Breadcrumbs are bread that has been grated or finely ground, either with or without the crust. They’re produced from both fresh and stale bread. Ready-made versions may also contain colouring, emulsifiers or treatment agents.
Fresh breadcrumbs are usually best made at home, and most easily with semi-stale bread. If you’re making them by hand, use a coarse box grater and grate the bread loaf directly on it. If using a food processor, cut the bread loaf into small cubes first as this will produce the most even result.
To dry breadcrumbs, spread the fresh crumbs to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness onto a baking tray and place into a low oven (150C/300F/gas 2) for about 20-30 minutes, stirring the crumbs gently halfway through cooking, until lightly golden-brown and dry. Commercially-produced dry breadcrumbs can also be purchased from most major retailers.
Fresh breadcrumbs are best used immediately, while dry breadcrumbs can be stored for a few weeks in a cool place, using an airtight container, or up to 3 months in the freezer. The ends and crusts of bread loaves can be stored in a bag in the freezer and turned into breadcrumbs another time.