All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

20% Rye with 80% Wheat from hand-milled grain

20% Rye with 80% Wheat from hand-milled grain

Last bread I made was a 100% whole wheat loaf, from hand-milled wheat.  That was the first time I used my new Komo Mill.  Today's bread is my standard whole-grain, 20% rye loaf, made in the Tartine style, with sourdough.  

Not too exciting.  Nothing much to relate.  I've made bread with this recipe, and reported on it, lots of times before.
Weighing the Rye

Weighing the Wheat



The starter was expanding nicely after 8 hours of fermentation.  I've mentioned that the starter feels quite a bit different, when you are using hand-milled grain.  At 100% hydration, it still feels a bit chunky.  This time I added a full cup of grain flour to a cup of water (as I suggested last time), which turns out to be slightly more than 200g of water to 200g of flour -- slightly better hydrated than 100%.  After 8 hours, this starter was ready to use.

I also mentioned in the last post that 1 cup of wheat was close enough to 200g to avoid the tedium of measuring each time.  This time, I checked the rye kernels.  No such luck here:  to get 200g of rye kernels, you need slightly more than 1 cup of them -- perhaps 1 1/4 kernels.  

I weighed everything for this dough.  It doesn't take long.

  • 800g wheat, milled
  • 200g rye, milled
  • 200g sourdough starter
  • 20g seasalt
  • 850g filtered water, obtained from my sandpoint
I wasn't sure about that 85% hydration, but thought I'd go a bit wetter for this loaf to see what would happen.

This was the typical Tartine method, which comes as second nature now: the short autolyse before adding the final 50g of water, along with salt; the Q30 stretches and folds (and occasional air-kneading), during the aproximately-4-hour bulk fermentation, the dividing of dough, a rough forming, a bench-rest, and then the final shaping before proofing.

The proofing took place in the fridge overnight, about 6 hours.  This morning the dough was removed for 2 hours prior to baking.  I used Dutch Ovens for this one.

The dough seemed a bit flat to me, when I took it from the baskets and scored it.  Perhaps I didn't develop the gluten well enough, or tight enough, to prevent sagging.  The new countertop is a bit too slippery, I find; it doesn't provide the right sort of drag on the dough.  I'm still learning how to use it to best advantage.

But there was acceptable oven spring, and the dough stood up to the baking process, leaving me with a couple of fine looking loaves.  I gave away the better looking one.

There's always something more to learn.  I made a quick search for "home milled rye," on Google Scholar and PubMed, and my attention was quickly drawn to trichothecene.  This is another important chemical name to remember, it seems, when it comes to grain.  I'll have to update my Page on Health Concerns of Wheat and Other Grains, where I've been collecting these things (I had mentioned it before, but I didn't have all the trichothecenes I've learned about listed).

Trichothecenes are mycotoxins produced by several problem grain blights (for example,  Fusarium).  They are toxic because they react with the ribosomes and interfere with RNA and thus protein synthesis.  If ingested, or are absorbed through the skin, they can irritate body tissue.  Poisoning with trichothecenes can lead to reduced PO intake, vomiting, and immuno-suppression, and ultimately the possibly fatal alimentary toxic aleukia (ATA) (see: Lutsky, I, and Mor, N. (1981) Alimentary Toxic Aleukia (Septic Angina, Endemic Panmyeloxtoxicosis, Alimentary Hemorrhagic Aleukia). Am J. Pathol.  104(2) pp. 189-191)

Within living memory, trichothecenes have been found to be endemic in some poor rural, grain-belt areas of Russia.  Depending on your source, in the 1940's as many as 5,000 -- or 100,000 -- Russians died from it)-- although Foroud (Foroud, N. and Etudes, F. (2009) Trichothecenes in Cereal Grains. Int J Mol Sci 10(1) pp. 147-173) cites pockets of other endemic areas in England, Canada, the US, Asia, Australia, Europe and South Africa.

The authors of the wiki seem to think that this chemical has also been used in biological warfare.

Trichothecenes have been well studied in Europe, but we don't have a lot of info on how much we are typically eating in North America.  Schollenberger's team (Schollenberger, M. et al. (2005) Trichothecene toxins in different groups of conventional and organic bread of the German market. J of Food Composition and Analysis. 18(1) pp. 69-78) found it in most German bread, but bread with a very high percentage of rye (>90%) has less.  She also found that there is less in bread made from organically grown grain (which is a surprising finding, to my mind).  They suggest an acceptable "maximum tolerable daily intake" level of 1 microgram per kg of body weight per day*.  Since almost all samples (92%) contain deoxynivalenol (DON) -- a slightly less potent trichothecene than t-2, but worrisome because it is pretty much ubiquitous -- the levels of trichothecene ingested would seem to be quite a bit more than the safe level.  The median of DON alone, detected in bread was 134 micrograms per kg of bread -- and there are other trichthecenes besides DON.

Most discouraging to my own interest, it would seem that sourdough fermentation may only compound the amount of mycotoxin produced by the fungi.  ApSimon's team (ApSimon, J. et al. (1990) Mycotoxins from Fusarium species: detection, determination and variety. Pure & Appl. Chem. 62(7) pp. 1339-1346) took full advantage of this, and discovered several new trichothecenes only after fermenting some of the fungi captured.

This bread was fine.  No surprises here.  It tastes good.

It behooves us all, who are grinding our own grain, to watch for signs of fusarium blight and other fungus among our kernels, to reduce the amount of trichothecene we ingest.  It should be fairly simple, in the tiny amounts we mill at home, to check for malformed grains.  Anything suspicious shouldn't be milled.  While that seems obvious, when you are very poor, like the rural Russians in the 1940's, you may feel sometimes you haven't got a choice.

The big boys, who mill tons and tons of grain each day, don't have time to pick through the grain to throw out the bad ones.  They depend on spot testing.  Home millers should be able to do better: every bread made, at home, can and should be a 'spot test'.

The "conventional" answer to Fusarium blight, and other fungi that produce mycotoxins in our grain, has been to breed wheat which is fusarium-resistant.  The genes for this resistance are now well-known, and lines with those genes are generally bred into our modern varieties.  I'm not entirely convinced that this is the only answer to the problem, which has been exacerbated by our monocrop way of farming, our long chains of transportation, and our large scale storage.  Again, small-scale organic grain growers should be able to do better.  The key seems to be small scale, and encouragement of biodiversity.  As Faroud points out, "limiting breeding programs to one (or a few) resistant sources can initiate the selection of highly pathogenic strains" of blight that produce even more virulent mycotoxins.

I begin to see where all this is inevitably leading me.  Obviously I have to begin to grow my own wheat and other grains, if I want to remain an exorphin junkie and continue to eat bread safely.

There is no use just bitching about it.  Time to take action.

Notes to Myself
  • * Lutsky and Mor found that the t-2 toxin gave cats a disease similar to human ATA at levels of 0.08mg/kg body weight, and at those levels the cats would only survive about 3 weeks.  T-2 is reportedly 10x more potent than DON.  Foroud says that Canada has set safe levels at 2ppm in grain and flour. 

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