The deli where I worked in college used wonderful, crusty baguettes to make its sandwiches. They were delivered fresh from a local bakery, emitting an audible crrrrcccchhhhh when you squeezed them. A few customers complained. They said our baguettes were too crusty, the exteriors too sharp when bitten into. The owner never cared. The crust, the deli’s owner instructed, was the mark of a good baguette—if it didn’t crunch when squeezed, it wasn’t worth your time.
I took this to mean that crusty bread exteriors were a mark of European bread sophistication. I figured everyone across the pond must love their bread the way I do: browned, crisp, toothsome. I am troubled to report today that this apparently not the case. Londoners especially are not all enthusiastic crust fans, throwing away heels of bread and ends of loaves to the point that they’re significantly contributing to the city’s food waste problem.
To combat this, the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has launched a Save The Crust initiative aimed at saving the equivalent of 59 million loaves of bread that are thrown away each year in crusts. The Authority’s research finds 43 percent of households throw away crusts, with 15 percent of households rejecting the heels of sliced bread. (According to Waste Management World, there’s an urban legend that bread crust makes your hair curly. What?)
NLWA offers tips for using up unwanted bread crusts, including make breadcrumbs, stuffing, or bread pudding from the scraps. Chefs will host cooking demonstrations across the city, and an online workshop will also be offered. Please, someone tell all these crust-discarders about the joys of panzanella.