Julie Quilter explains how to make spent grain go another round.
Home brew. Everybody’s making it. And with each batch comes a surplus of malted grain (usually barley) that can be recycled in various ways. Spent grain is used on a large scale for making compost, biofuel, dog biscuits, or served straight up as stock food. On a domestic scale it is perfect for cooking delicious things.
If you are lucky enough to have a source of fresh spent grain, baking some crackers is a good start. This recipe, made in a small batch with care, tastes much nicer than commercially available products.
Spent grain crackers
- 1 cup well-drained spent grain
- 1 cup plain flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ cup oil or soft butter
- ¼ cup water
First lightly oil two baking trays and preheat the oven to 180° c.
Sift together the flour and salt
Mix the grain into the dry ingredients, then add the oil and just enough water to mix to a dough that is manageable for rolling.
Knead briefly. Divide the dough in half and roll on a floured surface, as thinly as you can manage.
Gently lift the dough onto the baking sheet and roll a few more times to make sure it is thin and even, then score it into your desired shape using a pizza cutter wheel.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crisp but not overcooked. Watch carefully because unlike most biscuit dough, this is already a dark colour, making it harder to judge when it’s done.
Slide the crackers onto a cooling rack. They will break apart easily when cooled. The ragged edges can be devoured immediately.
Spent grain crackers will pair well with most dips or spreads, but I’m going to suggest a couple of matches that are sublime. Try them with young goat’s milk gouda and Garage Project Pernicious Weed. The delicate sweet tanginess of this cheese is a perfect match for the sauvin hop profile in the beer.
Or, as you are in credit from recycling all that spent barley, why not try the crackers with a big wedge of imported Old Rotterdam, a most delicious Dutch aged gouda. Add 1 teaspoon of caraway seed to the dry ingredients in the basic mixture and serve the crackers and cheese with lightly chilled bock or Vienna lager.
In the refrigerator fresh spent grain will soon lose its malty sweetness, so pack it into onecup measures and store in the freezer until required.
If you have grain that is quite wet, keep the drained water and use this in the recipe for added flavour
Try adding a small pinch of fresh or dried yeast to the raw mixture, then leaving it at room temperature for up to a day to develop an interesting sourdough flavour.
If you want more inspiration check out the Brooklyn Brewshop’s Spent Grain Chef web pages, where you’ll find recipes for everything from burger buns to chocolate stout truffles. Come to think of it, it’s approaching the time of the year to get out the Anzac biscuit recipes. I’m sure there’s a place for some spent grain there.