Making salad croutons specific to your unique taste is a dream come true. What do you prefer … basic herb, spicy, Italian, garlic and/or butter? Whatever your taste, you can make them any way you like. It is also wonderful to know that by making croutons yourself, you can maintain freshness with a variety of air-tight containers.
When slicing day-old bread, you might find yourself having lots of crumbs flying in (and around) your kitchen airspace. To help keep flying bread particles at bay, you might want to enlist the help of a Crumb Board. Having a good quality Bread Knife will also go a long way towards getting precise cuts.
Day-old bread is perfect because the texture of the bread won’t be too soft when you cut it. I usually cut both ends off the loaf and discard it. This is a personal preference; you might like to use it. I find that the end pieces are harder and more dense; thus, they don’t absorb the seasonings and butter very well. (Prepare to day-dream, because it takes a few minutes to cut them into nice cubes. I dream of winning the Florida lottery.)
What I like about this Homemade Croutons Recipe is that you can vary the seasonings in the basic recipe to suit your particular taste. For example, if you want Italian croutons – add Italian seasoning to the basic recipe. You can omit and add spices as you like. Nothing is etched in stone, so play with the basic recipe until you find the right combination of spices for you and your family.
After you have combined all the ingredients, you need to place the bread cubes in an ungreased baking pan – the larger the better. Place in a single layer, if you can. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, and check on them regularly. You will need to stir them around every now and again to prevent excessive browning.
The house will smell wonderful while they are baking. When done, their color should be a beautiful golden brown. Cool them off, and store in an airtight container. I like to store my croutons in glass jars, not plastic containers. I believe glass helps keep the bread fresher, and inhibits it from absorbing plastic and/or other chemicals. Not only are these croutons delicious, but they also look beautiful sitting out on open shelves in your kitchen or pantry!