I brew a fair bit of beer in my spare time. There are basically two ways to make your own beer- the first uses pre-prepared malted grain extract, and is about as complicated as pouring a jug of molasses into boiling water and leaving it for an hour. That’s the way that I started, and I made some satisfying beers. This summer, though, I started making beer from whole grain. The process takes longer, but I enjoy the feeling of control, and I really like the beer that I make.
One side benefit of brewing beer from grain is the large quantity of “spent grain” left over. I generally use between 10 and 15 pounds of grain every time I brew, and the brewing process only removes the sugar and a few proteins. Most of the nourishing complex carbohydrates and proteins are left behind in the husk.
There are many breweries across the country that are beginning to market “spent grain” recipes in their pubs. Many suggest that they do so to “recycle” and be eco-concious. I suspect that most are hoping to hit a double: get the benefits of good marketing that come from being perceived as environmentally friendly, and save money on flour down at the pub.
In any case, brewing results in a pile of spent grain. It’s great for composting, but it’s tasty to eat as well. There are not a lot of spent grain recipes out there, even on brewing websites, so I’ve adapted a few whole grain recipes for my own ends. This is one such recipe:
Spent Grain Crackers
(Original recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, adapted to spent grain.)
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup spent grain
- (if not using spent grain, replace with a mix of bran, small seeds like flax and such)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar or honey
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Pulse the wet spent grain in a food processor for 30 seconds or until finely chopped. Mix together all ingredients.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and shiny, not sticky. Add water or flour as needed.
Let rest at room temperature for at least 30minutes and as long as overnight.
Roll out dough to desired thickness (I go around 1/8 inch) and cut into crackers. Bake for 20-25m at 300 degrees until golden brown and crisp. Leave on cookie sheet to cool- crackers will continue to crisp up there.
If you want toppings on your crackers, you can egg-wash them before baking and top with sesame seeds, whole spent grain or other seeds. For toppings like salt, pepper, cinnamon sugar, spray the crackers with a quick shot of oil (Pam will work) right out of the oven and sprinkle.