Try these uses for rock-hard stale bread

We have all bought a fancy loaf of bread, or used our baking and pastry arts skills to make one, only to forget about it or not eat enough before it becomes as hard as a rock. Instead of tossing the bread in remorse at a lost opportunity, try these recipes and ways to bring new life to the loaf:

Make croutons
You know what's great about croutons? Everything. These tasty morsels are delicious on soups, in salads and as a super-easy snack. Use a serrated knife and cutting board to slice the bread into bite-sized pieces. Throw them in a bowl and toss with olive oil and your favorite herbs. Rosemary, thyme and black pepper are delicious. Then, lay out the pieces on a baking tray and put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When they're done, toss the pieces in a sealed container for optimal freshness. You can also freeze them for later use. 

Try bread crumbs
Bread crumbs are not just for the birds. They can add a little crunchy, buttery goodness to many dishes. Use the crumbs as stuffing for a turkey or chicken, a topping for salads, sauteed veggies or even as crust-like layer on mac and cheese. Simply cut the stale bread into smaller sections and then place them in a food processor. If you plan to save some crumbs and not use them immediately, consider processing them only to the largest size that you would use. That way you can make them smaller if necessary, but you won't have to start over from scratch later. 

Rehydrate it
With a little TLC, you can bring bread back from the dead. All you have to do is run some water over the loaf so it gets some moisture. Then, set your oven to 300-325 degrees. When it has heated up, place the bread right on the rack and leave it there for 6-7 minutes. Add a few more minutes if the loaf is totally soaked or if it's a larger one. The steam from the water will add moisture to the loaf and rehydrate it. The bread may even be tastier than the first time you had it. Plus, it will last another several days. 

Realize it's past its prime
Stale bread is still edible, but moldy bread is not. If there is any visible molding on the loaf, you will need to throw it out. You don't want to get sick from eating old food. 

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