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Rye (bot.: Secale cerale) is a cereal belonging to the family of grass (bot.: Poaceae). It is sowed annually and grows 0.65 to 2 m high. Its tetragonal ears are between 5 and 20 cm big and hang over slightly during flowering season. The ears consist of spikelets with two florets and long awns, its glumes are hairy. The grains are 5 to 9 mm long and have a bluish green shimmer. Ripe rye is easily removed from the chaff through threshing.

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History of rye

Rye descended from a wild species in Anatolia, Turkey. It was probably grown for the first time 2000 to 3000 years ago - as a weed in mixed cultivation with wheat. From about 700 BC it was also cultivated in Central Europe. Germanic tribes used it as a bread cereal. Celts and Slavs later adopted its cultivation.

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Nutrients of rye

Without chaff rye grains contain 60 % carbohydrates, 9.5 % protein, 13.2 % dietary fibres, 1.7 % fat and 1 % minerals as well as considerable amounts of B-vitamins and vitamin E. Rye also contains gluten, which may lead to health problems in people suffering from coeliac disease (gluten intolerance).

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Usage of rye


The largest part of the rye harvest is used for livestock feed. In human nutrition rye is mostly used as a bread cereal, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Rye bread does not dry out as fast as other bread varieties and are thus more durable. Whole rye grains that have been soaked in water overnight may be cooked like rice. Rye may also be processed into cereal products like flour, groats, semolina, and flakes.

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