Rye: properties of this cereal and how to make homemade bread with rye flour

Rye may be one of the least recognized among cereals for some, but for centuries it has held an important place in the traditional diet of many countries, particularly as it is used to make rye bread.

You can consume both rye in grain and rye flour . You can even get whole grain rye pasta .

Among gluten-free cereals we have rice and corn or corn , while among gluten-free cereals we have wheat , oats , kamut , barley and spelled .

Rye is a cereal of the wheat and barley family, the grain of which is used both for food and beverages, as well as in medicine and cosmetics . Its origins are difficult to determine since it was associated with the cultivation of wheat or its wild appearance in crops as a companion grass, or even as a weed.

From the botanical family Poaceae ( Gramineae ), it is a plant highly tolerable to adverse climatic conditions, being resistant to frost, it adapts to cold and elevated areas , as well as to the conditions of acidic, sandy and shallow soils.

Due to the characteristics of its root, the rye plant is considered beneficial for soils in arid areas, helping to recycle mineral nutrients. Currently, the only cultivated species is Secale cereale L.

Main uses of rye beyond the kitchen

While rye is a hardy, rustic crop, it is historically known for one of the fungi that can affect the plant. The ” Ergot of rye ” is a disease that causes the fungus Cleviceps purpurea , which also affects wheat and barley, but less frequently.

Around the 11th and 12th centuries, the contamination of the rye flour with which bread was produced in mountain areas gave rise to the disease known as San Antonio’s Fire, later called ergotism , which included symptoms such as very high fever, gangrene and hallucinations.

When chemicals from ergot, which appears as a dark grain on the ear, were isolated in the 20th century, a set of alkaloids from the ergoline group was discovered, the basic component of which is known as lysergic acid.

In the 1940s, the collection of ergot, leaving aside that of the cereal itself, became very important for the pharmaceutical industry and, nowadays, the derivatives of ergot alkaloids are used in the treatment of migraines , Parkinson’s disease and galactorrhoea , among other.

Nutritional properties and benefits of its consumption

Rye is a very complete cereal with a good energy supply (331kcal per 100 grams) and contains more protein and fiber than wheat.

Carbohydrates (55.2% of the raw grain) are mainly starch but, unlike other cereals, this starch is enclosed in a fine cellulose web that slows down its digestion, releasing glucose molecules little by little. which is very well tolerated by diabetics and, by producing satiety, is recommended in weight loss diets for those who are obese or overweight.

As for proteins (14.8%), although it has more than wheat (10.4%), they have less glutein and gliadin, which form gluten .

Among the minerals, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and other trace elements, 100g of rye provides a quarter of the daily needs for iron and a third of magnesium, with hardly any sodium content.

Due to its content of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium and fibers, rye is recommended in diets to prevent arteriosclerosis and coronary diseases, since it gives elasticity to the arterial walls, thins the blood and promotes circulation .

Rye is also recommended in:

  • Diets for arterial hypertension, due to its favorable action on the arteries and its low sodium content.
  • For constipation, due to the richness in mostly insoluble fibers.
  • For the prevention of colon cancer, due to its action to reduce the concentration of lithocholic and de-soxycholic bile acids in the intestine.

rye bread

How is rye prepared or cooked?

Grain is consumed from rye. To consume it whole, it is necessary to wash it (2 or 3 times), soak it (for 8 to 12 hours) and cook it (for an hour and a half). Once cooked, it can be added to sauces, stews, as a garnish and other preparations. You can use rye in the same recipes that you would use rice in.

Rye is also consumed flaked or puffed , they are bought like this and are prepared with breakfast or a snack by adding them in milk, or juices and smoothies, or in salads. The combination of rye with fruits, vegetables and dairy is recommended to compensate for its low intake of calcium and vitamins A and C.

However, it is most consumed in rye flour , which corresponds to ground grain and is easily recognizable for being darker than wheat. It can be incorporated both to give more consistency to preparations, for example, meatballs and hamburgers, you can use it to make béchamel, croquettes, and, of course, to make bread.

As it has less gluten protein than wheat, rye flour when wet does not produce that chewy consistency that makes the dough rise, which is why, in general, rye flour breads have a proportion of whole wheat flour.

Bread recipe with rye flour and wheat flour

A very rich bread comes out with this recipe. Take note:

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of yeast with a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of sugar, letting the mixture rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Mix 350g of whole rye flour with 650g of whole wheat flour and add the yeast mixture.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and add 3 cups of warm water.
  4. Knead for 10 minutes or, in a mixer, 5 minutes at high speed.
  5. Let stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has risen to twice the initial volume.
  6. Knead again for approximately 20 minutes.
  7. Shape the loaves and let them rise again in the molds. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250 ° C (high flame).
  8. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes at 250 ° C and lower the temperature to 200 ° C to bake for another 45 minutes.

Another recipe for homemade bread only with rye flour :

  1. Mix 500g of whole rye flour with 125g of toasted seeds and salt (a pinch).
  2. Add 500g warm water at 60 ° C, add 40g of fresh yeast and knead.
  3. Soak some molds with olive oil and spread the dough.
  4. Cover and let it rest in a warm place for about 2 hours.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 250 ° C and then lower the temperature to 220 ° C for 20 more minutes.

Unlike white bread, traditionally more acceptable to urban societies, rye bread is dark and compact, but stays fluffy longer.

I also recommend that you try this very healthy Rye Sprouted Bread .

Contraindications of rye consumption

Being a cereal, and although rye has less gluten proteins than wheat , it is not indicated to be consumed by people with celiac disorders at various levels or with other conditions such as non-celiac gluten intolerance .

In general, products made with rye, such as bread, can contain additives such as salt and other potentially dangerous components for people with ailments such as hypertension. It is therefore recommended to read the nutritional specifications of the product and keep track of the daily intake of nutrients.


  • “Histories of Plants (III): the history of rye”, by José Miguel Coleto Martínez, Teresa Bartolomé García, Rocío Velazquez Otero. Extremadura agriculture and livestock in 2016.
  • “Health through food” by Dr. Jorge D. Pamplona Roger. New Lifestyle Collection, 2006.
  • “Background on rye in Chile and other countries” by Mario Mellado Z., Iván Matus T. Ricardo Madariaga B., Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Institute, Quilamapu Regional Research Center, Chillán, 2008.

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