I’ve baked my own whole-grain bread for more than 40 years (the kind food writers call “rustic”). I don’t think I’ve ever bought a loaf of bread.
Yet store-bought white bread somehow occasionally puts in an appearance here, and I will say it serves a number of surprising household uses that don’t involve consuming it. Almost worth keeping a loaf on hand in the freezer.
Make a poultice. Soaking a piece of bread in hot milk is a renowned folk remedy for bringing an unripe boil or pimple to a head. Press the excess liquid from the bread, spread it over the affected area, and cover with a clean cloth. Remove when the bread poultice gets cold. Repeat as necessary.
Remove splinters and stings. Soak a piece of bread in cool milk, press out the milk, and apply the bread to the affected area, and bind it with a band-aid or a piece of duct tape for a few hours or overnight.
Prevent tears while cutting onions. Spear a piece of stale bread with your knife and slide it up to the end of the blade near the handle.The bread absorbs most of the “vapors.”
Collect slivers of broken glass. Reach for a chunk of soft bread after you’ve swept and vacuumed the big shards of a broken glass, and use it to pat down the area to collect those tiny slivers that remain. Wear rubber gloves; dispose of the bread in the trash when you’ve finished.
- A coffee grinder. Pinch off a three or four small pieces of stale bread, grind them up in your grinder, dump the crumbs, and wipe the inside of the grinder clean.
- Oily fingerprints from photos. Ball up a slice of stale bread and swipe gently.
- Smudges, crayon, or pencil marks from walls. In a pinch, a ball of stale bread can work. Rub gently—one direction only.
Butter corn on the cob Spread butter on a slice of bread and rub or wrap it around the steaming hot cob. No mess, no wasted butter.
Soften brown sugar, cookies, and other baked goods. Just add a slice of bread to the sugar or baked goods and seal in a metal canister or ceramic jar.
Prevent strong cooking odors. Remove the smell (and most of the taste) from scorched food by adding a slice of bread to the pot and covering it for a few minutes. Likewise, adding a piece of bread on top of broccoli, cabbage, or other strong veggies as they steam will keep the odors from escaping into the kitchen air.
Remove grease. When cooking greasy foods, add a chunk or two of bread to the pan or boiler pan to absorb the grease.
Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.