How to Use Whole Grains

mother-in-wheat

Sprouted Wheat in Denmark

Follow this link for Localvore recipes, including recipes that use local grains.  Another great resource is Nitty Gritty Grain Company’s Recipe Forum, where customers and grains enthusiasts can post recipes of their own.  And here’s a great pancake recipe from Yankee Magazine that uses New England-grown whole wheat!

For some background on spelt, along with some tips for using it in your everyday cooking, check out this brief article about spelt from University of Vermont Nutrition & Food Specialist Dianne Lamb.

Here’s a great recipe for whole grain salad from our Canadian neighbors at Island Grains:

  1. Rinse 2-4 cups of your whole grains to get rid of any chaff.
  2. Soak the grains, if possible, for up to 24 hours in the fridge in lots of water and 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Fill the pot with water and boil like pasta until the grains are soft enough; some like their grains al dente, some like mushy. We find it takes 30 minutes to cook our rye this way.
  4. Drain the grain into a colander, let it cool a bit, and put it in a big salad bowl.
  5. Saute 1-2 onions and lots of garlic in butter until translucent, and add to salad.
  6. Roast/saute/steam any vegetables you like, and add to salad (we love canned olives, roasted squash, sauteed peppers …)
  7. Add cheese if you like cheese (feta is awesome).
  8. Drizzle a salad dressing of your choice over the salad (e.g. creamy garlic or honey dill dressing).
  9. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, spices) and stir.
  10. Refrigerate before eating, if possible, to let the flavors blend.

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Curious about Brewing with Local Grains? Check out Andrea and Christian Stanley’s presentation on brewing with local grains, from the 2010 NGGA Conference.  The Stanleys own Valley Malt, where they grow and malt their own brewing grains in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Heirloom & Local Wheat Bread Tasting

Jon Melquist from Truckenbrod Bakery baked up loaves in NOFA-VT’s wood fired oven using a variety of local wheat from heirloom varieties from the 1800’s to modern day varieties.

Baking Tests of Vermont and Kansas Wheat
By Jeffrey Hamelman, Certified Master Baker

To date I have made four test bakes with Vermont-grown wheat, between February and April 2009. Wheat varieties included AC Morley and Harvard. Tests were done using unsifted 100% whole wheat flour, and on flour that was sifted once prior to mixing. I have also made comparison bake tests using Turkey Red, an heirloom landrace whole wheat flour from Kansas.

All the doughs were made using only natural sourdough for leavening (no commercial yeast was used). Formulation for the doughs was as follows:

Vermont wheat 50%
Organic white bread flour 50%
Water 75%
Salt 1.9%

20% of the overall flour was used in the sourdough phase. Final dough mixing was done in a manner consistent with current baking standards—use of the autolyse-repos technique, and reasonably gentle mixing (between 130 and 170 mixing hook revolutions on second speed). Bulk fermentation lasted 2.5 hours, with one folding of the dough at the halfway point. After dividing, the loaves were shaped round and had a final proofing of between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 25 minutes. Bake temperature was hot at the outset (about 450˚F), and the temperature gradually receded to about 420˚F.

The breads made with sifted Vermont whole wheat flour had better volume and aspect than the unsifted breads. Neither style of bread made with Vermont-grown flour was equal to the Kansas wheat in terms of volume or crumb structure. The flavor of the Vermont breads was good, although the loaves were on the heavy side and had a somewhat dense interior, which did affect eating quality.

I was able to get some lab results on the Vermont flour (and was provided with test results on the Turkey Red wheat from the mill). It was clear from the results that the protein level was (barely) adequate for bread making (10%), but the falling number was low (204), and no doubt this resulted in an elevated level of amylase activity in the dough, which ultimately contributed to its density and relatively poor performance. My conclusion, as a baker and not a miller, crop scientist, or farmer, was that the potential exists in Vermont to raise wheat of suitable quality for bread making, but that without reliable wheat testing (at a minimum, testing for protein quantity and falling number, and ideally being able to obtain farinograph information as well), wheat quality, amylase activity, and overall suitability for bread making will always be a guessing game.

[NOTE: Testing for moisture, protein, and falling number is now possible at UVM Extension’s Wheat Quality Lab!  More information here.]