Rye, or Secale cereale, is a grass producing edible grain. The plant can grow up to 2m tall. The grain matures up to 9mm long with a shimmering bluish colour. The ripe corn easily falls away from the husk during threshing.
The Rye we know is descended from Anatolian wild rye. Rye has been planted in central Europe since 700BC and used as a bread cereal ever since. Without its husk, a grain of rye consists of 60% carbohydrate, 9.5% protein, 13.2% fibre, 1.7% fat and 1% minerals (ash) as well as containing significant levels of Vitamins B and E.
It is used in flour, wholemeal flour, semolina and cereals.
Perennial Rye, also known as Primeval Rye, is a specialised simple form of cultivated rye having a much smaller grain and a 50% lower yield. It is grown relatively rarely but can be found in a few fields in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) Rhienland-Pfalz, or in Kanton Argau in Switzerland.
For more than 1200 years, until superseded by wheat, Rye was the most frequently used grain in breadmaking. White bread came into fashion long ago: even the ancient Greeks sieved the bran out of their wheat to create a white flour. Right up until the 20th century, people strove to put the expensive white bread on their tables. Wheat does have better baking properties for pastry and pasta but doesn’t have the health benefits of rye.
Whether derived from Wheat, Rye or Dinkel, white flour is manufactured purely from the core of the grain. In wholegrain flour only the indigestible awns und husks are discarded. The Aleurone layer, the outermost layer of the endosperm separating the grain from the husk and the seedling, remain in the flour preserving all of the grain’s nutrients.
Flour extraction provides us with all the well-known flour types: wholegrain flour, in order to conform to the norm, must consist of all of the grain’s constituents.
During flour extraction the grain will initially be roughly crushed, then the inner part of the grain, the endosperm, will be separated from the husks by sieving.
The remaining 30% to 60% of the original volume is known as the flour Extract.
By comparing the nutrients between wholegrain rye and rye flour extract, it is clear to see that wholegrain rye has both lower sugar levels and fewer calories whilst having a higher number of beneficial fibres.
The type designation on a packet of flour signifies the flour’s ash or mineral content in mg per 100g. The higher the number the more minerals there are in the flour. Rye flour 815 contains therefore, 815mg of ash per 1kg, however these type designations and numbers vary from country to country.
In Germany we use Rye flour extract type 815 for biscuits, rye pasta or noodles. Type 997 is used for brown breads, type 1150 for sourdough bread and type 1370 for dark rye breads. In type 1800 wholegrain flour, which is known as coarse grain rye flour or rye meal, pieces of the grain are visible.