Monday, March 22, 2010

Uses for spent grain

One thing that I hate about homebrewing beer is that you're stuck with a bunch of spent grains when you're done. They're the grains that are left over after you're done mashing. Basically you heat up some water to a certain temp and let your crushed grain sit in it for a while. The resulting liquid is the base for your beer. If you've got livestock then it makes great animal feed. It also composts very well. If I don't throw it in the compost bin then I just cook it up with some leftover vegetables and old or freezer burnt meat and feed it to my dogs. They love it. This time I decided to break out my cheapo cast iron grinder and make some bread with it.

First and foremost I had to dry the grain out. It's a wet, sticky mess after you're done mashing. I just threw it in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours until it was mostly dry. Then I roasted it for another 30 minutes or so at 350. That got it nice and dry and it tasted awesome.

From there I ground up about 2 cups of it. My process for making flour with my cheapo grinder is as follows. I run about a bowl's worth of grain through the grinder. Then I pour it into a very, very fine mesh bag and shake for a few minutes. Then I pour whatever didn't get filtered out back into the hopper on my grinder. I just wash, rinse and repeat until I have enough flour. It took about an hour to get the two cups that I needed for this recipe. Keep in mind that you need 6-8 cups of flour to make a typical batch of bread. Using a cast iron grinder with my method is very labor intensive and a huge waste of time but you end up with very fine flour that works wonderfully. If you don't filter it then you won't get fine enough flour to bake with. Every time I use this cast iron grinder it makes me want to go buy a quality one. Making bread with it every day just isn't feasible.

Spent, malted barley doesn't have much gluten content so you have to cut it with flour. Otherwise, your bread won't rise much and you'll end up with a brick. Here's the recipe that I used.

2 cups malted barley flour
5-6 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons yeast
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Other than the 2 cups of malted barley flour I used my normal recipe and procedure for simple white bread. I just pour 2 cups of water into my Kitchenaid mixer bowl and add the yeast and sugar. Let that sit for 5 minutes or so and once the yeast starts to bubble add the salt, vegetable oil and 2 cups of barley flour. Start mixing and keep adding all purpose flour until the dough starts climbing up your dough hook. Then just dump your dough out onto a floured surface and kneed it until it's dry and a bit stiff. Form it into a ball and let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes. Once it starts to rise punch it down, roll it out, cut it in half and form two loaves. Let them rise for an hour or so. Put a bowl of water on the bottom rack of your oven, preheat it to 400 degrees and then bake for 25-30 minutes. I ended up with some pretty nice bread.

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See? Simple. If you store wheat then you should plan on bread being a staple. If you plan on making bread a lot then you will definitely want a quality grinder. The Country Living Mill is probably your best option for a hand mill. If you're on a budget then I'd recommend that you get a Back to Basics Mill at the very least. If you've got some form of backup power then any number of electric mills will serve you very well. The best part about having an electric mill is that your wheat stash suddenly becomes a source of fresh you'll actually use it even if the shit doesn't hit the fan. Eat what you store and store what you eat. That's my first rule of food storage. A Nutrimill is very high on my list of high dollar preparedness items. I might go cheap and just get a Vitamill, though. If you're serious about getting a mill then get in touch with David over at Our Happy Homestead. He's very knowledgeable and can help you figure out what would be best for your needs.


DaddyBear said...

If you're a deer hunter or know one, used brewer's grain makes good feed for deer. Around here some even use the used grain from making bourbon. But using it to make whole grain bread sounds great! I'll have to try this next time my beer making friends have grain.

The Urban Survivalist said...

It tastes awesome. It imparts a really earthy flavor. I probably should have baked it at 350 or 375 for a little longer because it's a little too chewy in the middle. It's not too bad, though. It's just not perfect.

Anonymous said...

Impressive U.S, and resourceful. I wish I had the time to try it. Too busy gathering acorns. Guns and gold.