18 September, 2014

Adventures in Spent Grain

Greg asked me if I wanted to keep the grain from the beer to use for cooking.  I'd never heard of such a thing, so I told him that we would keep the grains for one day.  If I couldn't find anything to make with them, then we'd throw them away.  Turns out there are all kinds of things you can make with spent grain from your beer.
I found a couple websites that have lots of recipes - and now I'm excited to graduate from extract to grain-based brews.  I selected something relatively easy to start - a bread that incorporates the grain without having to dry it or grind it.  I made the first batch on Monday night.
It's an easy recipe, not very different from some of the other breads I've made - except for the grains part.  I found it here, along with some good information about using spent grains in bread recipes.  I found another recipe here, but opted to try the first one (mostly because there's a picture, fewer steps, and the rise time - and therefore overall time - is shorter).
It was delicious!  In fact, I set aside more of the grain so I could make the recipe again on Thursday - which I did, but then added chunks of sharp white Cheddar cheese.  Yum!!  For the remainder of the grain, I opted to dry it and then grind it into flour.  This idea came from yet another website (here), which also has all kinds of non-bread recipes for spent grain.  Cookies, banana bread, brownies, pie crust... It seems that if a recipe uses flour, it can be modified to use spent grain.  This opens up a whole new world to me!
I followed the instructions for drying my grains.  While I'm excited at the many options I see ahead, there's LOTS of room for increasing efficiency in my current process.  Like seven hours.  That's how long it takes to dry one sheet of grain in the oven.  Yeah, I know that's what the recipe said, but some of the comments indicated it might be shorter.  (And I thought my oven was at least partially convection because a fan comes on every time you turn it on and continues to blow until long after it's been shut off - turns out that's just a fan, and I have a standard oven which takes 7 hours to dry spent grain).

So my first recommendation: if you're using the oven, don't start the process at 8:30 at night - especially on a work night.  I slept in the recliner that night.  And I think one of my next acquisitions will be a dehydrator.  Because after 7 hours of drying and then a half hour of grinding (done the next evening, because no one wants to listen to the food processor grinding endlessly at 3am), I have just about 1 cup (ONE cup!) of spent grain flour.  My second recommendation (or observation, really): spent grain flour will not have the consistency of all-purpose flour - it's chunkier.  It's possible if I had some other implement to use I could get it finer and more flour-y.  Instead, it's finer than cornmeal and coffee grounds, but not powder like flour.  We'll see how that impacts the next recipe I try...

No comments: