Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bake It -- Don't buy It!: Homemade Croutons

This recipe is courtesy of my sister. This is the type of recipe that could be more or less cost-effective, depending on the kind of ingredients you use. Of course, croutons are not a necessity to most of us, but they certainly can perk up a boring salad or soup.

Here are my sister's directions:

Use a good bread. Nothing with a spongy interior. I like to use an Italian round from Harris Teeters’ artisan bread collection. I also have used the French loaf.

Let the bread sit for a day or two to go stale (depends on the freshness). I generally cube the bread the day I get it or the next day and then leave out the cubes overnight.

Spread the croutons on a cookie sheet. I cover the cookie sheet with foil. Then I drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the cubes and sprinkle with sea salt. (McCormick’s Sicilian sea salt is a good one.) I use my hands to toss them a bit to make sure all get olive oil/salt.

Put in oven at 375 or 400 (check Joy of Cooking on this) for ten minutes or so, until a light golden color (adjust as desired). If I’ve used bread that isn’t truly stale yet or if the croutons are still soft or soft in the center, I reduce the heat to 200 and leave the croutons in until sufficiently dried out (I taste to test.)

Isn't her butternut squash soup beautiful too?

Final Analysis: This is a very easy and cost-effective way to make meal a little tastier and more special. As with many frugal practices, you would have to plan ahead a little bit to make these, but other than that they are extremely quick and easy.

Approximate costs:

Store bought: $1.50-$2.49 for 5 oz.

Homemade: Really depends on the cost of the bread you use. Using the Harris Teeter Artisan bread bought on sale for $2.99, I would estimate you would get at least 3 times the amount in 5 oz. package. So that would be (at worst) $1.00 for 5 oz.

Using my homemade bread machine French bread (which costs about $.94/loaf), you could make these for as little as $.31 for 5 oz.!

1 comment:

  1. I make these too! Except mine are with fresh bread and toasted in a skillet with olive oil and then sprinkled with oregano, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a touch of cayenne. It's a good snack for little people.


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