What is rye flour?
Rye is a cereal grass — close to both wheat and barley — cultivated for its grain and well suited to northern climates. Humans have used it for more than 2,000 years. Once a staple food in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, rye declined in popularity as wheat became more readily available. Rye flour is milled from rye kernels.
What does rye flour taste like?
Malty, nutty, slightly milky, intensely fruity, rye has a complex flavour profile that imparts a sour taste to baked goods, including the popular rye bread sourdough loaf. It has a fresh flavour and can add additional texture to baked goods.
Rye bread can vary in colour from white to dark brown and taste from mildly sour to a strong distinctive acidic.
How is rye flour made?
Rye flour is produced by the milling of rye grain. It is made from ground rye berries, which are also known as whole rye kernels. Rye berries are small, hard, starchy nut-like kernels that are ground to make rye flour. Before milling, the tough, inedible outer part of the rye berry – the hull - is removed. Various types of flour are produced through various degrees of purification (removal of outer bran coating) and degree of grinding.
Rye flour can range in colour from white to dark brown. The colour of rye flour is a result of the milling process. We can have:
- White (light) rye flour
- Medium rye flour
- Dark rye flour
The brown grain is cleaned, tempered, and milled much like wheat grain. One difference is that the rye endosperm is soft and breaks down into flour much quicker than wheat. As a result, it does not yield semolina, so purifiers are seldom used. The bran is separated from the flour, which is further rolled and sifted while being graded into light flour, medium flour, and dark flour.
Is rye a gluten-free flour?
Rye flour is not gluten-free. Along with wheat and barley, rye is one of the three gluten grains. It contains a protein called secalins, which is a form of gluten. However, when used in baking, rye flour contains much less gluten than wheat and barley. Rye's gluten is much less elastic and less efficient at trapping bubbles during baking than wheat's, so rye bread is much less airy.
Rye flour benefits
Rye flour is more nutritious than wheat or barley and contains similar amounts of protein as other grains. Compared to wheat flour, rye flour contains fewer starches but more fibre and free sugar.
These are some of the scientifically proven benefits of rye flour:
- Rye flour helps lower weight and cholesterol and improves insulin sensitivity.
- Rye flour and rye bread can help regulate and improve the blood glucose profile, reducing the risk of diabetes and helping to manage it.
- Rye flour helps control appetite during a meal and provides a full sensation for hours after eating.
- The insoluble fibre that is so high in rye bread and rye flour products can help reduce the risk of gallstones.
- Whole-grain rye flour has many potent cancer-fighting properties. It has been shown that the same phytonutrients that help fight and prevent cancer can also reduce the risk of heart disease and the symptoms of menopause.
What can I make with rye flour?
Rye flour is used to make rye bread, sourdough bread, gingerbread, crispbread, fruitcakes, scones, crackers, pasta, as well as a filler for soups and sauces. Perhaps the most famous product made with rye flour is pumpernickel bread, a yeast-leavened bread made with the darkest rye flour.
The flour is sometimes mixed with wheat flour to produce a lighter loaf. With its intensely fruity flavour, rye flour is an excellent ingredient in fruited cakes and scones. Rye flakes are delicious when added to muesli.