To Americans, barley brings to mind just two items, beer and soup. However, in ancient times barley was a prominent, important food. It was one of the first domesticated grains and was the chief bread grain of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. Barley was so significant that at times it even served as currency.
Both economical good sense and the desire for nutrition invite us to put our spent grain to good use in food recipes. Extracting malt for beer brewing removes mostly carbohydrate. The remaining spent grain constitutes a concentrated source of nutrition, high in vitamins (particularly niacin and thiamin), high in fiber and protein, yet very low in fat. The malted barley used for beer making, in fact, is more nutritious than traditional white “pearled” barley, which has the nutritious germ removed.
The ancients were on to something good. Our spent malt is simply too good to waste. The following four recipes provide nutritious and tasty uses for your spent grain.
Hints and Tips for Spent Grain Cooking
Two of these recipes call for two parts crystal malt for each part of chocolate malt. The different malts are not kept separate in brewing, but rather this ratio comes from the mix of spent grains left from a beer recipe with a 1:2 ratio of chocolate malt to crystal malt. Don’t feel locked in by this ratio; go ahead and experiment. Also, note that if you steep or partial mash, you may find you need to reduce the amount of grain, particularly in bread. That’s because more sugars and nutrients are often left in these grains.
The easiest way to store spent grains is in your freezer. After you’ve sparged the grain, just strain it well. If you don’t remove most of the surface water, the grains will freeze into an ice cube and will be difficult to divide for the recipes.
Neal’s Real Barley Bread
This recipe calls for whole- wheat flour, but don’t let that intimidate you. Even people who don’t like whole-wheat bread do like this one enough to ask for the recipe. The whole wheat stands up better to the flavor of the barley than regular white flour. However, you can substitute white flour for the whole wheat if you prefer. The result will still be a really fine loaf of bread. If you have trouble with the texture of the dough, consider adding more flour in the mixing bowl or reducing the amount of spent grains.
• 3 cups lukewarm water
• 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or sugar
• 1 cup dry milk
• 4 cups whole-wheat flour
• 2 eggs
• 4 cups spent American crystal malt (wet)
• 4 tsp. salt
• 1/4 cup oil or butter
• 1 egg (optional)
• 1/4 cup water or milk (optional)
• Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
Step by Step:
Put the malt and 11/2 cups of water in a blender or food processor and blend until liquefied.
In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over 11/2 cups of water and stir to dissolve. Add the sweetener, dry milk, and eggs and mix well. Add the blended grains to the bowl and mix well. Gradually add enough flour to form a thick batter. Beat 100 strokes with a spoon. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the sponge rise for about an hour or until at least double in bulk.
Sprinkle the salt and pour the oil over the sponge. Fold into the sponge until well combined. Begin folding in the remaining flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and it is difficult to manage with the spoon.
Turn the 3 to 4 cups of dough onto a well-floured board and knead. Use as much additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the board or your hands. Continue to knead for 10 or 15 minutes, until the dough is very smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise about an hour or until double in bulk. Punch the dough down with your fist 25 times. Cover and let rise again until doubled. (This step may be eliminated, but the loaf will be a little heavier.)
Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape into loaves. Place in well-oiled loaf pans. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
Optional: Beat the egg with the water or milk. Cut slits 1/2-inch deep in the tops of the loaves and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle the loaves with the seeds.
Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about one hour. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack or across the tops of the loaf pans.
Yield: 3 loaves
Barley Pumpernickel Bread
The potatoes, molasses, and chocolate make this bread seem exotic. Prepare it in large pans or as mini-loaves. Sliced thin, it makes a good companion for a beer tasting.
• 2 cups spent chocolate malt (wet)
• 4 cups spent crystal malt (wet)
• 1 Tbsp. salt
• 2 packages dry yeast
• 9 to 10 cups white flour
• 31/2 cups lukewarm water
• 1/4 cup dark molasses
• 1 Tbsp. butter
• 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
• 2 cups mashed potatoes at room temperature (fresh or instant)
• 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
Step by Step:
Put the malt and 21/2 cups of water in a blender or food processor and blend until liquefied. This is easier in two batches. Pour the liquefied malt into a large bowl, add the salt and the yeast, and mix well. Mix in two cups of flour.
In a saucepan combine 1 cup water, the molasses, butter, and chocolate. Heat over low heat until the chocolate and butter melt. Gradually add this liquid to the flour, malt, and yeast mixture and stir well. Add the potatoes and another cup of flour or enough to make a thick batter. Stir well. Stir in additional flour and the caraway seed. When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, let the sponge rest for 15 minutes.
Turn onto a floured board and begin kneading, using more flour as necessary. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel, set in a warm place, and let rise until double in bulk.
Punch the dough down and turn out onto the board. Divide into three equal pieces and shape each into a round ball. Place the dough in three greased, 8-by-9-inch cake tins. Cover and let rise until double in size. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 50 minutes. Remove from the pans immediately and cool on wire racks. You can also divide the dough into smaller balls and place in miniature loaf pans.
Yield: 3 large loaves
Barley Grain Griddlecakes
From the number of mixes, refrigerated batters, and frozen pancakes available, it seems that few people make pancakes from scratch these days. However, homemade pancakes really only take a couple of moments longer than a mix and are worth the effort.
The robust flavor of the chocolate malt balances well with the syrup, but remember that a little bit of chocolate malt goes a long way in a recipe. You can adjust the recipe for less chocolate malt, but adding much more could be overpowering.
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 4 tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2 eggs
• 11/2 cup milk or 2 cups yogurt
• 1/4 cup oil or melted butter
• 1/3 cup spent chocolate malt (wet)
• 2/3 cup spent American crystal malt (wet)
Step by Step:
Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Put the milk, oil, and eggs in a blender or food processor. Add the malt a little at a time and blend until it is all liquefied. Mix in the dry ingredients.
To bake, pour the batter on a hot, lightly oiled griddle. Turn when bubbles break on the surface and the edges seem cooked.The batter will thicken as it stands. If this happens while you are baking, just stir in a little more milk.
Yield: 24 pancakes
Great Barley Grain Granola
Great for a morning meal or a snack any time, this granola will go fast.
• 1/4 cup margarine
• 1/2 cup honey
• 2 cups oatmeal (regular or quick)
• 2 cups sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)
• 4 cups spent crystal malt
• 3 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut (optional)
• 2/3 cup raisins
Step by Step:
In a large skillet with an oven-safe handle or 9-by-13 inch baking pan, melt the margarine and stir in the honey. Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the raisins. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven, stirring occasionally.
Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and stir in the raisins. Cool completely before placing in the storage container. The granola will last for weeks in a jar or other storage container with a tight lid (if you haven’t gobbled it up by then).