Hundred-Year-Old Recommendation to Eat Bread Crusts

two bread crusts on a cutting boardSome people eat bread crusts and consider them the best part of a loaf of bread; others toss them in the trash. Apparently, the value of bread crusts is a long-standing question. Here are some excerpts from a 1919 magazine article:

“Eat the Crusts”

“Eat the crusts, dear,” grandfather used to say to me when on those delightful never-to-be forgotten childhood visits to grandpa’s house.

Whether it was because of the dear old man’s admonition and the love I bore I don’t know, but I do know that I have always eaten crusts and do yet.

In childhood I ate crusts because my elders said it was right to eat them, and as I grew up and went to high school and college, I took a more than passing interest in chemistry, and then I discovered the real reason why one should eat bread crusts. The heat of the oven has a particular effect on the starch and sugar contained in the flour of the wheat and changes it into dextrine, and the greatest amount of dextrine is found in the crusts, so that the crusts of bread are the most easily taken care of by the stomach.

American Cookery (October, 1919)

39 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Recommendation to Eat Bread Crusts

  1. Interesting About the crusts. Thanks for sharing it. I’d of never guessed it had extra value.
    I’m one of those folks who eat or toss the crust depending on my mood. Unless it’s homemade bread, then I savor it til it’s gone.

    1. Crusts are tasty when toasted, though I find it frustrating when I sometimes have problems with the crust (heel) being too thick to fit into my toaster.

    1. You’re right of course! Curly hair was apparently your reward. I didn’t want curly hair though….. Now I willingly and cheerfully eat my crusts. I didn’t then. In fact I didn’t really like bread at all.

  2. We ate the crusts because it was considered wasteful to throw away part of the food. My parents were both children of the Great Depression, and wasting food (or anything for that matter) was not done. Probably one of the important life lessons I learned that has served me well for the most part.

  3. I too was told about them making the hair curly – what a strange notion…also the issue of dextrine being beneficial would be approached differently today I think.

    1. It would be interesting to know the history of the saying about eating crusts making hair curly. It would be interesting to know if food chemists today think that bread crusts are healthier than the rest of the bread.

  4. My parents went through the Depression so we did not waste anything and crust and heel were always eaten. It is good to know the crust is good for you! Parents used that line about “making your hair curly” on many things…never worked for my straight hair. I have seen crust-less bread in my local store. It just looked naked and so wasteful.

    1. I haven’t seen any of the crustless breads at the stores where I shop, but it sounds really strange. I’ll take bread with a crust any day.

  5. I love the crust, especially when the bread is homemade. I did run into crustless finger sandwiches in a local tea room recently. It’s been a long, long while since I’ve seen those.

    1. It’s interesting that you recently saw some finger sandwiches that didn’t have a crust. I had thought that sandwiches without crusts were out of style. I’ve seen recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks for dainty sandwiches where the crusts are cut off – though I’ve never made any of them because the fillings didn’t seem very appealing to me, but your comment makes me think that maybe I should try one of those recipes and then do a post about it.

      1. My mother belonged to a ladies’ bridge club, and when they came to our house, she always used cookie cutters in the shape of diamonds, clubs, spades, and hearts to make little crustless sandwiches. The ones at the tea room were filled with cream cheese and cucumber, egg salad, and pimento cheese. I confess they were quite wonderful — each used a different, and very good, bread.

    1. We often make sandwiches using crusts, though sometimes I use crusts to make bread crumbs (and in November I save them to make stuffing for my Thanksgiving turkey).

      1. I make these easy Fruit Rollups that use good old “Wonder Bread” – any white bread, which we normally don’t eat, and you cut off all the crusts before rolling out the bread. I save all those crusts and use then for all kinds of things. Waste not, Want not!

  6. Nothing like a piece of hot crusty heel of homemade bread ,slathered with butter! oops I probably just made it unhealthy…πŸ˜‚ I just learned something new. THANKS!

  7. I’m of a generation that had Home Economics as mandatory in high school. Still I am not an inspired cook, but do recall the instruction to carry whatever might be spread on bread, to the very edge of the crust. Of course that didnt apply to the best breads that want to be eaten alone.

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