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How to Prepare Spent Grains for use in Baking and Cooking

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by jpsy422, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. jpsy422

    jpsy422 Savant (365) Illinois Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    I put together this tutorial for a beer blog that I haven't gotten off the ground yet, but I figured that some people here would have an interest in this.

    How to Prepare Spent Grains for use in Baking and Cooking

    Spent grains are a great way to add great texture, great taste and high fiber to any baked good, but unless you plan on baking after you clean up from brewing, you have to come up with some way to use our spent grains in the future. Here is a quick little tutorial on how to prepare, package, store, and use your spent grains.

    Once grains have steeped and sparged, the next stop is usually the garbage bin. Use this easy process to preserve your grains so you can use them in baked goods and recipes down the road.

    -Remove grains from brewing kettle/sparging vessel.
    -Allow grains to cool slightly before handling. The out side grains will cool pretty quickly, but the
    grains inside grains will still be extremely hot, so use good judgement.
    -You know how the instructions for brews with a grain bag say “DO NOT SQUEEZE THE
    GRAIN BAG”? I so badly want to squeeze the grain bag. I know you want to squeeze the grain
    bag. Now’s your chance.
    -Put the full grain bag (still tied) into a metal colander in the sink, Place a saucepan on top of it
    and apply some pressure. If you are lazy like me, take about 10 or so pounds (freeweights/cans)
    and put them in there.
    -After 5 or 10 minutes, scoop 1/2 cup of grains into a food processor. The grains will still be
    slightly wet, this is good. If you would like to add anything to your grains, like toasted walnuts,
    now is the time to do that.
    -Pulse until the grains look like this:


    -Remove the grains, form into a puck, and wrap with saran wrap.
    • Once you have a dozen or so, put them in a tupperware, seal them up and freeze them.
    • If you have any left over hops, put them in a plastic bag and freeze in the same tupperware.

    Using your grains:
    A few hours before you plan on using your grains, take them out of the freezer and let them thaw. You can certainly defrost them if you are in a rush, but a slow defrost is preferable. Substitute them in for oats at a 1 to 1 ratio.

    Hopped up Fried Chicken on Spent Grain Biscuits
    with Collared Greens and Brown Ale Gravy
  2. dpjosuns

    dpjosuns Savant (280) Illinois Dec 8, 2009

    Love this. Good work. What happens if you're a poor-ass like me without a food processor?
  3. jpsy422

    jpsy422 Savant (365) Illinois Jul 12, 2009 Verified

  4. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (810) Texas May 21, 2010

    awesome thread man. now I'm hungry :cool:
  5. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (450) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006 Verified

    Thanks for that. I di similar, but I do not process them. If I'm lucky, I'll use the grains in bread right out of the mash / steep. If I plan to bake "tomorrow" I throw them in a bowl in the fridge with Saran wrap over it. If I need to freeze, I get as much spare liquid out as possible and put it into ziplocs and squeeze as much air out as I can.
  6. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    Hate to be a cynic, but how's it taste? It seems like a lot of work to prep grains that only have about 25% of their sugar left in them. You just add lots of other things to make up for the fact that you're hiding saw-dust in your bread :)
  7. jpsy422

    jpsy422 Savant (365) Illinois Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Depends on how much liquid you squeeze out of them. I like to leave them slightly damp when I freeze them. It definitely adds a mash flavor to whatever you put them in. For oatmeal cookies, I use 1/2 oat meal 1/2 grains and it tastes like a beer cookie. Add to that a stout frosting and you're in business.
    WickedSluggy likes this.
  8. dgs

    dgs Aficionado (195) Pennsylvania Jul 18, 2005

    Nice write-up.

    "You know how the instructions for brews with a grain bag say “DO NOT SQUEEZE THE
    GRAIN BAG”?"

    I thought this was old-school thinking, as many know say squeeze away. So, most of the moisture from my grains goes to the brew pot.

