then remove and place in a hot oven until heated through.”
SAVORY FRIED BREAD
Cut slices of stale home-made bread about half an inch thick. Soak the slices in a rich, well seasoned vegetable stock until nearly saturated with it—don’t allow them to become too soft—then dip in beaten egg mixed with a little milk. Fry in butter in a spider* until a nice brown. Serve with tomato sauce, or around a dish of stewed tomatoes.
*spider – a skillet with a flat bottom, straight shallow sides, a short handle and three short legs.
Fry a half dozen slices of thinly-sliced bacon in a pan. Put bacon, when fried, in oven to keep hot. Cut stale bread into slices about three-fourths inch thick and then cut each in half horizontally. Make the following mixture: one pint of sweet milk, three eggs, one teaspoonful flour mixed smooth with a little of the cold milk and a pinch of salt. Place the bread pieces into the mixture and soak for a few minutes, turning frequently. Dip the slices of soaked bread in fine, dried bread crumbs and fry quickly in the bacon fat (to which has been added one tablespoon of butter) to a golden brown. Serve at once on the same platter with the bacon, or instead of using bacon fat, fry the crumbed bread in a tablespoonful each of lard and butter. This is an appetizing and wholesome breakfast or luncheon dish, served with a tart jelly, either currant or grape.
Cut stale bread into thin slices, remove crusts, and cut in halves. Toast evenly, and spread first with butter, then with honey, and dust with cinnamon. Serve very hot.
Boil one quart of milk with three sticks of the cinnamon, slightly broken. Strain it, and set it away till quite cold. Grate as much crumb of stale bread as will weigh a quarter of a pound. Beat eight eggs and add it to the cold milk. Add the bread crumbs and one-fourth pound of sugar, stirring well, then add a little grated lemon-peel. Bake the pudding it in a buttered dish, and grate nutmeg over it when done. Do not send it to table hot. Baked puddings should never be eaten till they have become cold, or at least cool.
NOTE: This recipe had no oven temperature or time. According to this recipe on the Allrecipes website, it should be cooked at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.
CROUTONS AND CRUMBS
Cut stale bread into small pieces, the size of dice. Brown in hot oven* and serve with soup instead of serving crackers.
Small pieces of bread that cannot be used otherwise should be spread over a large pan, placed in a moderate oven and dried until crisp. They may then be easily rolled fine with a rolling-pin or run through the food chopper and then sifted. Put in a jar, but not in an air-tight jar. Tie a piece of cheese-cloth over the top of jar. Keep in a dry place until wanted.
Crumbs may be used for crumbing eggplant, oysters, veal cutlets or croquettes. All should be dipped in beaten white of eggs and then in the crumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper, then floated in a pan of hot fat composed of two-third lard and one-third suet. All except veal cutlets. They should be crumbed, not floated in deep fat, but fried slowly in a couple tablespoonfuls of butter and lard.
Cook two cups of celery cut in half-inch pieces in three cups stock or water about half an hour, or until tender. Add salt (if necessary), pepper, and one-third cup flour mixed to a paste with one-fourth cup milk. Stir until thickened, and simmer fifteen minutes. Pour over toast, and garnish with parsley.