General information and profile:
rye or Secale cereale describes a type of cereal belonging to the sweet grasses that thrives in the temperate zones and is considered one of the most important staple foods besides wheat. The one-year-old plant reaches heights of growth of up to two meters and forms long roots and four-edged, between five and twenty centimeters long and stared ears. These are between May and late July during flowering and consist of spikelets, each with two flowers. From these develop the harvested as rye grains fruits that are up to nine millimeters long and have a bluish to greenish shimmer. Since they are not fused firmly with the husks, they can fall out even with light touch or movement. This is particularly problematic for old varieties, because this can lead to significant crop losses.
In cultivation, a distinction is made between the frost-resistant winter rye and the more sensitive summer rye. Basically, all types of rye are characterized by a strong adaptability to harsh climate, but need to germinate enough heat. In earlier times rye grains were often contaminated with the highly poisonous, elongated and much darker ergot, because this fungus attacks as a pest of all cereals especially this plant.
History of the cultivation of rye:
The rye cultivated today comes from a wild form, which was originally native to Anatolia. Scientists still do not agree on when this wild rye was domesticated. Conjectures, however, suggest that about three thousand years ago, this weed was cross-pollinated with the wheat and the rye cultivated today developed from it as a so-called secondary crop. Only a few archaeological finds prove the use of this cereal plant in northern Syria during the Stone Age. In Central Europe, rye has been grown since the seventh century BC. Even the Teutons and Celts made rye mixtures for baking bread. Later, the Slavs took over this tradition, which is why rye bread is still very popular in Central and Eastern Europe. For several decades, intensive work has been carried out on the development of new varieties that are resistant to pests, including ergot fungus, by reducing the release of highly allergenic pollens. Today, Germany is considered the leading country in rye production, closely followed by Russia, Poland, China and several central and southern European countries.
Use of rye:
A large proportion of the world's amount of rye is used as feed for livestock, so-called feed rye. For humans, rye plays a significant role only as a foodstuff in Central and Eastern Europe. The bread made from rye is especially popular because it dries very slowly compared to other types of bread and is thus much longer shelf life and enjoyable. Rye bread must be made from sourdough, in the production process of which the harmful phytic acid is broken down. This binds nutrients in the intestine and consequently reduces their absorption. Therefore, rye sourdough bread is considered much healthier than conventional breads. Since rye contains high amounts of gluten, it is not suitable for people with celiac disease. Rye, however, is considered as a healthy grain, which has a high content of fiber and plant proteins. In addition, wholegrain products made from rye contain some B group vitamins as well as the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. However, the nutrient content depends largely on the soil conditions and the fertilizers used in cultivation. Rye is also used in the production of spirits such as grain, whiskey or vodka as well as raw material in the construction industry.