    As I do a pretty fine crush, I don't process the spent grains in any way, but use them as is. What I won't use relatively soon, I freeze and thaw/use as needed.

    btw - a post on drying spent grain for pantry storage:
  9. hmmmm yummy
  10. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (450) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006 Verified

    I make spent grain bread all the time, and it's great (IMO) the only ingredients are yeast, water and flour, and maybe a bit of sesame or caraway seeds on top. there's plenty of sugars left in the grains for the yeast to eat to rise the bread, and the grains also do give a nice flavor of their own.
    It's no wonder bread, but it's not meant to be. I put it more like a rye bread with no seeds. Not exactly the same, but similar.
  11. randal

    randal Savant (335) Texas Apr 21, 2004

    This is pretty interesting but I always find myself picking husks from my teeth for hours afterwards whenever we used to make bread in this manner.

    Nowadays we make spent grain flour, which does not need to be frozen, will keep at room temp for months and can be used in breadmaking as a quantity of the flour. The process involves spreading the spent grain out on cookie sheets in a very thin layer then drying it out in a low over (~200 F) for an hour or more. Once they are cracker dry we put them through a burr mill, sift, mill, sift and repeat until you have pure husk-free flour.
  12. Allsmoke

    Allsmoke Aficionado (175) Virginia Aug 11, 2007

    I've made dog biscuits from mine, and it's really easy

    4 cups of spent grain
    2 cups flour
    1 cup peanut butter
    1 egg

    Mix it all together, thoroughly. Lay it on a baking sheet, score, or cut into whatever shapes you want. Bake @ 30 minutes.

    To have them dried out completely, lower the temperature to 225, bake for about 3 hours to dry them out, so they can be stored without worrying about moisture causing bacteria to form.

    We've got 3 dogs, so sometimes I won't do the final step, so they are chewy-ish for them, when almost fully cooled. They love them that way, but don't keep them any more than a couple of days if you don't dry them out.

    Here is what mine looked like. Dogs loved them, and they are easy. I used organic low fat peanut butter and whole wheat flour so they were not as terrible health wise as they could have been for them (I've been known to reward incessant barking with a quick treat to shut them up, not good I know)

  13. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    I had this experience too. Now my spent grains go to the compost bin, and eventually become part of my garden soil. However, I once made flour from malted barley, using leftover grains from a home-made crystal and toasted malt experiment. The breads I made with it had great texture, which I attribute to the powdered husks. Some of those malts were pretty dark, and imparted a pretty sharp taste to the bread. I'll eventually play around with this some more, I think, using different, probably lighter, grains.
  14. Sorry for jumping onto a month old thread, I've got some spent and plan on making dog biscuits tomorrow. do I need to do anything to "Store" the grain overnight? they were fresh, warm out of the kettle...
  15. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    Try 13 month old thread. This baby goes back to 2012....
    Grains can get funky pretty fast. I'm not sure if doggie will mind or not, but I know that when I neglect to clean the mash tun after brew day, it stinks to high heaven the next morning.
    Beerontwowheels and Dakotah like this.

  16. Oh dear, I didn't check the YEAR!! my bad. Thanks for the reply... I've got some just sitting in a 5gal bucket outside (cools off down in the low 50's in nor cal right now) and I've got some in the fridge, very loosely packed.
  17. Don't know about you but my spare grains had marginally less taste than wallpaper , they made good compost though.Nice to know that all the flavour ended up in the beer :)
    kjyost and Mothergoose03 like this.
  18. cavedave

    cavedave Poobah (1,060) New York Mar 12, 2009 Verified

    Not a fan of spent grains but they do well in the compost for sure. My friend's four year old, and his dog also, eat them as soon as they are cooled, and love them.
  19. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (450) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006 Verified

    To store overnight, I don't really see any need to do anything special. Just covered in a bowl in the fridge will be fine. Any longer you may want to look into other options.
    Dakotah likes this.
  20. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    While I wouldn't eat them on their own, you can make them taste good by preparing them with, well, things that taste good. Plus, there is some dietary value that your mash doesn't touch. For example, if you lack fiber, spent grains will get you where you need to go. However, they are a bit troublesome. They are big and chunky and those fibers don't readily break down in your mouth. My spent grain breads sent me straight to the dental floss, so I stopped making them.

