Are Croutons Really Just Stale Bread?

What's a salad without croutons? Not only do the crunchy little snacks add texture to greens, but they also work great on soups and make for an indulgent guilty pleasure when enjoyed right out of the bag. The carb-rich garnish is so revered that it even has its own holiday. According to National Today, National Crouton Day is celebrated each year on May 13.

Croutons have been used in kitchens across the world since medieval times with origins believed to trace back to France. A tall tale tells the story of a diplomat named Ser Edgar Crouton who dropped bread in his soup in the presence of a king. Afraid to offend the king by sticking his hand in his soup, Ser Crouton ate the bread and soup together right off the spoon and was surprised to find that it was a delightful mouthful (per National Today).

But are croutons really just old, stale bread? That certainly doesn't sound as good as it tastes.

Croutons are best when made with stale bread

Preparing croutons is surprisingly quick and hassle-free. Simply dice up slightly-stale, leftover bread into cubes, add olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, then pop them into the oven on a large baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, et voila! Homemade croutons. The best part? You can use any type of bread to make croutons including pita, naan, or dare we suggest focaccia?

But don't fret, stale bread doesn't inherently mean rotten bread. When it comes to making croutons, stale bread actually gives you the crunch you need to add texture to soups and salads (per Kitchn). But remember, under no circumstance should you consume bread that has molded. If your once-fresh loaf of bread has gone stale, avoid unnecessary food waste by baking them into homemade croutons. And if you choose to use fresh bread, let the slices sit out on the counter for a few hours until they lose excess moisture. 

Who knew stale food could be so delicious?