Rye bread how you probably do not know it

By Dagmar
In Cold/fresh meals
Feb 2nd, 2016

Hands up, who loves pumpernickel, the rye bread?

Besides that the bread has probably got its name after a farting devil (other versions exist), there also seems to be some confusion about the nomenclature.

When you google the term ‘rye bread’, you usually find a soft loaf made with, or entirely of, milled rye flour. On the other hand, there are breads like pumpernickel which are also called ‘rye bread’ on their pack. However, I have had the chance to taste several types of this coarse rye bread assembling the structure of pumpernickel. There were about four or five of them, cut into small slices, wrapped individually within a larger pack. Although they were nearly all the same, one of them was specifically named pumpernickel, which, however, I enjoy the least. This pumpernickel was the darkest of the selection and it had quite a distinctive flavour which did not agree with my palates. I guess there was too much molasses used for its flavour while the other breads of the selection were more of a ‘natural’ taste, as are most others on the market.

That experience confused me for several years, thinking that pumpernickel is always of this rather unpleasant taste for me, while I sought the other versions of this product, not knowing that they were pumpernickel, too. Nonetheless, event he term pumpernickel does guarantee you will get what you expect in some parts of the world.  Things are more complicated than that as you will find out at the end of this article.

For now, whether you call it rye bread, pumpernickel or German rye bread (it originated in medieval Germany), I am still talking about the one on the picture below.

rye bread

There you can see the dense and coarse structure which is one of the reasons I love this bread so much. Another reason is its mild sour taste.

Health benefits

There are also health reasons why this bread is superior to the traditional white, or even wholemeal, wheat loaf:

  1. Low glycaemic index and therefore a better blood sugar control;
  2. More fiber than most other whole grains. High soluble fiber content helps to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines;
  3. Due to its less refined form it also aids regular visits on the loo, which comes with other health benefits.

Putting it into simple words this bread is very useful for diabetics and for people trying to lose weight because it will make them feel full for longer. Preventing colorectal cancer (the third biggest killer in the world) and other ailments of the gut are also a good reason to eat more healthily.

I have even made my husband to introduce this rye goodness into his diet instead of the common wheat bread. He does not particularly love it but he eats it almost every day at work. He buys it himself now and makes his own sandwiches.

As I have mentioned already, there are different varieties of this rye bread, having slightly different colour, texture or composition. They also vary in shape and size. Some are drier and hard (also break easily), others are rather moist. They also contain various added seeds. You may want to try several of them to find which suits your preferences the most. The one on the picture has golden flax seeds (hence richer in anti inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids), but most shops, if they sell this bread at all, offer either plain or with added sunflower seeds (Asda and Lidl are guilty as charged in this). I prefer the plain version. Sunflower seeds add extra calories and omega-6 fatty acids, of which our modern diet is too rich already and which are contributing to the inflammatory processes in our bodies.

You have probably eaten this bread either cold, straight from the fridge, or at a room temperature. We tend to keep it in the fridge because it delays the development of mould, which, obviously, makes the remaining content inedible. That happened to me a few times when I did not manage to eat the whole pack within a certain time from opening. I have noticed that in the fridge it lasts much longer beyond its eat-by date, despite of its high content of moisture and no use of preservatives which you can find in other conventional bread products.

Simple novelty

Now I am coming to the main point of this article: have you ever tried to toast this bread? I have and I can tell you it is a wholly new experience. A good one! I highly recommend to try toasting a slice or two for about 3 minutes and eat them soon after. The flavour is richer, the surface is a bit crunchy but at the same time the bread keeps its fantastic chewiness, which I like so much. Eating it rather warm is also more satisfying. You can add any spread you like, or any accompaniment, but it is equally good on its own.

Tip: Depending on the size of a toaster, you may prefer rather square or near square shaped bread instead of the long rectangular one, unless you want to halve the slices. I tried to use the long rectangular bread, but it bent and broke in the middle after the first round in the toaster.


Image source: Ki Organics

Beware: I have learned just recently that American pumpernickel is not the same as the traditional German pumpernickel to which I have dedicated this article. The American version is made of refined flour, the process of making is different and it has added various agents to create its flavour and deep colour. By texture it rather assembles the usual wheat or rye loaf which does not have the qualities and health benefits of the traditional German pumpernickel.

About "" Has 48 Posts

Graduated at London Metropolitan University: BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition in 2014. Working as a research assistant at the MRC, The University of Cambridge.

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