Remove the crust from a white loaf, slice it and leave the slices uncovered at room temperature for about 24 hours. Only then are they ready to be turned into fresh crumbs. Once this would have been done by rubbing through a sieve, today a food processor does the job effortlessly. The resulting crumbs still have a high moisture content and will go mouldy if put into a jar.
The next stage is to dry them, either on a tray in an oven at the lowest setting, with the door slightly ajar, or laid out on a tray in a warm place. When dried, they will keep in an airtight container for several weeks.
Another approach is to put slices of bread on a baking tray, crusts on, and bake them in a moderate oven (180°C/350°F/gas 4) until golden-brown, then blitz them in a food processor to a crumb. This produces the finest crumb, technically called raspings, which are best for coating fish cakes or any food which is to be egged-and-crumbed, then deep-fried. They hold better than fresh crumbs.
It is a good idea to, give a double coating of raspings to food which is to be deep-fried.
If you want to fry breadcrumbs to serve with game, then these need to be the fresh variety, which are shallow-fried over a low heat with butter until crisp and golden.
A final variation is to make olive oil crumbs from bread brushed with oil and baked until crisp. These are excellent with grilled or baked vegetables, but need to be used the same day or they go rancid.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.