    However, I do have a motorized mill for making flour. I wouldn't use it on spent grains (too much moisture) but whole grain malted barley, ground this way, can be an interesting supplement to wheat flour in a bread recipe.
  21. True enough. I did try using some left over pale malt in some bread , it tasted wonderful but it didn't rise and the middle was gooey :)
  22. leedorham

    leedorham Champion (845) Washington Apr 27, 2006

    Not surprised. Malted barley in any larger amount is horrible for cereal structure in leavened breads.
  23. jmw

    jmw Savant (440) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    Hope you changed that to 'collard' greens before you hit Publish.
    jpsy422 likes this.
  24. DAllspaw

    DAllspaw Savant (280) Indiana Nov 7, 2009

    Wow, nicely done. I always make dog biscuits from the spent grains which are a huge hit, but you've given me reason to ponder a bit more.
  25. memory

    memory Savant (290) Pennsylvania Oct 2, 2005

    homemade pizza dough with spent grains=good food
    JrGtr likes this.

  26. What if you dried them out before milling, would the spent grains be suitable for making flour? Could you perhaps dy them in the oven?
  27. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    I imagine you could do this. You'll probably need to experiment. I have no aspirations to do this, because I feel like at some point, in an effort to be thrify, one can expend more time, energy, and effort than the final product is worth (composting, on the other hand, can be done with little effort, and provided you have an outlet for the product, you might deem it worthwhile).

    If determined to dry your spent grains to mill them so you can introduce fibrous husk materials into your baked goods, you might consider drying them at the lowest (non-off) temperature that your oven can sustain to minimize browning and burning. You'll need some patience. For field collected plant tissues in my non-beer-related lab activities (plant and soil ecology), I dry organic samples at 65 deg C to try to minimize burning and maintain biomass while approaching 0% moisture and maintaining tissue chemical composition - this can take several days. While you do not necessarily need to get to that low moisture content, you probably need to get to 10% (guess?). Obviously, you are not concerned with analytical accuracy like I am in a lab, but you get the idea that at some temperature, you will run the risk of browning and burning your spent grain, which will affect the taste of whatever you are baking.
  28. The biggest benefit of spent grains is the fiber. Don't waste your time or effort if you're looking for flavor enhancement -- it simply isn't there, IMO. Don't pretend it is. I routinely throw a handful into a batch of muffins or 'wheat' bread, without making any other adjustments to the recipe (it's just that easy!). I should warn, though, if you don't have toothpicks on hand, then you'll need to mill them into flour. A standard household blender is fine for this, but you'll need to dry them, first.
  29. Thanks for the replies. I'm considering doing this mainly because I don't compost (though maybe I should start), and I HATE throwing away 10+ pounds of usable grain after brewing.
  30. I routinely dump the grain (20+ lbs, dry) into an unused spot in the garden (after putting a handful or so aside for muffins, etc.). Next year, I just till it in. But spread it out a bit. It stinks to high heaven after a few days if you just let it sit in a pile.
  31. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Advocate (520) Texas Nov 21, 2008 Verified

    I use the fertilizer spreader without composting. When I first tried it, I thought it might float up and stick to the blades of grass, but that never happened. I have easily spread a few thousand pounds of it on the lawn, and you really wouldn't even know it. One of my neighbors is a pro brewer. I have seen him chuckling at the sight of me "fertilizing my lawn". Another neighbor admonished me for putting so many toxins into the environment. I told her it's only harmful to cats and she should keep her stupid cats indoors if she doesn't want them to die. And that reminds me I don't think I ever mentioned how much my dog has come to love malted barley. I give her a little now and then as a reward. If I leave an empty sac in the back yard while brewing, she'll lay down next to it protecting it as her found property. Then I have to explain to the dog that the bag is empty so I can throw it away. No, I don't feel stupid explaining things to my dog. She's definitely smarter than the cat lady.
  32. pointyskull

    pointyskull Savant (285) Illinois Mar 17, 2010 Verified

    I've made spent-grain dog biscuits for my pooch, adding honey and peanut butter to the mix.
    Dog approval is positive, so far.

    But that's only a couple cups of grain. The bulk of the spent grain goes in the compost pile.

  33. Does it attract animals? I live in the city, and I'd be worried about raccoons and rats.
  34. Not that I've noticed. I live in the 'burbs, about a quarter mile from a Forest Preserve and I've never seen anything unusual. My dogs ignore it. I'm speculating that their instinct tells them the good stuff is gone.
  35. birchstick likes this.