Much ado about crusts

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Much ado about crusts

Most of us have been there: the time when our mothers lovingly packed us sarmies for school, only to have us return our lunchbox filled with crusts.

“Eat your crusts, they’re good for you!” our moms used to exclaim in exasperation upon opening our lunchboxes after school and finding a neat pile of crusts.  But no, the chewy borders on our cheese-and-tomato sandwiches inspired in us a sense of unnamed dread. They were dry, they weren’t as soft as the rest of the bread and, well, we might have seen our friend Timmy discard his crusts with reckless abandon, and we all knew Timmy was the coolest kid in class.

So, is there a reason why kids should be encouraged to eat the much-abhorred outer shell of their sandwiches? Turns out, your mom might have been onto something when she said that crusts are good for you.

A few studies, namely one conducted by scientists at India’s Annamalai University, and another by researchers at the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science in Germany, have indicated that the Maillard process, which ensures the exterior of bread browns while baking, triggers the release of powerful antioxidants, including pronyl-lysine, which known for its anti-carcinogenic properties. The bottom line? There is eight times more pronyl-lysine in the crust of bread than the crumb.

That’s all well and good to know, but hard scientific facts are unlikely to sway kids into changing their minds about “yucky” crusts. The solution? Some good old -fashioned smoke and mirrors. The internet is packed with tactics for sneaking crusts into your kids’ diet. We especially liked the one where you cut off the crusts and disguise them with peanut butter and jam inside a sandwich. Another option is to take them out of context, and give your kids little crust “soldiers” to dunk into their favourite dip, be it hummus or, more likely, Nutella (you win some, you lose some). Certainly the most interesting tip we saw was to roll up strips of bread crusts and tell your kids that they’re eating snails. Like that would work… If it’s the thought of wasting food that’s bugging you, you could always skip the whole drama and just cut off the crusts beforehand and keep them in the freezer to make breadcrumbs later. Learn how to make bread crumbs here.

At the end of the day, whether your child eats his crusts without blinking an eye, or goes to extreme lengths to avoid them, it’s not a major train smash. After all, most of us grew out of the habit and turned out relatively fine. Right?


Annette Klinger Article by: Annette Klinger

Woolworths TASTE’s features writer maintains that almost any dish can be improved with butter and cream. She’s a stickler for comfort food, especially German treats that remind her of her late grandmother, such as pork schnitzel with sauerkraut and spätzlen. She is a voracious reader of food magazines and recipe books, and instinctively switches over to the cooking channel whenever she checks into a hotel or guesthouse.

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