Breadcrumbs are a culinary ingredient that is widely used in the preparation of various dishes and breading. The name "breadcrumbs" comes from the Italian word "galetta" or French "galette". These are essentially ground, dry bread and should not be confused with normal crumbs from bread, which in turn are dry and fresh.
In culinary use, breadcrumbs find mention centuries back throughout history - documented records are preserved in the cookery books which mention their use back in 1716. This suggests that someone, somewhere made breadcrumbs in order to find a use for old dry bread, as well as bread crusts left over from meals.
We also need to distinguish breadcrumbs from croutons, with the latter being small bread cubes about 0.4″ long, often baked or fried and seasoned with salt and other spices. Breadcrumbs are much smaller in size, more akin to coarse grains of sand. There are both coarse and finely ground breadcrumbs.
Dry breadcrumbs are made by toasting very old bread to remove the excess moisture from it. It has a sandy texture and is even floury. Typically, it is used for breading and makes for a tender and crispy crust.
Bread which is used to make soft, fresh and not too dry breadcrumbs is correspondingly soft and fresh, resulting in larger crumbs, which are used when we want to have a soft and tender crust or stuffing.
Japanese panko breadcrumbs (Panko), which are mainly used for breading and frying are quite popular. There are two types of panko breadcrumbs - white panko (from the core of the bread) and tan panko (the whole bread with the crust). These Asian breadcrumbs are used in cooking fish and seafood. Besides in Japan, Panko breadcrumbs are manufactured throughout the world, especially in the Asian countries of Korea, Thailand, China and Vietnam.
Nowadays, in the U.S., Panko breadcrumbs can be found in jars in the health food aisles. Actually, the availability of breadcrumbs in those aisles is just a marketing gimmick, because they are not distinguished by any special dietary properties, and on top of that are more used for frying and batters.
Composition of breadcrumbs
When it comes to nutritional value, they are similar to the bread that is used to make them. Typically, 2/5 cup of breadcrumbs contain: 395 calories, 13.35 g protein, 71.98 g carbohydrates, 5.3 g fat.
There are about 47 calories from fat in breadcrumbs. Fine ground breadcrumbs have even greater amounts of phosphorus (165 mg), calcium (183 mg), magnesium (43 mg), choline (14.6 mg) and iron (4.83 mg), sodium (732 mg), potassium (196 mg).
Selection and storage of breadcrumbs
We can find packaged breadcrumbs, usually in packs of 17.5 oz and 2 lb or more. When choosing breadcrumbs, there are some simple and basic things you need to follow. Be sure to check whether the texture is smooth and homogeneous - if there are bulges, it may mean that the breadcrumbs are old. The color of the fine particles is also important - they are ocher, and if you notice any other color, it could very well be mold.
Once you open the package, you should keep the dry breadcrumbs in a suitable box with a lid, which does not allow in air. You can put them both in the kitchen cupboard and in the refrigerator, where they can remain for much longer. Remember that it is better to prepare fresh breadcrumbs in the quantity required for your immediate cooking needs.
Culinary use of breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs take part in the making of very different dishes. Rolling in flour, egg and breadcrumbs is the classic version of crumbing. Often, frying various meatballs, meats, fish, etc. is simply done by rolling in breadcrumbs. Aside from frying, breadcrumbs are used as a thickening agent in various sauces, baked dishes and can be sprinkled on top to get a crispy crust. If you mix fine crumbs with different dry or fresh spices you can get an incredibly aromatic blend that can even be used in salads and sprinkling of vegetable dishes.
You can prepare flavorful and delicious breadcrumbs by taking 1 cup of bread crumbs, adding 1/3 teaspoon salt, some paprika, black and white pepper, dried basil or savory. Italian breadcrumbs are made by adding dried parsley, dried basil, dried rosemary, garden tea, thyme and a little salt. You can add various other products to breadcrumbs - cheese, vegetable oils such as olive oil and a wide range of fresh herbs. An especially interesting taste comes from breadcrumbs that have been mixed with exotic spices like curry, turmeric and nutmeg.
Preparation of breadcrumbs
Making homemade breadcrumbs is very easy. All you need to have are few pieces of stale bread to toast in the oven, then wait for them to cool down and crush them. The easiest way is to use a food processor - just drop the pieces of dry toasted bread and blend briefly. The longer you let the blender run, the finer crumbs you will get.
Another option is to put the bread pieces in a plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, meat mallet or other large, heavy object. If you use household rolling pin, simply glide forward and backward with pressure. Breadcrumbs can be prepared with any kind of bread you have at hand. Note that each type bread will have a slightly different taste. You can make two types of crumbs - from fresh and dried bread.
If you want to have fresh soft breadcrumbs, use stale bread. The difference is that there is no need to bake, just leave the pieces for an hour or two out in the open air to dry. Use the center of the bread slice and chop with a large knife or drop them in the blender.
3 slices of bread produce about 1 cup of fresh crumbs. If, however, you crush 3 slices of toasted and dry bread, you will get a much smaller amount - between 1/2 and 2/3 cup. The reason for this difference is the greater amount of moisture which gives volume to the fresh, non-toasted bread. For 1 cup of fresh crumbs, you need about 4-5 slices.
Recipe for crumbing with breadcrumbs and cheese
breadcrumbs - 1 and 1/2 cup or fresh bread crumbs
cheese - 2 tablespoons, grated
salt - 1 tsp
oregano - 1 tsp
parsley - 3/4 tsp dry
onion - 1/2 tsp powdered
garlic - 1/4 tsp powdered
paprika - 1/4 tsp
Stir all the ingredients together and roll the breadcrumbs in the resulting crumbing before putting them to fry in preheated oil.