Origin: Central Asia
The English word “rye” comes from the Old English ryge, from the Germanic. The Latin secale derives from the Celtic sega, “scythe,” referring to the way the plant was harvested.
Botanically, rye is a cereal. It has been cultivated since ancient times and has never been discovered in its wild state. Its stalks measure from 80 cm to 1 meter in height. It flowers from May to July.
Invading wheat and barley crops without being sowed, like a weed, rye has long been harvested accidentally. It was during bad years that farmers noticed its yield was higher than other crops, and thus it was acknowledged fairly late as an individual crop.
It was domesticated in Asia Minor about 3000-4000 BC. The Celts and Gauls grew this grain and used it to make flatbread, while their Roman neighbors preferred wheat. In the Middle Ages this rustic cereal's properties allowed it to nourish the ever growing population. It became possible to cultivate lands unsuitable for wheat or barley because rye growing is relatively undemanding. To grow, rye needs little water and adapts to poor, arid soils and to both cold or very sunny climates.
In Asia Minor, rye is called "the wheat of Allah." It is believed Allah sowed it to make up for poor harvests, thus providing food for children.
Nutritionally speaking, rye is similar to wheat.
Used as flour to make bread in many countires, rye can also be eaten in the form of whole grains, cooked like rice in risotto or pilaf, or as cracked grains to make tabbouleh or couscous.
Rye flour is used to make black bread or rye bread. In times past, rye bread was usually limited to cold regions where wheat does not grow.
Rye flour is rich in phosphorus, sulfur, iron and vitamin B. It makes a dark bread with a dense crumb which keeps for a long time.
Uses: rye flour is used in making the French gingerbread known as pain d’épices. When making regular rye bread, some white wheat flour is often added to the rye flour to lighten it.
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