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Turn Your Spent Grain into Savory, Heart-Healthy Pretzels

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At the end of brewing, you end up with a kettle full of spent grain that some brewers (*gasp*) throw straight into the garbage. Hold up! That grain is precious. 

Substituting only 10% of a recipe’s traditional flour with spent grain gives innumerable benefits. Spent grain...

  • increases protein and fiber by 50%
  • increases essential amino acids by 10%
  • decreases the overall calories by ~7%

So, not only does spent grain allow you to reuse your grain but it also creates healthier food options for you and your home!

These grains can be used in almost any grain-based recipe, but keep in mind that these golden-toasted nuggets should not be used in baking recipes that require a pure-white finish.

Beer and pretzels are a classic combo, so let's start there!

Step 1: Dry the Grains

The most economical way to prepare spent grains after a brew day is by oven-drying.

  1. Spread the spent grains thinly (1/4” high at most) + evenly over several cookie sheets
  2. Place in oven at the lowest temp setting (140-200° F) until completely dry (usually 7 hours).
    • Note: Baking at a higher temperature decreases the time but may result in undesired flavors. 
  3. Once the grains are completely dry to the touch, run them through a coffee grinder or food processor until they’re a fine powder.

The end product is known as “spent grain flour” and should be stored in a clean, dry container until intended for use.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t have a grinder or processor you can still reuse your spent grains! Dry and store them as described above. This grain will be thicker in size and add a crunchier texture but still impart the same flavor profile.

Step 2: Make the Pretzels

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INGREDIENTS

  • 13 ½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup spent grains*
  • ¾ cup baking soda
  • 2 whole eggs Vegetable oil

* Our Spent Grains were 2-row, pale wheat, rice hulls, and Dehusked Carafa III

CREATE THE DOUGH

1. Stir 1 ½ cups warm water, brown sugar, dry yeast, and butter in a bowl until it becomes foamy. Let sit for 5 minutes.

2.In the same bowl stir in salt, flour and spent grains until dough is smooth (~5 minutes)

3. In a different bowl (of similar size) lightly coat with vegetable oil. Create dough balls and add them to the bowl.

4. Cover bowl with damp cloth and leave in a warm area for 1 hour

5. When the hour is over preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

CREATE THE BATH

6. Add 12 cups of water to a large pot and add baking soda. Then bring pot to a boil.

MIX THE EGG WASH

7. Beat eggs in 1 tablespoon cold water (you will use to coat the pretzels before baking)

MAKE THE PRETZELS

8. Divide dough equally (should make ~12 pretzels) and fold pretzels how you wish

9. Boil pretzels in the bath for 30 seconds (this will create a savory outer layer)

10. Transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Then coat heavily with egg wash (and kosher salt if you desire)

11. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes

12. Enjoy with a cold homebrew!

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