Rye grain is one of the earliest grasses eaten and is part of the staple diet on continental Europe, where its popularity far exceeds that in the UK. It grows extremely well in relatively poor soil and in cooler areas which may account for this.
Why rye is good for you
In its dark rye or wholemeal form rye flour has a really high protein and fibre content as well as good levels of Zinc, Iron and Calcium.
In addition, it is very useful in a wheat free diet or where wheat intolerance is experienced in relation to modern breads that use high speed methods with minimal fermentation. The fermentation process used in traditional bread baking is very useful in helping to break glutens down, making the bread easier to digest.
Rye breads have a very distinctive range of flavours especially when made using a sourdough and allowing the longer fermentation process to enhance the unique characteristics of these breads.
Typically heavier than wheat breads, rye bread is as rich in fibre as it is in colour and flavour. Rye is used to produce a wide variety of breads. Recipes often include ground spices such as fennel, coriander, aniseed, cardamom, or citrus peel as well as ingredients such as caramel, molasses, coffee and cocoa. In the USA rye bread is pretty much synonymous with caraway seeds.
Have a look on the right for some great recipes for Rye breads.
A rye sour is one of the most versatile “mothers” to look after. It goes with most flours and if using a medium rye flour as a base you can benefit from the added activity of the fine bran particles but it will not discolour the other flours so much when added to them.
It takes a week to get your rye sour up and running, but once you have it, your mother will improve with age, as we all do, and will always be there ready to use.
How to make a Rye Mother gives you Clive's sourdough Mother recipe. (In case you don't know, Clive is the Shipton Mill baker!)
There is a list of recipes on this page, including Clive's 100% Rye Bread. Please make sure you rate any recipes you try and add comments too. Feedback is great for the author and will help others who want to bake the same recipe.
Rye makes an excellent alternative to wheat, as its popularity across Europe shows. It will add some variation to your bread repertoire and may even bring some health benefits.