A crouton is a small cube of bread that has been toasted or fried and rubbed with garlic.
They are usually used as toppings for soups, salads, pasta dishes, and stews.
Croutons can be made from leftover bread in your kitchen pantry, or you can buy them ready-made at most grocery stores these days.
In this post, we will cover how long croutons last, how to store them for later use, and how to make your own.
What are Croutons?
Croutons are a type of bread that is usually cubed and fried.
The result has crunchy, crispy pieces on the outside with soft dough inside.
The word “crouton” is derived from the French verb “croûtonner,” which means slicing or cutting small cubes.
Croutons are most common in soups and salads but can be used as a garnish on any dish for extra texture.
While chefs originally made croutons by hand, nowadays, they’re more often made by machines.
You can find croutons in most grocery stores in the bread section.
How to Make Croutons at Home?
When you’re in the mood for a salad but don’t have croutons, make them at home.
You can use any type of bread: white, whole wheat, rye, or French.
- Cut your desired amount into cubes and toast until crispy on all sides.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss with olive oil if desired before toasting for even more flavor.
- When toasting croutons, it’s best to toast them for about 8-10 minutes on medium, stirring occasionally.
Voila. These homemade croutons will give your salad a much-needed crunch.
How to Use Croutons in Recipes?
Croutons add a nice crunch and flavor to many recipes.
Below are a few ways you can use them in your meals:
- Pair croutons with soup or salad.
- Use breadcrumbs for meatloaf, fish, chicken dishes, matzo balls (Jewish dumplings), and more.
- Sprinkle some on a pasta dish before adding the sauce.
- Add it to a stir fry, casserole, or souffle for texture and flavor.
- Crush them up in your hands (or place between two sheets of wax paper) into crumbs for garnishing pastries like shepherd’s pie, lasagna, and more.
Get creative with your croutons and enjoy.
How to Store Croutons?
As you prepare to store your croutons, it is important to consider that they will be stored away from the cold and dry air.
Like most pastry, croutons are best stored in a sealed container in the pantry.
For homemade croutons, seal them in a plastic storage bag and place them back in the pantry.
For store-bought croutons, it is best to transfer them into an airtight container for long-term storage.
Some people prefer glass containers cleaned with hot water before sealing the food inside; others prefer metal or plastic containers.
If you are not going to use all of the croutons, it is best to store them in the refrigerator.
Like other foods made with flour and oil, they will last longer when stored in a cool environment with no extreme temperature changes.
How Long Do Croutons Last? Do Croutons Go Bad?
No one wants to have to throw out uneaten croutons, so it’s worth knowing how long they last.
Proper storage is key to keeping them fresh for as long as possible.
The fridge is the best place to store croutons, but they will only last about three days before going stale.
The freezer can extend its shelf life by four weeks or more if properly stored in an airtight container labeled with a date.
Don’t leave them in the bag they were sold in, as it’s not airtight and will allow moisture to condense on the croutons.
If you leave them on the counter, they will dry out much faster.
It’s best to follow the expiration date on the package if you’re not sure how long croutons last.
As a general rule, though, once dried out and stale, croutons are inedible.
Try to use them up as quickly as possible.
How to Tell if Croutons are Bad?
There are many ways to tell if croutons are bad.
One way is by looking at the date on the package or bag of crouton packages.
Another good test for determining whether or not a packet of croutons has gone bad is by smelling it and seeing what it smells like.
A strong smell is a good indicator that the croutons are not fresh.
One of the more reliable ways to determine if croutons have gone bad is by looking at them and seeing whether or not any mold has appeared on the surface.
If there is no visible mold, then they may still be okay to eat.
However, when you taste them for yourself, the taste of mold can often be noticed.
The texture also can give away the age of croutons.
If they look dried out and are hard, it is good not to eat them.
If any of the croutons in your package or bag have gone bad, you can go ahead and dispose of them.
Keep these tips in mind to help you determine if croutons have gone bad.
Croutons can be a versatile addition to any meal.
They make an excellent topping for salads, soups, or even pasta dishes, and they’re perfect as the crunchy garnish on top of your favorite sandwich.
The short answer is that croutons will last in their container for up to 3 days when stored properly.
The shelf life depends on what type you buy because some are made with preservatives while others aren’t.
If store-bought, then it’s likely the date printed on the package is accurate, so check there first before checking anything else.