(Photo above: Rye growing on a field)
Rye is a wholesome grain that comes to our tables in various forms, depending on how much it was processed. Here’s a breakdown of the rye kernel's components:
- Rye Kernel = Kernel that grows on the stem
- Hull = Tough, inedible outer layer of kernel
- Rye Berry = Kernel with hull removed
- Bran = Rye berry's nutritious outer skin
- Endosperm = Starchy interior of rye berry
- Germ = Nutritious core of rye berry
Below we list the different forms of edible rye, going from least to most processed. The nutritional value of the rye end-product decreases, as the degree of processing increases. On the other hand, the more processed variants of rye are easier to handle in the baking and cooking process.
MINIMALLY PROCESSED = MOST NUTRITIOUS
Whole rye kernels without a hull are referred to as “rye berries.” Light green to brown in color, rye berries have a nutty and earthy flavor with a tang. The berries can be eaten raw or sprouted. Some folks add them to soups or salads. They can also be boiled like rice and eaten as a side dish.
This is the rye equivalent to steel-cut oats. The rye berry is cut into pieces that are quicker to cook than a whole rye berry. This form of rye contains all of the bran, germ, and endosperm of the kernel. Rye meal is cooked like oatmeal, i.e. you need to boil it for around 30 minutes for soft texture.
Rye ﬂakes are created like rolled oats, i.e. by steaming rye berries, then rolling and drying them. Rye flakes cook much faster than rye berries or rye shreds. But the steaming causes them to lose some of the nutrients.
MEDIUM PROCESSED = MEDIUM NUTRITIOUS
Dark Rye Flour
This type of flour is milled from the entire rye berry, containing all of the bran, germ, and endosperm. It contains a lot of nutrients, but is challenging to work with due to its coarse texture.
Medium Rye Flour
This flour still contains parts of the bran and germ, giving it medium dark color and robust rye flavor. Medium rye flour offers the best of both worlds: It’s fairly easy to bake with, while still offering most of the flavor and substance benefits of dark rye flour.
MOST PROCESSED = LEAST NUTRITIOUS
Light / White Rye Flour
In white rye flour, the bran and germ are completely removed. The flour only contains the starchy endosperm of the kernel. Without bran and germ to weigh things down, this flour is easy to work with, but it also misses most of the nutritional value of the rye berry.
To sum up, it seems to be the usual trade-off between health and convenience. And as always, we recommend walking the extra-mile for your health and go the minimally processed route.
At BreadVillage, we bake our bread with medium dark rye flour, which contains most of the nutrients of the original rye grain. This gives our loaves their typical medium to dark brown interior color. We do not use light flours, because they have been stripped of nutrients.
Click here to see the breads we offer throughout the USA.