Bread crumbs were widely used in the Middle Ages and still today in Spanish cuisine (gazpacho, recipe in Dutch). It is still widely used for meat balls, breading ingredients before frying, or making a golden crust in the oven. Bread crumbs can even be used for thickening sauces, as shown in historical recipes like Salmon with red wine sauce and Green sauce. It can even be used instead of flour to make a batter for medieval wafers.
How to crumble bread
It is best to make the crumbs from bread that is a couple of days old. It is a great way to be economical: bread crumbs made from leftover bread can be kept in the deep freezer. But if the crumbs are to be used for breading it is best to use bread crumbs that have not been frozen, as these may contain ice crystals that cause the frying fat to spatter.
I prefer using a blender for making fresh bread crumbs, Cut the crusts from the slices of bread. Cut the slices in half, and cut across in to short strips. If the strips are too long, they may get stuck in the blender above the rotating knives.
Cover the blender with a lid with a center hole for dropping ingredients in. Drop the bread strips a few at a time while the machine is running. Keep doing this until there are so many bread crumbs in the blender that the bread strips can not be processed anymore. Empty the blender and continue until all bread strips are processed. Use at once or freeze the bread crumbs, packed loosely.
The crusts can be fed to the birds, but they are also a delicious snack when fried or deep-fried.
Breadcrumbs can be dried in a slow oven; Japanese panko is also dried bread crumbs.
Making fresh bread crumbs
Some recipes ask for fresh bread crumbs, to make meat balls, or to bread an ingredient before frying.