In 1875, a botanist by the name of Stephen Wilson combined wheat and rye in hopes of producing a grain with wheat's high acre yield and high gluten content for great bread, and rye’s hardiness. His efforts did not succeed, but a few years later another botanist, Wilhelm Rimpau, was successful, and the resulting grain was triticale. It wasn't until 1935 that the name of triticale became official, the name a mix of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale). Today, about 6.5 million acres around the world are dedicated to triticale cultivation. The countries Poland, Germany, China, and France are responsible for about 90 percent of the world's triticale crop, though Russia, Australia, Argentina, Canada, and the United States contribute some as well.
Being a hybrid of wheat and rye, triticale is said to have the health benefits of both of these grains, yet is higher in protein than is wheat. From rye, triticale gained resilience; it can survive in cold temperatures, drought, and acidic soils. All of these conditions would destroy crops of wheat. However, like wheat, it contains gluten, meaning triticale can be used alone to make bread which tends to be more dense and heavy due to its lower gluten content. Triticale does require a more fertile and well watered ground and has a yield per acre that is less than wheat. It is similar to wheat in size, shape, and color, but triticale grain is longer and a little bit darker than wheat and is fatter than rye.
Triticale is consumed by humans primarily in the form of bread, flour, and cereals, though most of the triticale crop is used for livestock feed. Many scientists have made it their life's work to improve the triticale crop to make it better for breads (making a higher gluten grain that produces a lighter bread), to make it a higher yield per acre crop, and to increase its balance of amino acids. Due to these efforts, triticale is higher in the amino acid lysine than other cereal grains. Lysine is particularly important as it's lost in much food processing, and is often deficient in the body.
Nutritionally, triticale is fairly similar to wheat. Triticale though has a better amino acid balance, including the benefit of more lysine, as was mentioned above. Triticale is also a great source of dietary fiber, which helps to promote regularity, reducing the chance of developing one of the most common cancers of our day: colon cancer. The digestive benefits of sufficient fiber intake are many, including a reduced chance of having irritable bowel, diverticulitus, Crohn's, and other such diseases.
If we can prevent a buildup of toxins (waste) from sitting in our digestive tract for long, then the body isn't given a chance to resorb the toxins, which helps to keep our bodies less toxic, less acidic, and more in balance. The body is clean and clear to digest and assimilate new food coming into the body. If there is build up, the body will have greater difficulty absorbing and utilizing nutrients, even if the food eaten was healthy. So in just the digestive benefits alone, getting enough high fiber foods like triticale in the diet is of great importance. But fiber also helps balance blood sugar, thereby assisting in the prevention of diabetes, and it also helps to give bulk, which provides a feeling of fullness to help prevent overeating.
Like wheat and other cereal grains, triticale is also a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including manganese, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, the B vitamins, and vitamin E. Triticale is also a good source of dietary protein.
Triticale can be found as whole triticale berries, as flakes, flour, cereal, bread, or crackers. A versatile grain that can be used in a variety of ways, it can easily replace wheat, rye, or brown rice in recipes. Obviously, due to triticale's gluten content, it should be used with caution for those who are sensitive to wheat and gluten.
The berries or flour are best kept in a cool, dry place, and preferably in a glass container that is away from sunlight and moisture, which cause the healthy oils in the triticale from going rancid. When stored like this, triticale can be kept fresh for about a year.Skillet Brown Rice, Barley or Triticale Salad With Mushrooms and EndiveIngredients:rn
- 1 cup triticale
- 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water for triticale
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 pound shiitakes, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 leaves fresh sage, cut in very thin slivers
- 1/4 pound white or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or a mixture of parsley and other herbs such as chives, dill, tarragon, marjoram
- 1 Belgian endive, red or green, cut crosswise in thin rounds (about 1/4 inch)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Shaved Parmesan (optional)
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil