The grain of the month for August is rye. Rye is a strong grain that can withstand tougher conditions than most others. According to the Whole Grains Council, “rye grows more rapidly than wheat, can withstand submersion during ﬂoods, and continues to thrive during drought,” which makes it a superior grain in temperate conditions.
• Rye is actually a type of grass.
• Russia, Poland and Germany are the top three producers of rye worldwide.
• Rye is sometimes referred to as the “poverty grain” because of its inclination to flourish in poor soils and its popularity among impoverished communities.
• Rye berries can be boiled and eaten. They are characterized by their sweet, nutty flavor.
• Rye is used to distill alcoholic spirits. It is most commonly used to make whiskeys such as bourbon and pure rye whiskey. It is also a base ingredient in vodkas and gins.
Nutritional Information and Health Benefits
Rye has an outstanding ability to aid in weight loss, lower your blood pressure and risk of diabetes, as well as help with digestive and cardiovascular health. Some of the other health benefits associated with rye include:
• Good source of dietary fiber, especially arabinoxylan, which is high in antioxidants.
• Lowers insulin response and helps to control blood sugar and regulate appetite.
• Sustained feeling of fullness after eating which can contribute to weight management and also makes it a popular choice for people trying to lose weight.
• Reduced inflammation in those with metabolic syndrome.
• Lower gluten levels than other types of grains.
Now that you know how rye can benefit your health, you probably want to jump right in and start using it in your baked goods! Here are a few tips for baking and cooking rye that will help you incorporate it into your diet.
• Swap half the whole wheat flour in your bread recipes for rye flour to extend the shelf-life of your homemade bread.
• Warm flour slightly and use warm or lukewarm water for making dough. This will help activate the natural yeast and bacteria in the grains.
• 100% rye flour breads can take upwards of 24 hours to rise.
• Rye dough should be sticky. Keep your hands well-floured or moistened to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands when working with it.
• Rye berries are a delicious alternative to rice. They can be served as a side dish, added to your favorite soup, or used as the base for a salad.
As with any perishable product, there are certain storage tips for rye that should be followed to better extend shelf life. These tips for properly storing rye will help you maintain the best quality of your grains.
• Rye berries can be stored in the pantry for six months or in the freezer for up to one year.
• Whole grain rye flour can be stored for three months in the pantry or six months in the freezer.
• Keep grains sealed in an airtight container. It is best to store rye in a dark, dry and cool place.
Try experimenting with this hearty grain this month in your recipes, and keep an eye out for September’s Grain of the Month!