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Whole Grain Recipes

A guide to the six most common cereal grains—wheat, barley, corn, rye, oats and rice—and a selection of great whole grain recipes.

| July/August 1974

  • 028 whole grain recipes - ninell - fotolia
    The pictured whole grains are among the most widely used on earth.

  • 028 whole grain recipes - ninell - fotolia

Since the invention of domesticated plant cultivation 10,000 years ago, grains have become a dietary staple throughout the world. They now support a human population of billions. But as successful as modern agriculture has been, modern processing methods discard the whole grain and thus a lot of their nutritional value. Accordingly, MOTHER EARTH NEWS has compiled this guide providing a description of six of the most widely used grains and a selection of whole grain recipes to get the most from them.

Versatile Wheat

Wheat has been called the staff of life. Since before recorded history, whole civilizations have depended upon wheat crops as their major source of food, and some variety of this grain can be grown on almost any arable land. Wheat contains most essential vitamins and minerals, but is especially rich in vitamins B-complex and E. Stone-ground whole wheat flour retains many more nutrients than either the white variety or the whole wheat product of modern, commercial milling methods. The high gluten content of wheat flour makes it better suited to baking than flours made from other grains.

Whole Wheat Bread

Wheat for Man ... Why and How suggests the following method for making three 2-pound (or four 1 1/2 pound) loaves of whole wheat bread. Dissolve 2 packages of dry yeast in 1 cup of warm water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened yeast with 1/2 cup oil or melted shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, honey or molasses, 2 tablespoons of salt and 5 cups of milk (water or potato water may be substituted). Gradually add 11 to 12 cups unsifted whole wheat flour and mix well (the resulting dough should be quite moist).

Let the batter rest 10-15 minutes before kneading it for 10 minutes on a floured (preferably canvas-covered) board. The dough should then be refrigerated (covered with foil or a dampened towel) for 3 to 24 hours and may need to be "punched down" once or twice. (If dough is to be refrigerated only 3 hours, the liquid used should be heated to lukewarm. Also, the kneading may be done after refrigeration if more convenient.) Take the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature (or in 80-85° F oven) 30-60 minutes. Knead 10 minutes if not done previously. Mold into three or four loaves and place in loaf pans. Lightly grease the top of each loaf and let rise until almost doubled. Bake at 325° F for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes.

Whole Wheat Muffins

Taken from The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook. Sift together into a mixing bowl 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar (or raw sugar), 1 teaspoon salt and 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. In another bowl, combine 2 beaten eggs, 1/3 cup melted butter and 1 1/3 cups milk. Stir egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Pour into oiled muffin tins, filling to 2/3 full, and bake at 375° F for 20 minutes or until done. Makes 18 medium muffins. 

Ancient Barley

Barley is believed to be among the most ancient of foods used by the human race and one of the first cultivated cereals. It grows best in loose, fertile soil in cool, moist climates. Generally grown to produce grain (which can be made into malt), it is also used for hay and pasture. The grain, or barleycorn, contains 8-19% protein and most (if not all) of the vitamins and minerals essential to human nutrition. Barley flour is used in combination with other flours for baking, and the grain—either whole or pearled—is added to soups to thicken them. Pearl barley is usually available at supermarkets and other forms of the grain can be found in health food stores.

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