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Bread crumbs are made by processing bread into a coarse or fine powder. It is usually made from leftover bread and is a good way of avoiding wastage. It is usually light pink or light brown in colour. If made from toasted or dried bread, the resulting powder is fine. If ground from fresh bread, it is white in colour and crumbly in texture.
The main role of bread crumbs is to act as a coating agent before pan frying or deep frying certain foods. Dried bread crumbs are used to make a crisp and crunchy coating for fried foods. However, fresh bread crumbs wouldn't serve the same purpose. They produce a much softer coating or crust and are mostly used in stuffing rather than as a coating.
The best way to make bread crumbs is to grind in a food processor, blender or a mixer. Approximately four slices of bread will make one cup of crumbs.
How to select
• If making bread crumbs at home, decide whether you want fresh or dried bread crumbs as per the recipe requirement.
• If purchasing branded bread crumbs, ensure that you check the manufacturing date, expiry date and packaging beforehand.
• Bread crumbs are mainly used as coating agents for pan fried and deep fried foods. Cutlets, veg patties or burger patties are all first coated with a refined flour or corn flour paste and then coated with bread crumbs. A coating of bread crumbs actually gives the patty a defined shape and holds it together. It avoids breaking of the patty when deep fried. Once fried, it gives a crisp texture and golden brown colour. Usually dried bread crumbs are used for coating deep fried foods.
• Fresh bread crumbs are used as stuffing for various meats and poultry based main courses, or even for certain innovative paneersnacks, koftas or finger foods.
• Bread crumbs can be sprinkled as topping on au gratin recipes before they are baked.
• Panko bread crumbs, a special Japanese variety of plain or herbed bread crumbs, go very well with seafood. It is commonly used in preparation of crab cakes etc.
How to store
• Always store bread crumbs in an airtight container away from humidity.
• If you have used bread crumbs in a recipe and the remainder is a little moist, store the used crumbs separately. Mixing them with the fresh lot will reduce the shelf life.