Discover different ways to vary the flavour and texture of your crumbed food
Dried and fresh breadcrumbs - what's the difference?
Generally, when recipes refer to dried breadcrumbs, this means packaged breadcrumbs made from bread that's dried or toasted then processed to fine crumbs. They're good for coating foods to be fried, as they don't colour or burn as quickly as fresh breadcrumbs.
Fresh breadcrumbs are perfect for stuffings, soups, gratins, cauliflower cheese, or for herbed or cheesy crumb mixtures. To make, process bread that's one to three days old to fine crumbs (crusts on for savoury, crusts off for sweet). One slice of bread (crust on) will make 2⁄3 cup crumbs. One slice of bread (crust off) will make 1⁄2 cup crumbs.
You can use bought breadcrumbs to crumb foods, but if you have a food processor it's easy to make your own. Remove the crusts from day-old white bread slices and cut into cubes. Transfer the cubes to the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Fresh breadcrumbs freeze well and are a great way to use up leftover bread. Once you've made your breadcrumbs, transfer to a sealable plastic bag. Label, date and freeze for up to three months. Place the frozen breadcrumbs in the fridge until thawed, then use instead of bought breadcrumbs in recipes.
Creative crumbing combinations
Now that you know the basics of crumbing, you can vary the flavours in your coating to create a range of delicious meals. Try these ideas.
1. Add ground spices, such as cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper, to the flour mixture.
2. A little finely grated cheese, such as parmesan or cheddar, combines well with fresh or dried (packaged) breadcrumbs.
3. Add other flavouring ingredients, such as finely chopped pitted black or green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped capers or lightly toasted sesame seeds to the breadcrumb mixture.
4. Add finely chopped fresh herbs, such as continental parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and dill, to the breadcrumb mixture. You could also use dried herbs.
5. Add finely grated lemon, lime or orange rind to the breadcrumb mixture. As a guide, lemon rind works well with lamb, veal, chicken and seafood; lime rind is a good match for chicken and seafood.
6. Instead of breadcrumbs, coat the food with other dried ingredients, such as rolled oats, cornflake crumbs, crushed corn chips, polenta (cornmeal) or cooked couscous.