Author: Marielle Ramaekers
Back in time for the healthiest bread ever
WHO? Frank van Eerd, owner of Bisschopsmolen in the Netherlands
WHAT? Collaboration with brewery to produce tasty bread
WHY? 16th century bread using brewer’s grains is perhaps the healthiest bread ever
“True craftsmanship is needed to develop bread with brewers grains”, says Frank Van Eerd of the Bisschopsmolen in the Netherlands. Two years of development has made him and his companions proud of what they have achieved. “We shared knowledge, discussed difficulties and even set-up an infrastructure with farmers to grow spelt and barley in an organic way.” All ingredients are fully traceable. Van Eerd and his colleagues are a great example of corporate social responsibility: they re-use waste from beer brewing to improve the healthiness and taste of bread.
It all started when Van Eerd heard two Dutch professors talking about collaboration between beer brewers and bakers in the 16th century. Brewer’s grains, the waste after filtering during beer brewing, is full of healthy fibres and ß-glucans. Therefore the professors thought that bread with brewer’s grains was perhaps the healthiest bread ever. Van Eerd noticed a resemblance: “A beer brewer and a baker use the same ingredients with one exception: where the baker adds salt, the beer brewer uses hops.” Inspired, he turned to the owner of local beer brewer ‘Gulpener’ for help in development of this 16th century bread. The owner was immediately enthusiastic and thus their journey began.
Gulpener asked a employee to climb into the beer tank to get the brewer’s grains out in a hygienic way. “We started with a basic recipe and method for sourdough bread and it took half a year before the first beer bread was for sale”, van Eerd explains. “Then we fine-tuned and up-scaled the production together with another Dutch baker Carl Siegert. Carl had the logistics and production lines ready. Likeminded, we were able to share knowledge and we helped each other to develop our own bread and overcome problems. Most machines, for example, cannot produce this type of bread. It took a further two years until the breads were ready.”
Van Eerd believes in taking time for the process to achieve high quality and healthy bread: “This Gulpener bread takes 48 hours to produce, compared to 3 hours for ‘fast-food bread’, and contains organic ingredients only. We even made agreements with local spelt and barley farmers to produce in an organic way” explains van Eerd. “Consumers want to know where their foods come from.” Last but not least, the bread contains enough ß-glucans for two health claims: ‘ß -glucans contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels’ and ‘Consumption of beta-glucans from oats or barley as part of a meal contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal’.
The bread appeals to many consumers because of its taste, its tender texture and, of course, its great story. The reuse of waste appeals to the green consumer whilst the health claims and organic nature to the health conscious consumer. Van Eerd tried using sea salt as an ingredient to enhance the ‘natural’ perception, but that didn’t work out. “Unexpectedly, sea salt demolishes the structure of the bread.”
Frank van Eerd has a true innovative mind with many more wonderful ideas. He has developed muesli bars for cyclists of the Tour de France together with nutritionists for example. “Sometimes you have to think beyond the principles of traditional bakery. We use a meatball machine for our products because the current bread machines weren’t suitable”, van Eerd laughs. Van Eerd is open for collaboration with European colleagues. Get in touch with him below if you are interested.
The first step in beer brewing is malting, where enzymes are formed during germination of grain kernels. Often barley is used because of its high enzyme content. Then the grain kernels are dried and crushed to facilitate the release of starch. After that, water is added and heated. The enzymes that are formed during germination now transform the starch into sugars in a process called mashing.
After the mashing, the substance is filtered. This is where ‘wort’, the clear fluid that runs off, is separated from the remaining brewer’s grains. The brewer’s grains contain the proteins and the husks that are not dissolved in water, and is rich in ß-glucans and fibres. It is often added to animal feed as a protein rich source. The wort is further processed to beer. It contains the sugars which are fermented to alcohol and carbonic acid.