Rye (Secale cereale L.)

belongs to the grass family (Gramineae), Rye has few habitat requirements and – as it uses the minerals contained in the ground – it can be grown in all, even poorer, soil types. Furthermore, it is characterized by a cost-effective water management and

The chemical composition of rye grains depends on genetic factors (variety) and cultivation sites (soil and climate conditions, farming technique applied). The rye grain is made up of chemical components that play an important role in human nutrition: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. Their content varies depending on the anatomical part of the caryopsis.

Quantitatively speaking, carbohydrates constitute the largest part of the spelt grain (74%), and are therefore a significant energy source. The rye grain contains mainly complex carbohydrates, above all starch. Carbohydrates also include compounds that constitute fiber, their rye grain content amounting to approx. 12%. Rye is characterized by a particularly high content of pentosans (approx. 7–8%); cellulose content is approx. 2–2.5% and lignin 1–1.5%. These compounds, even though they are not digested by enzymes in the human digestive tract, should be part of the daily diet, because of the role they play in the prevention of many diseases, including obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, gallstones and colorectal cancer.

The protein content in the wheat grain varies from 7 to 12%. The fat content in the rye grain is 1.8–2.2%. Similarly to other cereals, rye grains are predominantly composed of unsaturated fatty acids: linoleic, oleic and linolenic acids (they constitute 80% of total fatty acids), and the palmitic acid, the only saturated fatty acid.

The mineral content in the rye grain is 2–2.5%. Most mineral compounds (65% of the total). Of macronutrients, the rye grain contains the largest quantities of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium (4.2 g/kg, 3.0 g/kg, 0.9 g/kg and 0.4 g/kg, respectively). The content of trace elements (microelements) in the grain rye – iron, zinc and manganese – is 34 mg/kg, 39 mg/kg and 42 mg/kg, respectively.

The rye grain contains B vitamins and vitamin E. It contains 0.36 mg of thiamine (vitamin B1) / 100 g, 0.15 mg of riboflavin (vitamin B2) / 100 g, 1.00 mg of niacin (vitamin PP) / 100 g, 0.27 mg of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) / 100 g, and 42 μg of folic acid / 100g. Vitamin E content – after conversion to α-tocopherol – is 1.17 mg/100 g.

Roasted rye in an instant form is an ingredient of popular cereal grains beverages – coffee substitutes.

Rye products are worth consuming as they contain:

  • carbohydrates: starch, which is a source of energy, and fiber, which is indispensable for proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract,
  • proteins, the body’s building component,
  • B vitamins, indispensable for the proper functioning of the nervous system,
  • vitamin E, due to its antioxidant action,
  • minerals necessary to ensure proper biochemical processes in the body.

Cultivation of cereals

Rye comes from the Middle East, but nowadays, it is also cultivated in Central Europe and in north-eastern parts of Europe. There are both winter and spring varieties of rye. It belongs to the most resistant cereals and is notably frost-proof. Rye flour may be used to make rye bread, wholemeal bread and bread made on home-made sourdough. Rye is also an ingredient of soluble beverages used as popular alternatives to coffee.

The beginning and duration of harvest depend on weather and climatic conditions, region of the country and variety. Usually, when the weather is fine, harvest takes from a few days to up to two weeks. Winter barley is reaped the earliest, during the first ten days of July. Other varieties are reaped towards the end of July or in August. Combine harvesters in which grains are threshed from cereal ears are used during harvest. They are then sent to the collection points or are stored at the farm. Grains brought to the collection point are initially cleansed to remove dust and all impurities. Before being stored in a warehouse, all cereals are also tested for humidity parameters, pollution and smells.